25 Years Of North Shore

The first time I was called a “kook” was 1988, my freshman year at San Diego State University. Paddling out north of Scripps Pier, a 20-something surfer didn’t see me struggling inside the break and was forced to bail out of a perfect wave. While kicking out, he screamed “kook” in my direction. Yes, I was an amateur at a spot frequented by more seasoned surfers, but aggravating a guy in the water was never in the plans.

“Sorry, ’bout that,” I chirped back, but the insults kept flying.

“Get out of the water, you kook” was followed by “you wanna take it to the beach, Barney?” — a derogatory term for an inexperienced surfer.

At this moment, I realized life was imitating the kitschy surf movie “North Shore” and had to laugh — and paddle away — in the face of adversity.

Released by Universal Pictures in 1987, “North Shore” tells the story of a young surfer, Rick Kane (Matt Adler), who wins a wave-machine surf contest in Arizona and uses his prize money to surf the monster waves of Oahu’s north shore. Once in Hawaii, he is berated by locals with terms popularized by the B-movie, including “kook,” “barney,” and “haole” (a non-Hawaiian mainlander).

Celebrating it’s 25th anniversary, a special screening of “North Shore” will be held Jan. 18 at Bird’s Surf Shed in Linda Vista.

The fictional Kane eventually finds friendship in an aging soul surfer, Chandler (Gregory Harrison), love with a local girl, Kiani (Nia Peeples) and laughs with a comedic pidgin-talking haole, Turtle (John Philbin).
Turtle and Rick Kane (North Shore)

A cross between Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and Ted Logan (Keanu Reeves) in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” Philbin’s performance as “Turtle” helped propel the formulaic ’80s movie from box-office bomb to cult-film status. But to the dismay of surfing purists, it also perpetuated the character of the stoned-out, unemployed surfer. In the film, when Rick Kane asks Turtle about employment, he responds with “only when da surf’s bad, Barney. ’Cause when da surf’s good, nobody works!”

Packed with classic footage of surf legends Laird Hamilton, Gerry Lopez, Mark Occhilupo and Alex Rogers, it’s hard to find someone in the lineup that doesn’t have an appreciation, memory or funny line attached to the film.
“North Shore,” a 25th anniversary screening

Who: Screening presented by San Diego Surf Film Festival with appearances by Matt Adler (Rick Kane) and John Philbin (Turtle)

Where:Bird’s Surf Shed, 1091 West Morena Blvd., Linda Vista

When: Doors open at 7 p.m. Screening starts at 8 p.m.

Tickets: $10 for “salties” (adults) and $5 for “groms” (16 and under)