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Tom Bell, the surfing professor, observes the emergence of property rights in waves. I realize that sounds a bit like the scene in Beach Party where the anthropologist teaches himself to surf by drawing calculations in the sand. And maybe it is. But the man is onto something.

[Via The Agitator.]

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  1. It’s easy for those cool-cats and surf daddy-os to defend their surf. Just let Frankie or Annette give Eric Von Zipper “da Finger!”

  2. Once you get out there, all of the things he’s talking about are true for the locals, but the short reference to the Locals Only credo is the real story.

    From Rat Beach to Lunada Bay and Haggerty’s, if you aren’t local, and the surf’s up and the water’s warm, you will be made to feel unwelcome. You may not get an elbow to the solar plexus, and you may not get your tires slashed, but then again…

    …and it’s been that way for a long time. I learned to surf in San Diego back in the early ’80s, and it was that way then too. Anybody else out there remember the classic Surf Punks records with tracks like Punch Out at Malibu, My Beach, My Wave, Shoulder Hopper and Locals Only?

    The interesting thing to me is how people take public property and ration its use and enforce it all with extra-governmental authority. It seems to happen just about everywhere there?s surf and not a huge tourist presence.

    P.S. There also seems to be a compassionate side to Locals Only as well; for instance, little kids and old guys seem to be universally tolerated.

  3. Devils advocate: (using the way back machine) I hung with some surfers when I was in CA doing some progaming. I was a dry fool, but was a tolerated dry fool do to my green thumb.

    Interesting thing, they knew an awful lot about property rights. Cause back then the big convo’s were all about the excellent waves they were being denied due to the private beaches that were springing up.

    No point here, but after about two years of accidental field work, I heard this topic come up again and again, and honestly it tended to lean away from private towards public, with temporary claims.

    Like I said, no point, but I never would have used the surfers I knew as a private property protection philosophers. They were practically yippie with thier anti property views.

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