The Mast-Head: On ‘Kook Paradise’

The Emperor’s New Clothes

   If you happen to have been on The Star’s Web site during the past few days, you might have noticed that an Aug. 16 story about a satirical film about the Ditch Plain surf scene circa 2012 was lingering at the top of the most-commented list.
    “Kook Paradise,” the firmly tongue-in-cheek documentary, was made by two Ditch regulars, Tin Ojeda and Danny DiMauro, and was premised on the idea that for all the Montauk surf hype, the waves are not really all that good. It’s a bit of a “The Emperor’s New Clothes” message.
    Well, that’s not quite how the film is being received. Commenters on the online version of the story have spared little invective in assailing Danny, whom I know, and Mr. Ojeda, whom I do not. Others have been drawn into the digital scrum, and apparently an actual, in-the-flesh confrontation is to take place on Saturday at Montauk’s Lions Field between two aggrieved parties.
    Others have beefed that the filmmakers are themselves relatively new to Montauk and, they figure, not qualified to say anything about anything.
    Having seen “Kook Paradise,” I feel confident in generalizing that the online protest is more about some bad blood from years past than about the film itself. Though its deliberately shaky and gritty footage does show beginning surfers in embarrassing situations, the accompanying narration extolling “perfect” waves makes clear the joke is on those who would consider Ditch Plain the equal of the world’s top breaks.
    Scores of vehicles storm east on the Napeague stretch of Montauk Highway even when the surf is flat, their fedora or trucker-hatted owners planning to make the scene. A friend of mine (who surfs even in summer, proudly wearing kook-like wetsuit booties) calls them “evident life-stylers,” which pretty much sums them up. Ditch, their destination, will likely be gutless slop, but it hardly matters.
    Worthy of a short, amusing film? You bet. Something to fight over? Not really. But if you have a problem with it, you can meet me at Lions Field.


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