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[whitespace] Jet Skiers All Wet: County Parks and Rec grants jet skiers a special exception to be in the water at Coyote Reservoir, where swimming is banned for public-health reasons.

Photograph by Christopher Gardner

Let Them Eat Wake

Confessions of an aqua-hedonist

By Justin Berton

THE BRILLIANT THRILL OF RIDING A jet ski is based in the great disparity between how one "feels" while riding a jet ski and how one "looks" while riding a jet ski.

Example: While riding a jet ski, one can eye a delicious 3-foot wake-in-the-making from 20 yards away. The rider will check both ways for a clear line to the aqueous curling launch pad and, with much gusto, punch the sonofabitch to full throttle. Upon reaching the wake, the rider will depress his body weight, much like a coiled spring, then quickly release it heavenward to perform what "feels" like a 50-foot air across the wake.

The rider, in all of his glory and self-amusement, will wait until later in the evening to discuss his great accomplishment while seated around the campfire with six of his friends. They will drink warm, cheap beer from aluminum cans and they will share stories and laughter. The rider will wonder aloud if anyone on shore witnessed his wake-clearing launch.

Since no one recalls the event, the rider will take the opportunity to explain, in great detail, how he achieved such a feat. He will use his right hand as a symbol for himself attached to the jet ski. He will put his beer down and use his left hand as a symbol for the wake. He will talk with great excitement as he describes how he experienced airborne bliss. As his right hand--the one that represents himself,

his jet ski and, now, his ego--is floating well above his own head, he will notice the bewildered faces of his friends and realize that perhaps, just perhaps, he did not lift 50 feet into the air.

After all, everyone else was only capable of 3-foot bunny hops that never cleared the wake.

Nevertheless, the rider will feel content in believing that he pulled at least a 45-foot air, and he will return to that feeling over and over again. Because it is those feelings, brother, that make the rider--and most human beings--feel alive.

Therefore, one really has to be the world's biggest stick-in-the-mud to bitch about jet skis.

You have to be the kind of person who, when the gang rallies together to go out to the movies, says, "But ... where will we park?"

Now, once again, they have zeroed in on a target to protest.

There they are, backs of wrists pressed to foreheads, droning, "Jet skis disturb me."

Here's a news flash: People who don't like fun don't have friends. They die early and often.


Water Whirled: Must we leave the wilderness in search of peace and quiet?

Water Rights: Lobbying for the God-given right of every American to life, liberty and the pursuit of high speeds across open water.


I MET MANY OF THESE PEOPLE one night when I went undercover and hung out with the Anti Jet Ski Camp. Those who huddled around the fire wore the strong perfume of arrogance and contradiction. Still, I had pity for them. For they did not know they were unwilling pawns in a much larger conspiracy.

Members of the Anti Jet Ski Camp had been brought together by the ultra-radical People Against All Things Fun network, a collaboration of NIMBYs, nuns and nerds. The People Against All Things Fun are a subset of another, much larger organization: People Who Take Themselves Very Seriously. You may work with some of these people, but please--make no mention of their discovery or the following report. Here's how it works:

The People Against All Things Fun don't actually do the hands-on dirty work themselves. Instead, they hire regular, unassuming, mean people to enforce their campaign against pleasure (think: city and county employees). Together, they call themselves the No Fun Police.

The No Fun Police work to destroy three things in an attempt to make the world dull and boring: (1) things that make noise, (2) things powered by oil and/or gas and (3) things that cause smiling.

And here, with jet skis, what a gold mine the No Fun Police stumbled upon! It's a goddamn party out on the water these days. "What's this?" the chief of the No Fun Police asked when told of jet skis. "People everywhere are suddenly zipping around on noisy oil-and-gas-powered vehicles! And they smile while doing so?"

Jet skiers certainly aren't the first to go nose-to-nose with the No Fun Police.

"Snowboarders!" they cried. "Bastards--all of 'em!"

Of course, the No Fun Police were well disguised in their ski-bunny outfits when they started pointing fingers.

Then it was an assault on the mountain bikers. "They tear up the trails, those bastards!" The bickering, you guessed it, came from horseback riders and hikers who long had the foothills to themselves. It was hard to see their badges, but oh yes, Edith the Equestrian and Willy the Walker were both longtime members of ... the No Fun Police.

Now comes the cry "Damn jet skiers!"

Yawn. This two-hanky snivel is sponsored by water skiers and fishermen. In other words, the two groups who do a wonderful job of polluting and purging our precious lakes.

Nice try, No Fun Police. But not good enough.

If you do background checks on the top-ranking lieutenants in the No Fun Police, you will find the true source of all grumpiness in the world: The Environmentalists.

An environmentalist, by definition, is a person who brags that he and his groovy wife built a log cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains on a previously untouched patch of earth. Then, three years later, said couple will protest further housing developments on the mountainside. You know, to preserve the environment.

Similarly, fisherman and berry pickers complain that jet skis make too much noise on "their" lakes. The territorial argument is akin to the tourist who travels to Paris to complain of "all the other tourists."

Obviously, our friends at Camp Environment are suffering from a shortage of mirrors.

More disturbing, Camp Environment is again issuing a bogus death threat to the world if jet skis are allowed on the waters.

Hair spray, cow farts, air conditioners, cars--the It-will-kill-us-all-tomorrow list continues to grow. If it's not PCBs, it's MTBEs. Pretty soon, it will be the ABCs and the LMNOPs.

The environmentalists, those self-appointed spokespeople for the world, say jet skis will kill everybody, eventually, by poisoning the waters. Worse, they say, jet skis will be responsible for making the world a horrible place for our children.

Another news flash, free of charge: The world can be a horrible place.

That's why we go camping and jet skiing and laugh heartily with our friends.

We mean no harm or disrespect, but life's window of opportunity is really quite small. Much too small to allow anyone, let alone a bunch of fuddy-duddies, to claim ownership.

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From the September 2-8, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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