Sooooooo … Spanto is a Kook. “Who is Spanto? Why is he a kook?” you ask, savvy reader. These are fair questions. We want to know who Spanto is, too! Spanto’s identity is an esoteric, hyper-local mystery, which makes the graffiti on this condemned house in Venice, in Los Angeles, all the more intriguing.
A kook, on the other hand, is less a mystery. The word is not obscure. But it’s not used as often in general discourse as it may have been several generations ago. “Kook” in the pictured graffiti is not being used in way that it might be generally understood as synonymous with “crazy person” or “weirdo.” There is another altogether different meaning here.
This other meaning may be more obscure to most people. “Kook” is surfer jargon. Though slangy, the term is not new. It’s been hurled as an insult by surfers for many decades. In short, for surfers “kook” means an inexperienced, often poorly-skilled surfer who’s surfing style and manner reveal a naivete or ignorance of surfing rules, etiquette, techniques and customs.
Venice being a beach town and a surfers town with a strong surfer identity and a gritty surfing heritage, no doubt Spanto — whoever he (or she) is — is being slurred with a surfer’s invocation of “kook.”