Somewhere far away, maybe Manhattan Beach where they can receive proper instruction?
If you were poking around these parts late last week, and by “these parts” I mean BeachGrit, then you might have seen me get real angry at the NBA, Apple and our very own Vans for capitulating to vague Chinese pressures without even putting up half a fight. Not even a pretend fight. Ooooooh it burned me. Burned me that American companies, leagues and organizations will fly the rainbow flag, preach tolerance, broadcast freedom of speech but it comes to actual freedom of speech and the fight of those brave Hong Kong protesters in the face of Beijing’s overwhelming totalitarian might, they all rolled on their backs, pulled apps, canceled press conferences, vanished art.
A shame. An embarrassing black eye but as I continued to burn through the weekend realized nobody cares. There’s no call here or in Australia or Europe to boycott Apple. No protests in support of Hong Kong in New York. No benefit concerts or even Instagram campaigns.
There is but deafening silence.
Well, this morning I woke up after an odd night ready to shake off disappointment with the west and get back to the business of The People™ when I stumbled across a story in the Pensacola Times about a new documentary on the China Beach Surf Club. It was composed of Americans fighting in Vietnam in the 1960s and made famous by Col. Kilgore in the epic Apocalypse Now.
China Beach Surf Club sounds like a wonderful film, in any case, and I would very much like to see it and let’s dip a toe into the history together.
“They had tried to start a club up originally before I was there and it didn’t really amount to a lot, I think they had 15 to 20 members,” the 73-year-old Martin recalled. “But it didn’t really advance to anything.”
When Martin was deployed to Da Nang, Vietnam, in November 1967, he soon made friends with the lifeguards and gained access to the lifeguard building.
Martin gained permission from his commanding officer to organize the club, agreeing to repair surfboards and take some of the burden off of the lifeguards who cared for China Beach surfers in addition to their standard duties.
Soldiers looking to surf during their down time were assigned a card by Martin, who would personally vet their surfing abilities — or lack thereof — before giving them the green light.
“There were not that many surfboards and we just didn’t really want every Joe Blow to have use of a board that did not really know how to surf,” Martin said. “What I would do is I would actually take the people out to the water, and I would be in the water and watch them to see if they have any skills or anything. And if they surfed well enough and they could use a board without damaging it, I’d issue them a card.”
I read the last bit with heart pounding, thinking to myself, “What a fantastic idea! Surfing ability – or lack thereof – should still be vetted. Those who can’t surf, or who choose to SUP, should be ordered out of the water and into re-education camps somewhere far away, maybe Manhattan Beach, where they can receive proper instruction on…”
…before realizing that I am no different from President Xi Jinping. A dirty, ruthless, unbending, stern eye’d totalitarian.
But am I really?
Also let’s hurry up and get this surf vetting thing off the ground ASAP. Any ideas on how to implement broadly all at once?