Putting the V in VAL.
The just passed weekend found me, my best friends and our children (aged 4 – 7) smashing pickup trucks over boulders, camping near abandoned mines, skipping along a dried lakebed where the rocks move by magic in California’s Death Valley.
Very off the grid and I was loving every second. The children happy and filthy, danger lurking around every hairpin mule track turn, the nearest cell signal miles upon miles away.
I thought, “If only we could stay out of range forever…” while driving back home, phone registering “no service”… until the town of Ridgeway where its shattered screen fired to life, messages stacked upon stacked, buzzing furiously.
A sense of dread overcame me.
Through squinted eyes, I thought I made out the name “Jonah Hill” involved, or adjacent, to one.
I clicked and read the headline attached, “Jonah Hill slips into his black wetsuit for surf day in Malibu… before showing off his tattoos while going shirtless to towel off,” an informative, albeit slightly wordy, offering showing exactly what was professed.
Scanning further, I discovered that Hill had responded to the story, via Instagram, and slowly read his caption.
I don’t think I ever took my shirt off in a pool until I was in my mid 30s even in front of family and friends. Probably would have happened sooner if my childhood insecurities weren’t exacerbated by years of public mockery about my body by press and interviewers. So the idea that the media tries to play me by stalking me while surfing and printing photos like this and it can’t phase me anymore is dope. I’m 37 and finally love and accept myself. This isn’t a “good for me” post. And it’s definitely not a “feel bad for me post”. It’s for the the kids who don’t take their shirt off at the pool. Have fun. You’re wonderful and awesome and perfect. All my love.
Instantly I knew that surfing’s power of balance had fundamentally shifted.
Hill has been the face of surfing’s recent meteoric spike in popularity but has seemingly been reluctant to be its voice… until this just passed weekend. His message of inclusivity, of positivity, of empowerment sent shockwaves through the media landscape with celebrity after celebrity praising, average Joes and Janes sharing their own stories.
Surfing as vehicle for dialogue.
As vehicle for change.
An entirely beautiful moment that I missed thanks to dumb nature.
A sentiment so pure not even the grumpiest local can begrudge.
The VAL apocalypse transforming into a VAL utopia.
Note: I know that brutalist is a sort of architecture that does not reflect the Daily Mail’s overall aesthetic, which leans toward gothic, but “gothic tabloid” just don’t have the same ring.