"You go out on a boat, shallow reef …”
The rise of the VAL, or vulnerable adult learner, will be one of the great marking features of 2015-2025 when historians look back and lionize this age. Grown men and women deciding to pursue surfing, whole-heartedly, splashing out into the great unknown, chins out and brave but also older.
Oh and we know the wonderful story of Jonah Hill, Patron Saint of VALs, and World Surf League CEO Erik Logan, Oklahoman who discovered power inside a wetsuit, but now let us learn about San Francisco’s lightly controversial district attorney Chesa Boudin who lives in Ocean Beach and, according to a new profile in New York Magazine, “surfs many days a week before dawn” at the “famously difficult break where winter waves can exceed 15 feet” though this has not always been the case as Boudin picked up our surfing after graduating from Yale Law school at the ripe VAL age of 31.
The magazine was profiling Boudin due the light controversy surrounding his tenure as San Francisco’s DA. Videos of mass burglary and theft have circulated online, images of very full tent cities crowding sidewalks, leading many to believe that his progressive attitude toward crime has made San Francisco a lawless pit.
The writer, famous Daniel Duane, meets Boudin in his office and describes thusly:
Boudin has thin brown hair and a scraggly beard that barely camouflages a gigantic jaw. The first time we met, at his office in Potrero Hill, a light-industrial neighborhood popular with start-ups, he wore a fashionable gray-blue suit; he was bound for a political event later in the afternoon. On a wall opposite his desk hung framed photographs of Boudin surfing substantial waves. He pointed to one and said, with the vowels of a Midwesterner and the rapid-fire cadence of a trial lawyer, “That’s me right there in El Salvador. And that’s Samoa — the first wave I got barreled in. I was on this backpacking trip, and I found this resort. You go out on a boat, shallow reef …”
A VAL trifecta, El Salvador, Samoa, backpacking discoveries. Boudin then swings to his childhood, fascinatingly the son of two Weather Underground radicals, his rise into law and politics and the troubles he is facing in San Francisco today. Well worth a read but, for our purposes, Boudin’s position, his stature and his open love of surfing is what will most interest historians.
Does the VAL now own surfing entirely?
Are we mere purposeless danglers?
Much to ponder.