Last week, I stood atop the bluff overlooking Malibu Surfrider Beach. Sets of glassy waves marched in, broke, and peeled across the point with machine-perfect shape. There was not a soul in the water. That never happens. Malibu is one of the most crowded breaks on earth. In my four decades of surfing there, never have I seen the waves that good with no one out.
The sky was a headstrong blue. The sea was shimmering. I watched, transfixed. These were the dream waves straight out of the surf magazines of my teens. We’d pin them on our bedroom walls and draw them on our Pee-Chee folders. The central myth in surfing is the search for the perfect, empty wave. We scour the globe for it. And there it was, right under my nose in this city of 10 million people. The beach was deserted. There was not a single car in the typically bustling parking lot. It was both Edenic and post-apocalyptic. And just as I began to imagine myself sneaking out to grab a few, a police car crept up, as if to say, “Don’t even think about it.”