While in San Diego I thought, what better thing to do than meet up with the godfather of surfing, Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz? Doc is 89, and we almost had to nix our meeting because he was sick.
But when I got to his sunny apartment up the coast from San Diego on Friday he seemed pretty fit. The Stanford MD was wearing khaki cargo pants and a red, black and white plaid flannel shirt. It was buttoned up to the neck but still a little loose. His web belt had a silver plaque buckle with the Playboy bunny logo. His wife, Juliette, made me plenty of coffee and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She then set about cooking up a chicken for Shabbat.
I already had a copy of Doc's book - Surfing and Health - and brought him a copy of my own, Columbine: A True Crime Story. I told him it took 10 years for me to write my book, in part because the Jefferson County Sheriff and other authorities had covered up information. "Like what?" Doc asked.
I said probably the most damning item was the draft affidavit for a search warrant for Columbine shooter Eric Harris' home drawn up about one year before the shootings. It was never taken before a judge for the signature that would turn it into a full-blown search warrant. When the officer who wrote up the draft finally told his story when he was faced with investigators from the Colorado Attorney General, he said it simply fell to the bottom of the pile. But I noted that with all the sheriff's office had covered up, they had lost credibility, so it's hard to believe any story that comes out now.
Doc, an old Hawaii hand, then talked of the soldiers monitoring the radar minutes before the Pearl Harbor attack. United States Army privates George E. Elliott Jr. and Joseph Lockard had famously spotted Japanese planes on radar - "an unusually large flight -- in fact, the largest I have ever seen on the equipment," according to an account that attributes those words to Lockard.
The soldiers called it in but duty officer Lt. Kermit Tyler thought it was "American B-17 bombers flying to Pearl Harbor from the mainland," according to the Los Angeles Times account. "Don't worry about it," Tyler told Lockard.
And just like that, Doc said, the course of history can change.
By the way Doc, thanks for the good vibes. I caught a fast and loose, four-foot wave of the day when I got back to Ocean Beach that afternoon.
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