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The Paskowitz patriarch reflects on life & lessons

Dorian Paskowitz : photo courtesy Red Bull

Surf Culture

Family of 11 lived nomadic surf lifestyle 

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 18 August, 2010 : - - Nine children, a battered camper van and two decades of summer: the incredible story of a passionate, unconventional idealist, the world’s most famous surfing family and a utopia that was too beautiful for reality.

As Dorian ‘Doc’ Paskowitz speaks, the ocean is reflected in his face. Furrowed wrinkles branded by the sun meet pacific blue eyes. His flow of words washes away anything that isn’t anchored down well enough. Money? “The root of all evil.” Success? “What comes easily is worth nothing.” War? “A consequence of bad sex.”

Paskowitz is 89 and a passionate surfer, Jew, dreamer, despot, revolutionary and Samaritan. But first and foremost Doc is husband to Juliette and father to David, Jonathan, Abraham, Izzy, Moses, Adam, Salvador Daniel, Navah and Joshua Ben. For two decades he drove around America with them in a tiny mobile home, always on the lookout for good waves.

If he liked a place, he taught his kids to surf there. He did this so well that in the 1970s the Paskowitzes weren’t just the most famous surfing family in the world, they were also dominating youth competitions all over the country. And that was pretty much all they did. Doc’s daughter and eight sons went through childhood with no school, no homework, no stress. Doc created paradise on earth for his kids. Or at least his version of it.


Paskowitz Surf School & their camper


“We were happy when we had nothing. The misery began when we started wanting things,” Doc explains in the first shot of Surfwise, the brilliant documentary about his life. It serves as a perfect potted summary of his 89 years, for Dorian Paskowitz professed ‘not wanting to have things’ as a rule for life. The Paskowitzes spent the 1960s and ’70s as surfing nomads.

By night they lived in a 7.2m camper van parked up by the beach. By day they lived in the ocean. Doc sent his children to what he called the school of life rather than real school: the eight boys and their sister learned to surf and to have respect for others and their own bodies.

“You can’t get health out of a bottle. You’ve got to work for it,” Doc, a qualified medical doctor, would lecture. So unhealthy food was frowned upon, too: in addition to what the family caught themselves, they mainly ate fruit and nothing fatty or sugary. Daily exercise was a matter of course. The Paskowitz family’s fame gradually spread throughout the country.

Their example became the ideal uncompromising life of freedom and adventure. “We had moments of spiritual perfection,” David relates. “We lived a life that all other children envied,” Navah explains. “Not a day went by when we didn’t do something exciting.”

Dorian Paskowitz was in his early 30s when he could no longer suppress the desire for freedom and his complete horror of the petit bourgeois life. It was the 1950s. Doc had a glittering career as a doctor ahead and two failed marriages behind him. He was deeply dissatisfied with life. But then three things happened. First he went to Israel, to the desert, “like Jesus of Nazareth and all the other crazy crackpots, to live like an animal,” for a couple of weeks.

Then he discovered surfing. And finally cunnilingus, “which massively changed my life”. He decided to live out his sexuality, which he hadn’t done to that point. Doc, a lifeguard and stunning-looking at the time, wanted to conquer 100 women and evaluate their horizontal qualities with the cool objectivity of the scientist.

But it all stopped after he gave full marks to number 25: Juliette became his third wife and spent the next 10 years “permanently pregnant or breastfeeding” and she remains the love of his life.

Check the full article in the Red Bulletin

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