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The Valley Cometh

Miki Dora, Malibu. Photo: Grant Rolhoff
Malibu, 1963
Miki Dora, Malibu, mid-'60s
Miki Dora. Photo: Don James

Miki Dora brimmed over with dark charisma and hypnotic wave-riding talent. For those reasons alone it was hard to take your eyes off him. But surfers—West Coasters in particular—felt connected to Dora for another reason as well: their collective frustration over the decline and fall of Malibu. By the late 1950s, the original perfect wave was fast becoming the sport’s original lost utopia.

While society at large still regarded wave-riding as a borderline cult activity, the surfer population ha...

Surfing was the best thing in Miki Dora’s life, Malibu was the best thing in surfing, and from 1955 onward, as he watched newcomers dividing and multiplying across the Malibu lineup like Fantasia broomsticks, mostly what he felt was loss and anger.