There’s nothing in this post about voting out our esteemed president. Some hope, yeah; but nothing negative about the… dude.
EDIT- I woke up realizing I couldn’t let that go. I have been wondering about who, with so much truth available on what an immoral sack of deceit and seemingly bottomless self-centered meanness our power craving fuckwad of a president is, could continue to salivate each time he slurs out some new slurry of lies and just plain shit.
Make no mistake, like the people he has scammed in the past, you, if you are not someone filling your pockets in this new age cleptocracy, you are someone your leader, no doubt, considers a sucker and a loser. How much you have to lose is easily accessible. Oh, you might have to look somewhere other than Fux News.
My first SUP was, I thought, twelve feet long. As I have with every board I’ve ridden more than a few times, I thrashed the shit out of it; rode it over a few too many rocks, rode it onto a few rocky beaches. Surfing; that’s what boards are for.
By the time I got a newer board, that one was sooo heavy, soooo dinged up. I stuck up against a tree, hoping it would get lighter. Didn’t really work. Since I didn’t think I’d ever ride the thing again, I decided to strip it down and make a shorter, more responsive, lighter one.
My current board, a Hobie, is ten foot, six inches long, has carried me through thousands of waves, over many rocks, and is appropriately thrashed, poorly patched (drips, not sanded out), and, since I seem to be knee-boarding more and standing less, it seems proper that I go for a smaller board.
Yeah, but I still want it floaty enough to use a paddle. This is where the twelve foot comes in. After looking at the dead SUP and imagining how I’d cut some off the front, some off the tail, do a minimum of trimming, and, yeah…
No. The board was eleven feet, and, with a little cut off the front and back, with a skil saw, I suddenly had a really rough seven foot six blank. OOPS. I did, after stripping off the glass, throw it in the water to see if it would float me. Maybe, hopefully, not really sure. I’m also not really sure if, even if the blank did, if it as a further shaped and properly glassed board would.
So, after purchasing a couple of tools, including a plane for the stringer, and spending way too much time trying to get, like, one rail that matched the other side, I had roughly shaped a fat, downrail, pocket-rocking, fish-tailed, wailing vessel.
Yeah, well, that’s when I got ahold of Mike Norman, formerly nicknamed Mike-eee, not because there’s an E in Norman or anything, but to differentiate him from Mike Squintz. Well, Squintz has gone back to Florida, and, anyway, most surfers in the area called him Smoker Mike. Well, when he actually gives up smoking… Mike does work at the Port Townsend boatyard; not sure where, specifically, and he has been building a few surfboards lately, and, anyway…
Anyway, even though I heard Mike would have been farther ahead if I hadn’t tried to be all Skip Frye/Mike Hynson on the blank, I have made a deal with Mike; he finishes the shaping, figures out the fin setup, does the glassing. I might sneak in and do some graphics; oh, and some money will change hands, AND I will give Mike the 5’9″ Bic fish I got cheap and used from Al Perlee down at the Surf Shop in Westport, tried to ride. Once. Mike has kids who can use it. Even though I rode six foot boards for years (years ago now) a 5’9″ looks like a toy to me now.
Oh, yeah; and I was a bit lighter, also. Oh, yeah; and I said I would do a logo for Mike’s boards. Here it is:
I do need to make it a bit, um, simpler. Yeah, working on it.
Now, if it comes down to a few pounds that makes the difference between a paddle and no paddle… again, we’ll see.
I freely admit to being a Liberal; but, because it is so blatantly obvious, I must always add that I am quite a hypocritical Liberal. I believe in the causes, mostly centered around giving help to those who need it, but do little to push or even support these causes.
In many ways I’m pretty fucking conservative. Not so much that I only briefly considered dropping the ‘fucking’ from the previous sentence; but enough that I strongly believe a person should have a set of values and principles that he or she will try, and try hard to abide by. Key to this is living up to one’s word.
That has proven difficult many times in my life and career. “You said you were going to do such and such.” “Really?” “Really.” “Yeah; well then; okay; such AND such.”
I considered throwing a ‘fuck’ into that sentence.
Okay, maybe I’m more of a Libertarian; that would take some of the hypocrisy out of my self-analysis. Sure, it’s legal and all to smoke cannabis, for example, even before surfing, even if it makes you only think you’re ripping. Feel free. It’s just, I choose not to. Okay with you?
I very recently met a new pastor of a church I was bleaching and washing in preparation for painting. I know many of the congregants, enough to know that many, as is true across all religions, consider themselves conservative. Since my belief is that there is a higher power, but it is one that we cannot even begin to define or even comprehend, one we cannot possibly bend to our will or our traditions and rules and doctrines, and that there is, as far as I can tell, no group rate to salvation/heaven/nirvana/fill in the blank; spirituality is, it would seem, quite obviously, an individual matter. Free choice.I
I feel compelled to add that it’s find with me if someone doesn’t believe in a higher power. Again, it really can’t make a difference in who or what a higher power is. Or isn’t.
The reason I mentioned meeting the new pastor, about my older son’s age, 42ish, which, I told him, “Explains the Batman shirt,” is that I also told him that “I’m a Liberal; you know; like Jesus.”
Yes, then I added the hypocritical part; that Jesus started pretty much every sentence with (and you can check this out- look for the parts in red) “You hypocrites,” and that, while Jesus really pushed two big things; loving one’s neighbor and helping the poor; I pretty much have a bad record on both counts. Yes, my current neighbors are fine, but yes, I will go way out of my way not to drive past anyone with a sign asking for help/work/money/Trump-love.
It’s probably just power politics as usual, but the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has put a spotlight on the hypocrisy of McConnell and Graham, and their inability to stand behind their word. It must be added that McConnell’s blocking of Merrick Garland was a hard core political sleeze job only possible to explain, but not justify, as ‘we got the hammer, fuck you’; that obviously, according to this line of reasoning, does explain (again, not justify) his push to push another idealogue of his preferred ideals into a lifetime position deciding cases that folks have been lusting to have go their way for many years. Lusting. Hard core lust, with politicians running on vows to stop the horror of abortion, increase the wonders of executions, make sure anyone who wants weapons of war… you know the issues. Freedom. Well, freedom for this, not that; different list.
Here’s what I’ve always wondered: Do people really want what conservatives call conservative values, to return to some imagined better, ‘Leave it to Beaver’ time (beaver- not a code word) where people knew their place (this is code- you know the people they’re talking about). Scary.
Anyway; I have told several people that the next time there’s a swell that might find its way into local waters; whatever else is happening; I’m going.
I will, come hell or high water, try to live up to that.
It’s really REGGIE’S STORY, told to me, retold a few times, and now, it’s here at realsurfers.
SO, real surfer Reggie is at the Port Angeles Safeway. “You know,” Reggie told me, “the first word in Safeway is safe. I didn’t feel so safe.” SO, again, there’s two dudes, both with those dayglo kind of shirts meant to keep people working in the street from getting run over; and they’ve got on hats with the brims (Reggie claims this means something) “Really curved.” Okay. Now maybe he was trying to read whatever message was actually printed on their hats, and maybe he looked too long, but the dudes showed no sign of putting on their masks before entering, and “they had that look that was, like, daring someone to say something, but the one hillbilly looks at me… I’ve got my mask on… and he kinda pulls up his shirt enough, because he wants to make damn sure that I can see that he’s got a gun.”
“Yeah; and he makes sure I notice this; gives me this look.” Reggie adds what I would have to call an Elvis Presley snarl, though, if that’s too out-dated, imagine, maybe, Billy Idol; who, incidentally, Reggie includes in another story; some dude Reggie saw in a Seattle area Home Depot parking lot, the guy hanging out, promoting Trump, with an oversized truck flying an oversized American flag, and Billy Idol playing overloud on the guy’s radio. “Haven’t you anything better to do?” Reggie asks. “What, better than defending ‘merica?” The guy probably snarled when he was mouthing, “White Wedding.” More more more. Maybe that’s a different Idol song.
So, so, so, the snarling dude and his color-matched partner do the white guy shuffle through the Safeway doors; no masks, and the main billy grabs a cart, turns, again, to Reggie, says, “Black carts matter.”
I’m not sure if that’s a punchline or not. I found the story more unsettling than amusing. Reggie, who always claims he was raised in a tough part of Seattle, and that he’s had guns actually pointed at him on several occasions, and that he has bought and sold vans, which he restores and turns into camper-ready rigs, sort of was amused, but he said, when I offered to post the story here, and, if he wanted, change his name, that, “No, the punchline is that Reggie is actually white.”
Very white. I have described Reggie as “kind of a pretty boy with neck tattoos.” That may be insensitive. Not sure. I could change it to something with a more macho tone like, uh… well, I do have it on good authority that some of the women surfers on the Olympic Peninsula call him Reggie ‘good abs.’ Good authority as in I heard it from a woman surfer.
Anyway, surf’s still non-existent out here, the smoke’s heavy, air unbreathable, Trump supporters are prowling the parking lots and supermarkets, and, uh, let me see if I have a photo of Reggie.
Stuck inside because the winds that blew smoke from fires in California and Oregon out to sea has shifted. The smoke has moved up and come in full strength (thickness might be a better word) with the onshore flow, that push not enough to offer any real surf. There is enough stagnant air, probably about a pack and a half a day’s worth (not sure how to quantify this for vapers, those who inhale vapors, on purpose), that makes even the non-running-type work of painting seems hazardous.
Or maybe it’s an excuse to stay inside and write.
I worked on tightening several chapters of “Swamis,” and then wrote the following. This will most likely not make it to the completed manuscript, but, partially (mostly) because feedback pushed me toward more fully covering the death of Joseph DeFreines, Senior; which I have, mostly gotten out of the way, I have been forced to consider that “Swamis” is just too fucking much for one book.
The characters have been established, the storyline set in motion. In the original, unexpurgated version, there were more references to how the events from 1969 affect the future lives of Jody and Ginny and Baadal and Jumper and Portia, and others. If I cut the story off somewhere before the mystery of who killed Chulo is resolved, possibly, that could be the second part of a trilogy, a book centering on the (fully) adult characters could provide a wraparound that would… yeah, I could do this.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing. And, not to be too political, I feel compelled to add that… okay, I have a story, true life, featuring gun-toting, non-mask-wearing non-surfers and their interaction with a heavily-tattooed surfer outside a Port Angeles Safeway. OH, and, still, no surf on the Strait, no place to surf if there were waves. Not political. Here’s the excerpt:
CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2020
I am currently 198 (pages out of 291) through a full manuscript rewrite, this triggered by the feedback from bloated, confusing unexpurgated draft containing somewhere in excess of 123,000 words. With a hundred pages left to go, having deleted somewhere around 64,000 words, “Swamis,” right now, is back up to 121,725 words, and, with as much as I plan to cut out some of what remains in the story, I am increasingly aware that I can’t (partially as in, I am not willing to) eliminate enough.
The manuscript in which I actually got to ‘the end’ was saved, one copy printed, several copies sent out, somewhere before the pandemic, before the shutdowns and the election meddling and the rest, before the smoke from the way-worse-than-usual fires.
“Swamis,” the story, it too big. Trilogy? Maybe. I’m looking for a place to cut it off, a place to pull out. All I can give you is words, and as Ginny Cole said about a black and white photo of a sunset, a person’s mind fills in the colors.
News travels quickly; bad news travels quickly-er. Early yesterday, mini cell phone networks were buzzing/ringing/chiming with news that the trail leading to and providing legal access to an only-recently-reopened (officially, after over forty years of being, officially, off limits) spot that, on the rare occasion that a swell enters the Strait of Juan de Fuca, has, yes, waves; has been officially, closed down. Yes, the trail and the parking lot, complete with two sani-cans; closed.
The signs posted early said, “Site closed due to misuse, trespass and parking violations. No walk-in use allowed. Violators will be ticketed and towed.”
No, it wasn’t you. Of course not. You didn’t camp in the parking area, or, if it was full (and, granted, the inadequately-sized lot was sometimes, on rumor and speculation, full before dawn), park on the street or blocking someone’s driveway; you didn’t go off the trail despite signs; you didn’t vandalize the outbuildings nearby, you didn’t bring dogs despite the signs; you didn’t build a fire or leave trash or crap in the weeds or in the driftwood. It wasn’t you.
You would certainly agree that whoever did ruin a doubtlessly good thing, not designed solely or even primarily for surfers, is, doubtlessly, an asshole. Or several assholes.
Speaking of which, the stated reason the access was denied around 1980 was that people had disrespected the area. Shit. Yep. On the beach.
It wasn’t me. I first surfed the beach in 1979, shortly after moving to the northwest. You had to drive perilously close to the front door of a person who was, one, almost always there, and two, not obviously fond of surfers. Still, early Port Angeles surfers had brokered a sort of truce and you could drive straight out, turn and go on a rough road over the riprap, to a spot with trees and, on rare occasion, waves.
Again, someone fucked that deal up; but, surfers being persistent, other ways in were developed; down a cliff, through a river and around a point. Eventually, a local resident offered access, less and less secret; and never popular with other locals. When he died, that access was gone.
Somewhere around noon on Thursday, heavy equipment was brought in, big blocks to keep vehicles out of the parking area. Done. Blocked. Barricaded.
Many fickle surf spots on the Olympic Peninsula have been shut off by private landowners controlling the access. Neah Bay is closed, as is La Push. Covid is, yes, part of it; but the folks who might otherwise be hanging out at Hobuck have been concentrating at other spots. Some of those parking areas are, despite general ignorance on the subject, on private property, kept available only through a longterm agreement.
They could be shut down. Access denied. No, it wouldn’t be your fault. You would never camp on someone else’s property without permission; leave trash, blah, blah, blee blah. Not you.
It’s Labor Day weekend; it’s going to be hot; the ferries and highways headed west are probably already getting packed. It’s currently 7:46 on Friday. Good luck.
I was on my way back home, south on Surf Route 101, and, as is part of most of my surf expeditions into the cell-free zone (not free if you pay roaming/Canada fees), I had lists of things to get in the Vortex that is Sequim. So, checking out at Costco, I notice the checker, on the other side of plexiglass, has a black facemask with images and writing.
Oh. I was, of course, curious. “I, um, can’t read everything on your, uh…”
He pulled the mask taut, and, though I can now read it, he tells me what it says. “Stand for the flag, kneel for God.”
“Oh. Okay. That’s, um, a little political, isn’t it?”
“A little, maybe, but that’s what I believe.”
“Sure.” Pause while I sign the check. “Um, uh, what about if someone’s, say, on his knees, but he’s doing this?” I make the sign of the cross, punctuated, as I often do, with a throwing out of the right hand as a sort of shout out to God. I know what it means; an acknowledgement that I have serious faults. I kind of figure God also gets it. God, after all.
“Oh,” the checker said. That’s it. He’d already told the girl who asked if I wanted any boxes that he was going on break in eight minutes. My receipt was on the cart and I was shuffling toward the exit.
It took a while before I thought, if he was, and I’m pretty sure he was, referring to football players kneeling during the national anthem, a gesture referencing the social injustice that can be denied but not, evidently, corrected; I could have mentioned that I have observed, when a football player is seriously injured, injured enough that the game has to be stopped, other players, from both teams, gather around the medical team and the injured player, and take a knee.
Are they insulting the flag?
How would I know? I was busy thinking about how many waves I caught, how many hodads and kooks and rippers were around, what other spots might have been breaking; almost forgetting that, though I’m certainly not above praying for surf on the way out, I am a bit lax in thanking God for a beautiful day and a few fun rides. Yeah, that’s from me, kneeboarding; not out of any disrespect.
I always believed surfers are either apolitical or apathetic, too busy to check out much beyond weather and surf forecasts, maybe follow a few YouTube channels; AND, if a surfer/rebel/individualist were to be political, I assumed he or she would be liberal.
OF COURSE, until I had cash stolen from my vehicle (twice) while I surfed, I believed real surfers had a sort of honor code that meant surfers don’t steal from other surfers. OKAY, so it was, like, $66.00 or so, pretty much take home pay from my $1.65/hr wage back in 1969; and I did write off the first theft (shame on him) as having been done by, obviously, a non-surfer. HA! Shame on me.
ANYWAY, the elections are coming up and my postings might just get a touch political. I hope you’re not touchy.
SO, SCANNING the internet a bit past the surf forecasts, I discovered the CHUMPS4TRUMP site, with it’s motto: “Last time was for four years, this time it’s for life,” and it’s slogan, “If you voted for Trump, you’re already a member.” Anyway, there’s some advice for Trump-agators (apparently some illusion to draining some metaphorical swamp and filling it with those willing to pay more for a position- bids accepted) who might also claim to surf (sometimes, once in Hawaii, back in the day, once a year at private beaches in third world countries- or Malibu) or consider themselves actual surfers (as in, own a Wavestorm and a fake boogie board).
Here it is: Please stay out of the water between now and November 4th, election day; The Donald has decreed that “a lot of folks say salt water might be polluted; that’s what they say, so, be safe; don’t get a cold; don’t go in. Hang in the parking area; that’s almost like surfing; a lot of people say.”
BUT, gators (special shout out to agi-gators and protest infil-gators), when you do vote, Wednesday, November 4, you must remember to, one, do it in person, and two, don’t look like a snowflake in a designer mask. If the deep state or other local overlords force you to wear a mask, chumps4trump, incorporated. LLC, recommends BURLAP; available in a variety of shades of red; and, yes, made in America by the same folks who bring you the My Pillow. Oh, so wonderfully fluffy and white.
ALL RIGHT, since any true Trump-ladite would have given up reading by now, the truth is I made up a lot of this stuff. So, I lied. It used to be a bad thing.
So, here’s the truth: Trump doesn’t give a fuck if you get sick. The actual election day is Tuesday, November 3, and, because the Trump Person who donated enough to get the opportunity to weaken his competitor has done his damnedest to screw up and slow down the UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, when you get your ballot, send it in immediately or bring it to a secure ballot dropoff spot. Hopefully, enough people will be monitoring these sites to make sure our votes don’t get, um, uh, lost.
It’s not like I’m apologizing. I have some real concerns about businesses failing, a lack of any kind of support for small businesses and want-to-be-working folks from the Republican-controlled Senate, the members of which can’t even discuss anything Don won’t sign- and can’t believe him when he says he supports anything Fox doesn’t pre-approve. No matter how the investment class keeps playing the stock market, this shit will eventually hit the fan. BUT, MOSTLY, it is very difficult for me to believe that anyone can believe in (as in he loves America more than himself) or vote for the (I’ll leave out the adjectives- you know what he is) current President. If you made the mistake once, shame on him…
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG with something you have written, read it out loud. I figured I would start with that, only part of what happened at the “Art and Writings of Erwin Dence” Zoom event on the most recent Thursday night.
Keith Darrock, Port Townsend Librarian (he has a fancier title I can’t remember- just think librarian only more so, add in that he rips on any board in an ever-increasing quiver) and I got into the Zoom virtual space early, me on standby in my living room, he moving his laptop to an appropriate location in his home, books in the background.
Trish and our daughter, Dru, who had spent a lot of time making a slideshow from the illustrations (available for viewing on the previous post, non-slideshow) were joining-in from Dru’s place in Port Gamble.
I had spent part of the day preparing for what I hoped and imagined would happen at the Zoom event, having been way too distracted to get any significant work done the previous day because I was contacting and inviting (texting, mostly) folks I thought might be willing to participate.
WHEN I DID speak to someone, it turned into… well, I do like to talk. I should particularly mention that I spent some time on the cell phone with a local Port Townsend (professional- as in no other ‘real’ job) writer who was gracious/foolish enough to read the entire unexpergated version of “Swamis” and give me a lot of guidance. He said he’d probably be watching the last night of the Democratic National Convention, but, again, he was gracious/foolish enough to discuss what changes I had made to the manuscript since his review, and he did reveal why he had dedicated himself to writing. “I just couldn’t see myself doing anything else for a living.” “Road construction, retail sales?” “Good luck.”
BECAUSE I had never actually written a succinct description of “Swamis,” as in 25 words or less, and I wanted to sound more author-like if pressed, I endeavored to do so. Okay, it’s 376 words or so. AND, because, in my mind, the audience/Zoomers might include the folks who have attended library events in the past, I went through the manuscript and picked out three pages that I thought might appeal to that educated group of hip and literate PT word lovers. The subchapter is one of the more (I thought) semi-romantic parts of the story.
SO, 7pm Pacific Daylight Savings Time is 3pm on the Big Island of Hawaii where Stephen R. Davis, freshly freed from quarantine, is hanging out (and, yeah, I guess, working). He was one of the first to ZOOM in, from his phone, from a vehicle, riding with former PT resident, and, by all accounts, surf ripper, McKinna (probably didn’t get the name right- I’ve heard of him but may never have met him- son of a well-known surfer, actually learned to surf in Wa. state), heading out looking for surf.
“So crowded,” Steve said, “Lots of wahines in bikinis. Very little material. I can’t tell you how little material there is in these bikinis.”
Okay, pretty appropriate. By the time some other folks had joined, Steve and McKinna were going out at a surf spot with (we got to see this) some great looking waves. Other folks had joined in, a couple of library types, as in solid citizens, but mostly local surfers I could easily name; and, if I get them to sign some simple non-disclosure agreements, I might. Joke. Sort of. Permission.
If I had to summarize the evening, it was like what one would hear from a group of surfers in any beachside parking area, probably anywhere: Who snaked who, what happened after that one session at that one spot, where did all the hipsters and hodads come from, and what about that time when…
SOMEWHERE IN THERE, about the time when I had to cut my video because of limited bandwidth from my overstretched DSL line (not that I minded this, the slideshow was designed, mostly, so that folks didn’t have to look at me) I did read my description of “Swamis,” and, most-embarrassingly, I did read the three pages I had (erroneously) selected, trying to vary the voices for the four characters.
THERE ARE sections of the novel with actual surfing, brilliantly described, with less dialogue from fewer voices.
THIS WAS WHEN STEPHEN R. DAVIS returned, chased, he said, out of the water by a “pack of rippers. Kids. They’re everywhere over here. So many rippers.” SO, we (and we, by this time, included, among others, Dru’s friend, professional DJ, Trenton, and Trisha’s nephew, and, I guess, my nephew-in-law, or, maybe, just nephew, Dylan, La Jolla surfer and recent graduate from UCLA Law School) were treated to another virtual tour of the Big Island, commentary by Steve, with continuing banter from what constitutes most of the unofficial PT Surf crew, special dispensation for ADAM WIPEOUT and, sort of, me, both of us from the SURF ROUTE 101 division. Unofficial.
NEXT DAY REVIEW: Fun; some good stories shared. Trish told Dru I was nothing like Joey in my novel, told me I definitely need help in writing anything even close to romantic fiction. Steve added significantly to if he did not entirely save the event. Dylan, probably used to surfing in the crowded California city surf with it’s ghetto mentality, thought it was great that surfers actually could enjoy each other’s company, even virtually. Steve and McKinna scored some empty rights at sunset, Hawaii time.
Here’s my description of “Swamis:”
Joseph DeFreines, Jr. tells stories centered around the legendary Southern California surf spot, Swamis, focusing on 1969. It’s a world of hippies and burnouts and Jesus Freaks and protesters, a time when words like love and peace and war and revolution might all be used in a single sentence.
Joseph’s father, a detective with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office, has just died in, of course, mysterious circumstances; Joe has just graduated from an inland high school and moved to the coast; he’s turning eighteen and facing the draft; and he’s falling in love with a surfer girl whose father definitely has a connection with the North County’s cash crop, the area’s open secret, marijuana.
The growing and processing and selling of marijuana is progressing, getting more sophisticated, more profitable, and more dangerous. The formerly cottage industry is evolving from the homegrown, with plants hidden in the avocado orchards and kids selling dime bags. There is money to be laundered, good citizens getting involved. There is, or could be, a wholesale market.
The unofficial line with the Sheriff’s Office, in a quote from Joseph, Senior, is “The world works on an acceptable level of corruption.”
When a man is burned to death just outside of the white walls of the religious compound that gives Swamis its name, that level has been breached.
While surfing has its too-obvious allure; too much freedom in too little clothing, its aura of rebellion and undeniable coolness, it also has, at least in Joseph’s mind, a certain set of high standards, a code of conduct. He’s wrong. He’s naïve. It’s a different world, existing con-currently with the world of commuters, the world of law enforcement, the world of pot… so many concurrent realities.
The characters in “Swamis” are complex: A detective’s son with possible epilepsy and a history of violent outbursts; a wounded returning Vietnam Vet; an ex-teen runaway-turned-evangelist; a Japanese war bride; a hired thug who becomes a respected detective; a black photojournalist; an East Indian who wanted to be a revolutionary and was banished from London; Mexican middlemen under immense pressure. If Swamis are seekers more than prophets, they are all Swamis. Still, none are perfect.
Maybe Virginia Cole. To Joey.
Maybe, among the chaos, there’s the occasional perfect moment, the perfect ride on a perfect wave.
Thursday, August 20, 7pm Pacific Daylight Savings Time. So, to Zoom in, and, frankly, I’m a bit worried about this, particularly since I can’t seem to figure out how to highlight stuff so it’s easy for you, but, okay, https://zoom.us/j/91279664230
Allright. No, not really, but, when the event starts, moderator/curator/librarian/ripper Keith Darrock is planning to show some of my illustrations. This is partially so Zoomers don’t have to see my face, and it was totally my idea. Yeah, Keith agreed. It seems like the easiest way to do this was to put a bunch on my site, let Keith scroll down. As such, I have attempted to move some from a thumb drive. We’ll see how that works. Stand by.
Things went wrong when I tried to post this yesterday. I had three or four paragraphs written, then did the cut-and-paste thing. OOPS! I had two copies of the text, taken from my manuscript for “Swamis,” and, when I tried several ways to speed up the deletion of the unwanted second version; errrrrrr, I eliminated the other stuff.
Anyway, this particular chapter is, in my work of fiction, written by 22 year old Jumper Hayes, freshly back from and severely wounded as a Marine in Vietnam. It’s 1969, and he asks the fictional Jody, just turning 18 and a fellow student in a Creative Writing class at Palomar Junior College, to type up what he had written.
What is very important to me is that anyone reading “Swamis” be certain that the writer was there; that it is accurate and has the feel of the place at the time. Since I wasn’t in Vietnam, I asked Trisha’s brother, my brother-in-law, James L. Scott, who was an officer in the Marines in Vietnam, to provide some feedback.
And he did. He said it read like it was written by someone who wasn’t there. He particularly pointed out the lack of swearing.
SO, here’s my solution. Jim said it was ‘better.’ I’m thinking he’s giving it a C+, maybe more like, hopefully, a B-. Check it out.
Wait, here’s what I was doing while Jim was in Vietnam. That’s a board, the “Sunshine Super Seed” with me, a board Scott Sutton made, sold to Trish. Her mother thought Scott ripped Trish off, so I bought it. Very thick. I could, at the time, knee paddle it.
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE- WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 17, 1969
This is the piece Jumper submitted in Creative Writing class:
There weren’t enough claymores; or someone had set them off too soon; or there were just too many of them. VC. Local irregulars. Them.
It wasn’t a firefight. We were doing most of the shooting. Our position wouldn’t hold. We would be overrun. Too many of them, running, charging, pushing others forward; leaping over branches and bodies. Almost all of them were yelling, screaming; their screams mixed with ours, with the screams and moaning of pain, the constant-but-irregular beat of gunfire.
We couldn’t kill enough of them fast enough.
“Fall back!” the LT yelled, just before he fell back, dead; two soldiers over from me. A couple Marines ran. Others backed away, automatic weapons fanning the clearing.
I stood up, firing blindly; left to right, right to left. Screaming.
I felt the first bullet. Heat, then numbness, my left arm suddenly useless. I saw the expressions on the faces; fear and anger and determination, then surprise, as I dropped two of the three charlies coming at me. Closer. So close.
The second one fell forward. His momentum versus a bullet. My rifle was jammed against his chest. I kept firing. As I was falling backwards, the third soldier struck me in the side of my head; and kept running.
This is battle. Fear and anger and determination and confusion. Falling back and falling down.
I was never unconscious. Time had become nothing; time was blood in my eyes.
I was lying next to Sammy, PFC, smartass fucker from Houston; dead, wet, and cold; cold by Vietnam standards. Vietnam, that steaming, sweating, triple-canopy jungle, rice fields that smelled like shit, scared yet smiling villagers; Viet-fucking-by-god-Nam.
The two gooks; kids, really, more like conscripted villagers, rice farmers with guns; the two I had just shot, were on top of me, all of us in an awkward pile; their blood mixing with mine. Pressure on my other wound. The bad one. I was behind a tree blown down by one of the previous air strikes. I was squirming under the bodies and as close to the trunk as I could get. More than a dozen feet stepped on us; running, charging, now chasing rather than attacking.
There is a tradition, as old as man, as old as war: Once a position is secured, others make sure each one of the enemy fighters; the vanquished, the defeated, the overrun; is dead. Weapons and clothes and some measure of revenge are the spoils; souvenirs; guns, clothes, ears.
Almost instantly, flies and crawling insects attacked. They know death. They know the difference, they don’t fucking care. The flying and buzzing and crawling.
At the Little Bighorn, I thought, and I’m not sure why; I was trying so hard just to be quiet; women from the tribe smashed the heads of each one of the dead enemy soldiers; with the exception of, it’s said, General Custer. Out of respect. Respect?
That was more legend than history. The history of man is the history of war. You don’t have to know history to know the truth of this.
I was just trying not to move, to be still, quiet, alive; when I felt movement, heard moaning. Low, close. It was the kid, on top of me; not dead, getting louder. I couldn’t allow this.
Maybe his moaning had been a prayer. So sorry.
The noise, the gunfire and the yelling, which had been getting farther away, maybe an hour or so after the initial attack, was now coming back toward me. Marines, motherfuckers; don’t like losing. Reinforcements. And we had the firepower. An airstrike might be called in; cannons or mortars or planes or helicopter gunships, fifty caliber machine guns; followed by fresh troops.
At least, if I was in the targeted grid, it would be quick.
Some of the same shoes, jungle tennies, that ran over me before; ran over me again. Retreating. I clung to consciousness. Eventually I heard calmer voices, mopping up. “Here’s one,” a voice said. “You alive, pal?”
“I think so,” I said.
The next thing I remember was the sound of a helicopter. V-woop, woop, woop.
“We killed the fuck out of them slopes, Gunny,” the Marine at the landing site, said. “Good to hear,” I said. He said, “You’re walking. You’ll have to wait for the next one.”
I wasn’t walking. I was standing. The next evacuation would be mostly bodies. “Don’t think so, Corporal,” I said, lifting my empty rifle with the arm that still worked.
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO- SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1969
I’m dropping back a few days. Jumper Hayes and I were in the formal dining room at his parents house, his chair moved to one of the corners of the table, mine at what I guessed was his father’s spot, my typewriter case open in front of me.
“Overrun” was Jumper’s story. Surprisingly shocked by his original, hand-written version; I was equally surprised when he asked me to type it for him; and more surprised when he seemed so casual, even detached, as I read my third draft out loud, then handed it to him as if it was done. Complete. Ready to hand in.
“Sounds good. Mostly. Different than I’d of thought.”
“It’s your words. Mostly.”
“Semi-colons,” he asked, “they’re, um, useful?”
“They’re like, um; somewhere between comas and periods,” I said.
“It’s, it’s like, when someone reads it, out loud; it’s the rhythm.”
“Rhythm. Yeah; I heard that, like a, um, cadence. Semi-colons.”
“It’s like surfing; smooth flow…” There were hand gestures here. “Take off, drop, turn, set up, swoop… flow. Didn’t you ever think surfing is like…”
Jumper pointed to my free hand. “A little jerky on your set up there, Jody.”
I dropped both hands. “I’m not changing anything; maybe just, uh, rearranging.”
“I only asked you to type it up, man.”
“Yeah; well; editing; it’s a, uh, collaborative… process. Some stuff has to be… cut.”
“Oh? Collaborative… editing process? Well, Jody, seems like you cut out a lot of fucking, cocksucking, motherfucking, shit-stomping, goddamn swearing, there; makes it sound like it was written by some draft-dodging, tit-sucking, flag-burning, mom’s boy, queer-bait, pussy, shit-bird, asshole, cocksucker who wasn’t fuckin’ there.” When I seemed adequately shocked, he added, in a bit of a whisper, with a bit of a smile, “I was… there.”
“Okay, Jumper,” I said, pointing to the second page, “I did leave in the ‘motherfuckers’ in the, um, ‘Marines, motherfuckers, don’t like losing’ sentence.”
Jumper laughed. “So, uh, no; Jody; you have to own the words. If you read it right, like you’ve ever fuckin’ sworn before; maybe, in your life, it’d be, like…” He rose from his chair. “‘Marines, mo-ther-fuck’-ers…’ like… hey; here’s something, Jody: Our LT… his name was… it wasn’t his name; we called him Berkeley; it’s where he was from. Or, at least, he went there. Anyway… fucking Berkeley. He was a gung ho motherfucker.” Jumper looked at me when he said ‘motherfucker;’ we both nodded- good flow. “He was ‘God Bless America! Fuck everyone else!’ Yeah. Really. A couple of months in country, though; he changed. Hey; I was the second whitest guy in the platoon. Want to know how he died?”
“Who? Berkeley? Not really.”
“Okay.” Jumper sat back down, looked at my corrections and editing on his story, looked at the portable Smith-Corona typewriter, sitting in its open case, and taking up one-eighth of the available space on the oversized, family table, almost more like a picnic table with a shine and doilies. Most of the surface was covered in stacks, neat stacks of newspapers, invoices, order forms, bills and correspondence. Again, neatly stacked, properly dusted.
Jumper looked at the new piece of paper spooling around on my typewriter. “I should have taken a typing class, Jody. Valuable.”
“Yeah. A whole year. Eighth grade.” Jumper sat back down. “Glad I did.” I sat down in front of the typewriter. “Would you feel better if you told me?”
“Double space is appropriate,” I said, nodding at the page. “I mean, about Berkeley. Would talking about him, what happened, would it make you feel… better?”
“Okay.” I started typing, looking at the page on the table. “Maybe another time.” I pulled a piece of twice-used masking tape from the inside of the case, hung the previous typed draft onto the leading edge of the open case. Rather like a curtain. “Or never. I’m putting some fucking, ass-licking… um, just tell me where to put in the swearing. Where it’s… appropriate.”
I heard a door open and close. I heard voices. “Use your best fucking judgment,” Jumper whispered, his eyes going between the hanging pages and my face; “oh, and I wasn’t calling you a… an asshole. Didn’t mean you.”
“Sure.” I set my fingers on the proper keys, eyes on the last draft, and started typing, whispering, “draft-dodging, tit-sucking, flag-burning, mom’s boy, queer-bait, pussy, shit-bird, asshole, cocksucker.” By the time I got to “who wasn’t fuckin’ there” it was less than a whisper.
In time I converted the Jumper swear to “Draft-dodging, flag-burning cocksucker; tit-sucking, mom’s boy, queer-bait, pussy asshole.” Better flow, I thought. I cut out ‘shit-bird,’ I owned the words.
This is the version of Jumper’s piece I kept; “Overrun,” written by a twenty-two-year old, edited by an eighteen-year old. Just turned eighteen-year old. His submission included more swearing and was, again, shockingly well received by the students, highly praised by the professor. My own first submission to the Creative Writing class is long gone, long and purposefully forgotten. No, not completely. “Rivulets, streams in the sand, saline flows, returning to Mother…”