The Rest of a Friday Night, from “Swamis”

This is the continuation of the last story posted. I had already moved it from the “Swamis” manuscript to the “Sideslipping” file, mostly for space. I really enjoy including the little side stories, dramas with characters not necessary for the plot. BUT, I can’t include them all. This outtake makes more sense if you read the last one, of course.

While searching for an image of late 1960 high school students cruising or hanging out, I did find this shot.

NOT EVEN IRONIC

“We’re going to, um, kind of… hang out,” Phillip said, he and Ray each with a girl next to them, all of them buzzing with that spinning, churning, barely controlled (at best) teenage electricity.

“Guess I’m not stayin’ over,” Billy B said, pretty much to me.  “What’re we going to do, Jody?”  

It’s not even ironic that Billy B and I got rides to our respective homes in Grant’s car, me in the front seat, riding ‘bitch’ (this pointed out to me by Grant with a, “Yeah, you can ride with me, if you don’t mind ridin’ bitch”).  Bigger Billy was riding shotgun, Billy B over the driveline in the back seat, also, evidently riding bitch.

“We went looking for girls… and fights, in the home bleachers,” Bigger Billy said, beer breath directly in my face.

“Shut up, man.”  That was from one or both of the two other guys in the back seat (may have been Mark and another one of the Billys, can’t say for certain), one of them adding, “Bigger Billy G paid for the beer” as a sort of explanation as to why he was there at all.

“We threw empty bottles out the windows on the way back, Jody.  Yeah!”

One of the backseat revelers said, “Could you please shut the fuck up?”

“Hey, Dickwad DeFreines,” Grant said as we turned off Mission, “Mr. Dewey’s soooo freaked out. What’da’ya think he’ll… do?   I mean; he knows my parents.”

“No, he’s… wait; he knows your father and (emphasis on the ‘and’) your mother?”

This drew some appreciative ‘ewwws’ from the backseat, and a “Fuck you” from Grant.

“You pissed in the parking lot,” I said to Bigger Billy G when he got out to let me out at the head of my driveway.

“Oh, yeah,” he said, “I did.”  When the three other doors opened, Bigger Billy G took another piss just in front of the front passenger door.  “Beer,” he said as Grant urinated in front of the driver’s side door.  I walked past the newly planted orange trees as the other guys looked around for a proper place to whiz. 

When a yard light up by the house suddenly turned on, the group scattered.  Billy G pushed Billy B aside, jumped into the shotgun position, but Billy B stuffed himself onto the seat, forcing the other Billy over.  “Who’s the bitch now?” he asked, an arm out past the other front seat Billy and out the window, three hands flipping me off as they peeled away, Grant tapping on the horn.  Shave and a haircut…

…Two bits.

SO, I KEEP HEARING RUMORS of waves. I had to run to a hardware store for a mop in a tipped-over-plant painting emergency, guy ahead of me (and most of us are difficult to recognize in masks- not me, evidently) turned and asked if I’d “been out lately.” “Not… lately lately. Recently.” “Oh, it’s been pumping.” “Oh? How do you know?” “I’ve been out… there.” “Where?” This is when he gets (properly) cagey. “Um, you know, the ocean.” “Yeah, I’ve heard of it, but, um, uh, who are you? Masks, you know.” “Yeah; I’m James.” He did give me his last name, which I’ve forgotten, said he and I have surfed together and that he’s a friend of Stephen Davis. “Haven’t seen him around lately.” “Oh, he’s been in Hawaii… for a while.” Surfing, somewhere, you know, in the ocean.

YES, I DID PROMISE to write about Adam Wipeout’s epic wipeout, but, since he told me he was cutting back on surfing to spend more time with his kids, and then went to the mountains with them for, like four or five days (and there’s some connection with Yodeling Dan here, some reciprocation for taking Yodeling Dan to semi-secret surf locations), and then, the very next day, he’s out searching for waves. THIS AFTER I told him I’m backing off on surf searching until I actually finish the final (before trying to sell it) draft of “Swamis.” AND THEN, AND ALSO, Little Reggie Smart, who also said he was cutting back, did complete four days in a row in which he found waves, each time taunting me with, “You would have loved it, Dude,” a line he has borrowed from other surf friends of mine.

SO, PROMISES. I will be sneaking into a surf spot soon; sooner if, as others have, I back out… hey, it wasn’t really like a real promise; if I just think of it as a resolution… I mean, who has enough resolve to not surf?

Bad Boy Fun/Adventure

These are some dudes waiting for a Civil Right march in Selma, Alabama in the 1960s rather than dudes waiting for the return of the rooter bus at Fallbrook High in 1968, but, yeah, the behavior does seem kinda familiar. And, dicks being dicks, I can’t help wondering if the other dicks gave the dick with the hip thrust shit about his, you know, dick. Of course they did.

I have known for a while that I would have to cut this chapter from my novel, “Swamis.” It doesn’t move the ever-tighter, ever more focused plot along enough, Grant Murdoch is not an important enough character to be given this much, um, attention; AND, despite cutting somewhere around 70,000 words, the manuscript keeps creeping up and over my self-set limit of 120,000 words.

SO, to put you in the place where I tried to make this fit; Joey is talked into going out drinking with his friends, then hanging out at the high school. Rusty McAndrews, mentioned here, is more of a critical character. Part of my original reasoning for including this was that it helps to illustrate that Joey, aka Jody, still has an ability to quickly and violently strike out when he feels threatened.

THE BASIS for the story is one that I did not witness, merely heard about; a guy who would pretend to have an epileptic seizure; roll around… the whole show. That I found that shocking (and that others I’ve mentioned it to aren’t nearly as disturbed) says… hey, I don’t know what it says.

I should restate that my real life friends, some of whom (Ray and Phillip in particular) have characters named after them, actually did very few of the things their namesakes do in “Swamis.” They did, however, do some. Erwin is also a character, mostly so readers don’t think I am Jody. However it is true that the real Phillip and Ray and Erwin, maybe Bill Buel, did get skateboarding shut down at Fallbrook High, or, at least, we take credit for it. Oh, and the urine stream, Bill Birt. I have written about him in realsurfers.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11, 1968

Not cutting this chapter must be defended.  I would rather not do either.

It was kind of a deal during football season, a bad-boy tradition, evidently.  Some of my friends would tell their parents they were taking the rooter bus to an away game, go somewhere and drink some beer, smoke some marijuana; and return to Fallbrook High when the bus returned.  See who went, see who won.  Fun.  Bad-boy adventure.

Fun while trying to attain that exact level of intoxication where your contemporaries would recognize it, but the teachers and chaperones, grownups, wouldn’t.  Or that was how the evening had been sold to me.  Fun.  I was pretty-much sober; a bit pissed-off and quite uncomfortable, the irritability from an incident at their drinking/lookout spot, the discomfort because this wasn’t my kind of scene.  

We’d arrived at the school a bit too early, Phillip and Ray and Billy B (one of the Billys) and I were leaning on or walking around Ray’s car; parked, parallel to the street, lights on and engine running, doors open, on the asphalt parking lot that sloped down from the school to the road in front of the cafeteria/gym.  Music was coming from his tape deck.  Cream.  “White Room,” from “Wheels of Fire,” Ray’s pick for a perfect song.  Some parents, there to pick up their kids, had waited long enough that they’d turn off their engines. 

“Maybe it went into overtime,” Ray said.

“Orange Glen,” Billy B said; “Fuck, man, we could have gone there and back by now.”

“No.  No.  We’d have missed the fun.”  Phillip looked at me, punched his left palm with his right hand, “Joey punching out Rusty fucking McAndrews.”

Ray and Billy B looked at me.  I wasn’t amused.  They were.  “I should have taken the Falcon.  Escape vehicle.”

Billy B jumped between Ray and me and made a couple of hodad/kook surf moves.  “We have to get going early enough tomorrow to beat the weekend crowds, huh Ray?”  No response.  He looked at me. “Huh, Joey?”   When I didn’t respond, he jumped over next to Phillip.  “Huh, Phil?”

“Yeah, Billy B, early.”

Billy B came a bit too close to me.  “I was going to stay over at Phil’s, but, hey, let’s just get our boards and shit and fuckin’ head out after the bus comes back.  Sleep on the beach and…”

“Nope.  And, please quit breathing on me.  Huh?”

Ray pushed Billy B away from me.  “We’ll get you home, Joey.  Jeez; you’ll be a fucking hero once word gets out about…”  Ray did a fake punch toward my chest, backed away quickly, one hand protecting his face, the other his chest.  Phillip and Billy B laughed.   My friends’ faces were still glowing, as if the beer added a certain piss-orange color to their cheeks, and they were all still a bit unsteady.  “McAndrews; never liked him… or his younger brother.”

“And, wait… his brother…”  Now Phillip was too close to me.  “Is he the guy you slammed into the…?”

“Water fountain,” Ray said.  “Yeah.  Yeah, he was.  Sixth grade.  It was, like, my second week in Fallbrook and Joey’s knocking people’s teeth out.  Whoa.  Pretty scary!”

“There’s the first bus,” I said.  We could see the lights; headlights, interior lights; unmistakably two buses, across the lower fields, over on the highway.  Highway? I never thought of it as more than a road.  Two lane road heading west, toward the ocean.  

Though the road was probably three hundred yards away, it was close enough that we could hear honking.  Suddenly a car raced around both buses, pulled back in, very close to a car coming from the opposite direction.  More horns, this time including a long blaring honk from the lead bus, and a ‘shave and a haircut… two bits’ series of honks from the car, now slowing down considerably, leading the busses.

Billy B said, “Whoa!”   Phillip said, “Fucking idiots.”  Ray said, “Grant Murdoch.  For sure.”

It was a minute or so before Grant Murdoch’s mother’s car came into view around the school buildings, tires squealing, then squeaking as it turned from the rougher road to the slicker parking area, horn honking.  

That parking lot, with its shallow drop toward the gym, and the sidewalks around the school buildings, were perfect for skateboarding if it had been allowed. it wasn’t formally disallowed until Phillip, Ray, Erwin, and I slalomed on the sidewalks one hot afternoon, August 1967- busted by some summer school substitute teacher.

The overlarge American four-door circled the four of us, backed up against Ray’s car; all four of its occupants flipping us off.  The car was parked, slightly uphill of us, parallel to the approach road, cigarette smoke coming out of the open windows, music louder than Ray’s 4 track, engine revving.  The Doors; “Summer’s Almost Gone,” as I remember, from “Waiting for the Sun.”

Reasonable; sure; we were still huge Doors fans; self-disenfranchised suburban teenage males.

And, sure, we knew these particular idiots.  This was their version of a Friday night adventure.  They had gone to the game at Orange Glen, looked for a fight on the bleachers, threw empty bottles out the windows on the highways and roads between Valley Center and Fallbrook.  Fun.

One of the idiots, another of the Billys, Billy G, sometimes referred to as Bigger Billy, jumped out of the backseat, uphill side, leaned in toward the car in the area between the opened door and the trunk area.

“Urine,” Ray said, as a stream came from under the car and down the asphalt.

“Billy fucking G,” Billy B said, laughing and pointing, “He’s fuckin’ pissing.”  His voice got louder.  “Go, Bigger Billy!  Shit; that’s a quart, at least.”

To help with any Billy confusion, Billy B-2, mentioned earlier, had, by this time, moved away; his father transferred to Twenty-nine Palms.

“Here’s the bus,” Phillip said, waving at a girl about halfway back on the still-moving vehicle, her arm out a window, more pointing than waving, pointing at something past Phillip, past us.

Seconds later, more students were pointing.

It was Grant.  Grant Murdoch.  He had fallen out of the driver’s door and onto the pavement (just out of the urine stream), and was convulsing, rolling around, his body spasming.  His compatriots were gathering around him, turning to the advancing parents, appealing for help, as the second bus arrived, with the team; and kids and chaperones and teachers from the buses started unloading.

Billy B seemed concerned, ran toward Grant.  Phillip and Ray looked at me.  “Fucking Grant,” Ray said, putting out an arm to try to stop me from walking toward the big car.

Phillip said, “Not worth it, Joey; don’t…”

Members of the Big Car Idiot Crew, each of the three near Grant, and then Billy B, were yelling; “Help him, help him!”  “He’ll swallow his tongue!”  “Oh, my God!”

Grant had just been flipped onto his back when I got to him, foamy spittle coming out of his mouth, eyes fluttering.  I stood over him for a second before I put my foot on his throat.

“Good evening, Grant,” I said, calmly.  Sort of calmly. 

A grownup grabbed me by one arm, another on the other arm, pulled me back. 

I resisted.  “What?  What!”

“What the hell do you mean, ‘what?’”  It was Martha Dewey’s dad on my right arm.  “You think because of your father you can get away with this… this… (lowering his voice) shit.”

“Please let me go, Mr. Dewey,” I said.  I thought it more a demand than a request.  “Sir.”

Grant Murdoch rolled to his side, then to his stomach, and leapt to his feet with amazing speed.

“What?”  That was Mr. Dewey, still holding my arm after the other grownup had let go.

“I didn’t know you were here, Jody,” Grant said, trying to wipe the spittle off his chin with two other dads holding him, more in a supportive way, before he shook himself loose.  “Sorry, man.  Just for fun, you know.”

While some parents were pulling their children away from this scene, Mrs. Dewey and Martha were among a group headed our way.  I looked at Mr. Dewey, his hand still on my arm.  I gave him a look that I meant as a reference to the alcohol on his breath, made a motion to suggest he should look at the lipstick on the collar of his white dress shirt.

I believed he got the messages.  He looked at his wife and daughter, approaching, then at me.  He released his grip, stepped between Grant and me, started to say something to Grant; something like, “You’ve got some nerve, young man…”

Grant Murdoch threw up.  Some beer, maybe some pizza, God knows what else. Most of what Grant threw up got on Mr. Dewey.

There were brief cheers from some of the nearby high school boys, bolder cheers from a couple of the out-of-high school guys who hadn’t yet found another place to hang out on a Friday night. 

“You got Lucky, Mr. Dewey,” I said, smiling at my own cleverness; all the more clever in that Mr. Dewey completely understood it.  “Martha.  Mrs. Dewey,” I said to Martha and Mrs. Dewey as I passed them.

Adventure.  Fun.  Friday nights.

What Thought has to do with It

I’ve spent too much time on Youtube lately, what with the big ass swell hitting Hawaii, and now California; and with at least one part of the latest national nightmare closer and closer to some undoubtedly (by which I mean hopefully and peacefully) anti-climatic conclusion; guy loses, won’t concede, wants a military sendoff after coup failed, sneaks out of town at dawn… yeah, yeah, yeah; feels like we saw that one already, seems derivative. And, though we try to forget it, there’s the ongoing omni-demic, can’t count fast enough to keep up with the cases and deaths. One, one thousand, two, two thousand, three, three thousand…

If I could just concentrate on surf videos, raw footage from Big Rock and Waimea Bay and Jaws and Mavericks, I would. And I can, for a while, before my mind wanders. And Youtube offers such delightful options: Politics from whatever side you’d consider risking your life to support; exposes on pretty much anything, new folks grabbing video and hoping to build enough followers to, maybe, make a living. Not sure how many that would take, but… wait, I’m still waiting for a list of who is getting pardoned, who might get executed in the final push; and I’m just not all that patient.

For God’s sake, it’s almost 9:30 pm, eastern time, and the outgoing president has to be at the airport at dawn. So, yes, still some suspense in what someone must have imagined as an ultimate reality show. Waiting.

Thinking. Okay, so, because I have some history of checking out things other than “If I drive ten miles with the emergency brake on, will I have any brakes when it all cools down?” and “How to replace brake pads,” I sometimes get things related to Bob Dylan. And so it was that I got onto a little video with Dylan and Joan Baez. Trish and I have seen both of them in concert, though not together, and I have followed their… okay, I might be enough of a romantic to believe they could have been happy together.

So, here’s the scene: Bob says Joan went off and got married. Joan says Bob got married first, without telling her, and he could have told her. Bob hims and hahs and says yeah, but he got married to someone he loved. Joan says, yeah, and she married someone she thought she loved. Then Bob, after sufficient pauses, says, “See, that’s what thought has to do with it.” Pause. “Thought will FUCK you up.”

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan from Rolling Thunder tour. Photo from Vanity Fair

And it will, and it can; and it does.

Or maybe I just imagine that there’s such a thing as blissful ignorance.

Wait, here’s an admission: Because I have stated, publicly, my belief that any and all relationships between two people are fragile, tentative, and have the distinct possibility of ending at any given moment, I didn’t actually consider that the relationship between these two, on and off and on and off again; that whatever level of understanding and appreciation of each other, of love for each other they have now; that might be about as good a relationship, over time one can hope to have with another human being.

I won’t admit to being a romantic, hopeless or otherwise, but I do plead the fifth on thinking too much. “Thought will FUCK you up.”

Incidentally, quick mention of “Swamis,” my ever more polished, still too long and too complicated novel; there may be a bit of an underlying romantic-ness in there.

NEXT TIME, I swear, I will write about ADAM WIPEOUT’S big wipeout. I have never spent so much time discussing one wave in my lifetime of talking surf story; and, I promise, I will spend some more, including (note the suspense) a guest visit by BIG DAVE.

Of course, first we have to get through tomorrow. I

UPDATE – It seems like the slimiest and least surprising pardon traded was for the slime ball who collected money from maga folks and kept a cool million or so to work on his tan. Who loves ya’ baby? OH, can’t help mentioning that, while the helicopter was lifting off, “I did it my way” was playing.

“Outside in the distance, a wildcat did growl, two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.”

Nothing, Nothing, Nothing

This image has little or nothing to do with whatever else I wrote

I Dreamed I Was Sleeping

In the dream, of course, I was awake, and yet dreaming I was sleeping, 

If not sleeping, waiting,

Some unmeasured length of time; weightless, waiting,

Sidestroke glide, close to shore,

Flutter kick, one arm still, one back then pointing, forward,

Sidestroke, sideshore,

Beach, bluff, streetlights,

Outline to the Sky,

Sky,

That further ocean.

Gliding silent inside a globe,

A lens of sorts, crystal, foggy on the edges,

Like condensation on a windshield,

And I’m not waiting for the clearing.

Gliding forward, silent, thinking,

“Nothing, nothing, nothing.”

And there is nothing; all the thoughts kept out,

Contemplation,

The chaos and the chatter and confusion,

Outside the lens, outside the globe,

Still there are lights too bright to block,

These I see too clearly.

“Nothing, nothing, nothing.”

And then, suddenly it seemed, I awoke.

But, perhaps, I was awakened.

Something…

I was waiting for Trish to get home from shopping/visiting with our daughter, Dru; and, because my body tells me to sleep at around ten pm, Pacific Standard Time, and because Trish, when I called her, said it would be later, I went to sleep. Then I woke up. Then, knowing there would be a phone call to tell me Trish would be home in somewhere around thirty minutes, I had a bit of trouble going back to sleep. I know I had to have been asleep, but it seemed interesting, even amusing, to me that I was dreaming I was trying to get to sleep.

Please forgive me for going anywhere near poetryland; but, on the other hand, take that, Daniel.

SURFWISE: It seems like the northeast Pacific is generating surf for everywhere else. Hopefully you can pick up a little corner somewhere. Good luck.

A Few Fantasy Island Fotos

Former Olympic Peninsula ripper Stephen R. Davis is Big Island-ing it; not sure if he’ll come back to the 4-3 mil-demanding waters of the Strait and the Northeast Pacific; or why he would. With all the political drama and with the omni-depressing omnipresent Covid continuing, hey, how about a few snaps from warm water?

I think this is actually Maui, but, hey, look at the guy just throwing a hula halo for, not sure, just because he’s stoked.
So, yeah; pretty, but wait, there’s someone airing it out! Ow!! It’s Makena, formerly of Port Townsend, named after a mountain (yeah, I asked, figured it was, like, McKinna. Nope) climbing on some sort of updraft.

Steve did send me another shot of him, but, for some reason I couldn’t upload it, so, imagine the next move after this one, climbing back into the hook, sliding on down the line. Thanks, Steve; I’ll be thinking of you when I crank up the generator the next time the power goes out.

Ten Days into a New Year and…

Things are pretty groovy.

Okay, they aren’t, but there are some bright spots if you look hard enough. I am trying really hard to be optimistic, difficult as that is. Balance. So, let’s say you’re a standup paddleboarder; you have already learned that staying upright and balanced sometimes requires not looking at your flailing arms and legs, but maintaining a focus on the horizon. Similarly, driving a car smoothly requires… no, this isn’t really helping. I have checked the Microsoft News dealie on my computer; Trump’s still hunkered in his bunker unless he’s golfing (I’m sure there’s a ‘where’s the Prez now’ phone app available) or strategizing on how to achieve world peace as just a bit more glitter on his legacy; and I’m actually dying to turn on the TV to get the latest fake news (having eliminated the fair and balanced type from my options, though we kept the ‘yule log’ channel); and I definitely am not tempted to check out the NFL channel or any other wildcard games, this to avoid any excuses for or explanations of the Seahawks loss yesterday; and I’m even avoiding checking the buoy readings from Tofino to Westport (again, or my usual 10-20 times per day- I do have buoys on my phone- not looking good Strait-wise); all of this in a pursuit of avoiding personal panic.

So, I was buoyed (no, I don’t consider this, like, really clever) when Stephen R. Davis, over on Fantasy Island, sent me a photo with the heading, “Storming the Capitol.” Since I have promised to try, to really try not to get all political and to concentrate of real surfers surfing (oh, and I am thankful that a very high percentage of surfers consider ourselves liberal), I let Steve know that I would put the photo on realsurfers.net

Stephen R. Davis contemplates his next move, bottom-turning into a one foot wave, Hawaiian, shoulder-high NW Strait scale

I have also made a self-commitment to complete my endless tweaking and polishing of my novel, “SWAMIS” sooner rather than later. I have invested a considerable amount of time and energy in this work. While I originally thought of “Swamis” as a one book thing, even the side stories I have cut, the verbal images I have cropped, the characters I have not fully rendered have convinced me there is more I want to say. Oh, there always is.

Horizons. We don’t need blinders, we need focus.

To blatantly steal something from Drew Kampion, “Life is a wave…” As Steve is doing, above, “Lean into it.”

UPDATE: I couldn’t do it. After a text from Keith and a call from Adam Wipeout, I had to check the buoys, and then, yeah got updated on football and politics. Sad. Politics, sadder. AND, then I got two new photos from my Hawaiian connection, Stephen R. Davis. SO, check back when you can, OH, and I do have to say something about Adam’s recent world class overthefalls wipeout, a non ride that has already taken up more conversation time than any ride ever… ever. And I’m evidently not done.

A Shaka for You

I am guessing the Junior Senator on the left, below, who gave the mob a weak power sign might not be so sure what gesture he should give to the Police Officer killed with blows to the head from a fire extinguisher. Um, uh, something that suggests sympathy? Some sort of signal of remorse? Nah; in the cynical and self-serving world where lies are perpetuated and citizens with benign intentions are pushed forward and used as cover by the criminal leaders of a insurrection and… I swear, I would love to just say ‘fuck it, saner heads will prevail.’ I would love to believe that. But, a couple of things: Is that Ivy Leaguer who despite, supposedly, giving his educational background, knew full well the grounds for overturning the will of the voters was unconstitutional and yet insisted on holding up the certification for an additional five hours, this after our elected representatives showed an incredible amount of courage by coming back into session after the military style assault on Congress; is this dude giving himself a shaka? And the other dude; the guy who said he’d be with the marchers (who are, to him, special, and loved) then went to his gilded bunker and, allegedly, enjoyed the show on TV; does that make him a coward as well as a liar?

See the source image

Somehow, with, evidently (evidently as in there is evidence to back this up) some of the loved and special people who stormed the Capitol had a plan to hang (or otherwise execute, as in kill) the Vice President of the United States of America for not going outside his role as specified (as in clearly spelled out, not open to vague interpretation) by not certifying the will of the American People, more than seven million more of whom did not vote for the incumbent; somehow, in all of this, Mike Pence did show courage, did behave in a heroic way.

AGAIN, I want to get beyond this. BECAUSE I listen as well as talk, I pick up on things. We’ve had some pretty shitty weather lately. I mentioned how depressing this can be to a floor guy on a job. “For some people,” he said, “depression is a step up.” I was a bit shocked. Maybe desperation is a floor down, with only surrender below that. I understand desperation, and I know, right now, it is widespread. I am thankful that I have been lucky enough to keep working, to keep going, and I try to have faith that I can continue to do so. I told the guy that I have a tough time holding on to depression; I tend to talk my way out of it, to an extent, dropping back to my belief that there’s a story going on that we aren’t writing; that we’re not even minor characters in; the example I gave him is this: Who could have scripted that the political control of the US Senate could come down to two recount votes in Georgia?

THERE IS a painter in the town I have lived in for over forty years, another town in rural America with limited opportunities; and, over the years, good times and bad, whenever he and I have run into each other, he always ends the conversation with “Hang in there.” It is a verbal shaka, a term of encouragement.

Hang in there.

Binge-Watching History

I kind of think, when Trump said he’d be marching with you, his beloved fans, his base, and people so enthralled you are probably contributors to his continued campaign; you believed him. Then you and he would walk, hand-in-hand, Trump flags flying, down Pennsylvania Avenue to stop the steal of… whatever it is he’s convinced you was ruthlessly ripped away from him and his gang/clan. Instead, the Prez slipped out the back, stumbled (because of the bone spurs, as you remember, poor guy) got in his armored car, picked up his McDonalds order, and cruised on down to his gold-plated bunker deep under the White House. Meanwhile all ya’ll, busily taking selfies with cops and listening to the mob leaders on their megaphones, recognizable because of their really cool outfits, decided it would be something else to tell the folks back home if you accepted their invitation to go up the stairs of the Capitol Building, then inside, and, wait… after they cart out the woman who got shot, you’re suddenly inside the Senate chambers; and, whoa, all the Senators and folks are gone. What? Are they scared of fellow Americans?

Yeehaw!

Now, somewhere in the next few hours, kinda not knowing what to do but take more selfies, you no doubt, expected Don to drop in, using only one hand, on a line from Marine One, his massive chest muscles flexed, a Bible in the other hand, and a look of confidence bordering on righteousness on his face.

a close up of an old building: A protester is seen hanging from the balcony in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. Win McNamee/Getty Images
Not waiting for the second coming of Trump, figure I’ll drop in to the Senate… photo from Washington Post. Thanks

Meanwhile, and I am not trying to say that I, in any way understand the thinking of anyone who actually believes any fucking thing our outgoing Huckster-in-chief says (not like outgoing in a friendly sense- outgoing as in out the door), but it has been noted, and noticed, that the police response to the rioters was not particularly ‘strident.’ I have, in fact, been subjected to a harsher push back after a Jethro Tull concert, not to mention getting kicked off the beach twice- way rougher. Now the Jethro Tull thing was particularly troubling and irritating because I had paid good money for the tickets. OH, you do understand that. One explanation/excuse for the softball initial response was that a big military style putdown, the kind that’s saved for Black Lives Matter marches and people who are in the way when Donny wants a photo op, is that getting harsh with overweight white people might create a martyr or two… so politely escorting folks to safety was the tactic de jour. After all, a majority of the mob members looked like people one might see at the local grocery store.

Then again, things could have gotten way more deadly than they did.

Yeah, well; since I’ve been unable to move too far from the TV, switching channels occasionally, binge-watching a sad but historic day, and reminding anyone reading that I would much rather write about real surfers actually surfing, let me say this: I feel sorry for people who are, forever, insurrectionists, part of a failed coup attempt by a loser. That, in itself, doesn’t mean you’re a loser. Go ahead, think you’re real Americans. Trump loves you. I heard him say so before he got deleted on Facebook and Twitter, not that I’d follow him there… or anywhere.

Incidentally, do you know how to tell when Trumpo (Aussie style nickname) is lying?

No, didn’t think so.

Unfortunately, what some might think is backlash is the status quo ’round these parts. Good luck.

Last Wave of (and at) 2020

There’s always that one last wave, the one you’ll ride as close to the shore as you can get. It’s only fitting that my last one was on the last day of what, if you’ll forgive the foul language, was a fucked up year, a real (please fill in your own adjectives, I just got a bit more depressed and pissed-off considering my options) doozy of a year. PLAGUE YEAR- During which we discovered each of us is a potential threat to anyone we come into contact with, or are even in the same room with. CULTURE WARS- During which the divisions in our population became increasingly clear, with or without bumper stickers and big-ass flags and FoxNews Addicts identifying anyone more intelligent that they are as Elitists. POLITICAL YEAR in which the cruelty of the power elite has only been matched by its cynicism and cowardice. FISCAL YEAR (yes, I know it’s not a complete match)- During which the stock market went up and the jobs dried up.

See the source image

Wave image taken from Google or Bing; not an exact match to any local waves

NOW, on the political side, here’s an image I can’t quite shake. Imagine Mitch McConnell. Okay, now imagine him supposedly throwing desperate and drowning AMERICANS a lifeline that is just not quite long enough. Yes, he’s got that gleeful smirk/smile any politician representing one of the poorest, per capita, states in the Union might have when he’s claiming a two thousand dollar stimulus check might just accidently go to someone who doesn’t really need it. Possible caption: “Come on now, just jump for it.”

To be clear; I don’t believe McConnell to be cowardly; a cruel and cynical power broker who, I hope, makes no claim to being a Christian (anywhere on the radical spectrum of claimants), hell yeah.

I DO APOLOGIZE, to those who believe you aren’t, for getting political. I will try not to get too religious EXCEPT to say that I have come to interpret that commandment about not using God’s name in vain as meaning we mortals (sure, you could also put an asterisk on this) don’t have a right to give commands to whatever God is (and, since none of us really know, I would be considered liberal or blasphemous on this, considering how cock sure you are). I do believe it’s acceptable to make requests. As such, and realizing we are all hypocrites in some way, we are all infidels to someone, we are all sinners (if sinning means breaking some part of your own code), and many of us have been taught that there is some sort of overriding and final judgment and that vengeance is not ours; I do have a few requests in the disabling-if-not-damning category.

SO, GOOD FUCKING BYE to 2020; I do have some optimism for 2021; but heading into it is like, if I can compare it to my last surf session, yesterday, in which I took off before dawn, knowing the recent rains and tides and other factors have altered (and not for the better) my favorite reef; and then, heading up Surf Route 101, checking the buoy readings, discovering the swell has moved too south for anything to work on the Strait; then discovering a long chunk of 112 is closed due to the usual landslides; and, with the surf always fickle, rarely matching the forecast (unless it’s for flatness and unfavorable winds), and… and I kept going.

It worked out. Kind of. We adapt. We hope. Maybe the tides and the rivers and the waves will push the gravel and the rocks, reshaped and reformed into a different reef, one that turns chaos into a peak and a running shoulder. Change is constant. Keep going.

TWO LAST THINGS: One, two thousand dollars is ‘walking around money’ for some, desperately needed for many. If you don’t understand true desperation, ‘lucky you.’ Two, since, all of us being masked and dangerous has allowed the true dickheads to be much more open about it. As such, I have made it my first NEW YEAR’S resolution ever, to be as nice as I can bring myself to being in public (properly distanced) situations. EXAMPLE- Getting gas at Costco, I told the guy gassing up his big-ass SUV with those big-ass rims that those kind of rigs always remind me of covered wagons. Negative response. I turned to see some other dickhead had just said something rude to the attendant. I said something nice. No, actually I said that some people are just dickheads. Then I said something nice, like, Happy New Year. “Thanks, man” was his response. Then, just to prove that I (well known for being a wave hog) am a hypocrite, I had a chance to share the three bucks in my wallet with a couple at the stoplight (sign, dog, both smoking). I didn’t. Might have been the smoking part. Still, dickhead inaction.

“Surf’s Up,” Dylan, Led Zep- another outtake from “Swamis”

I’m still polishing the manuscript for my novel, “Swamis.” A lot of what I am doing is trying to cut out pages, lines, even words that don’t progress the story. The story.

THE STORY has changed considerably since I started the project. THE TRUTH is that this project, realsurfers, was an attempt to tell the larger story of surfing in a particular time, the late 1960s, Southern California; the draft, Vietnam, various revolutions in music, surfboard design, human rights; there’s a lot to cover. NOW I have a story and I’m trying to make all the parts, all the characters and plot twists seem REAL.

I don’t want to post pages that I cut because I rewrote them, improved upon what I am offering you. Rather, I will only post outtakes because they no longer fit in the trimmed-down, story driven manuscript. ACTUALLY, there are still sidetrips I will not be able to cut.

In rereading this passage, I do have to admit that it’s Joseph DeFreines channeling me. The fiction part is that his father was a cop, killed in a mystery among mysteries. SO:

Sure. Surfing is sexy, coolness illustrated; pirate/rebels washed clean.

Coolness, hipness; we adapt our lives, change our speech patterns, make different choices in clothing and music and attitude as we discover new, and, if not better, more modern things, newer new things; trends, fashions.

The very word, fashion, describes its temporary nature.  Subtext.  That fashion goes in and out is given to the user of the word for free.

We steal, borrow, incorporate.  The strands are pretty obvious; like blues to jazz, blues to rock and roll, blues coopted by popular AM music.  If you were born in the 1950s, you heard Sinatra and Chuck Berry on the same AM station; experienced the Beatles, then Dylan.  No, you probably got Dylan through Dylan covers, Peter Paul and Mary, the Byrds; then Dylan, then… whatever was fashionable.  Temporary.

THE REAL DYLAN

We, my Fallbrook contemporaries, suburban teenage males, isolated from the big cities, behind the times; we were Doors fans.  Of course.  My friends bought the albums.  Garage bands played extended versions of ‘Light My Fire’ at sock hops and VFW dances.  When tape players came out, some of my friends had them installed in the cars their parents handed down to them.  Or bought for them.  Four trac, then 8; Three Dog Night and Jimi Hendrix.

Somehow, I held on to the songs from the 78s my parents owned, surprisingly varied, with jazz, husband and wife duos, black torch singers, Nat King Cole.  I remembered tunes from musicals in my mom’s LP stash, “Oklahoma” and “South Pacific.”  They had LPs, 33 1/3rd, Johnny Mathis and The Everly Brothers.  I didn’t want doo wop or bubblegum pop, I wanted to hear the real Dylan.  Dylan was in the magazines, angry young man, voice of a generation; why wasn’t he on the radio?

Dylan was certainly not on KCPQ, the station my friends in Junior High went on about.  KCPQ advertised pimple cream and played Beatle songs for portable radios, songs sung in the hallways by hormone-strained voices, guys suddenly affecting English accents.  There were sanitized versions of Dylan; but no Dylan.  I didn’t want more Chad and Jeremy, more Herman’s Hermits.

Someone dropped a clue, something heard by overhearing an older brother.  There was a station from San Diego, KPRI, FM (for god’s sake), that played whole albums; radical, underground music.  I could barely get it, but I tried, over in the corner of my bedroom, while I studied, wrote; edited and typed-up other people’s term papers (for a fee); another detached, isolated, suburban (almost rural, really) teenager.

KPRI, as close to tuned in as I could get it, still had that grainy, scratchy, ringing-in-the-ear background.  I tried.  I persisted.  I listened.  That it was difficult to tune into made it better.  Way better.  FM, for god’s sake.

SURF’S UP

Channel 9, from Santa Barbara, was a similar, hard-to-tune-in mystery.  With Ray on the roof moving the antenna, Phillip at the window, and me at the TV set, we tried to get “Surf’s Up.”  It was listed in the Fallbrook-specific TV Guide; and, at best, we almost saw, or barely saw, some footage of Trestles, a legendary break, peeling.  The only audio we could hear was, “peeling like a washing machine.”

That barely-there-ness only added to the appropriateness.  “Peeling like a washing machine” became, briefly, our phrase for a perfect wave on an imperfect day.  Rare, peeling…

“We’re going,” the slow-speaking voice (opposite of am radio) of a possibly-stoned KPRI disc jockey would say, “to go in the back room and get our heads together (background chuckles); so, here’s Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding.”  Sound of inhalation, extended version.

Appropriate.  Black-and-white, scratchy-grainy TV, whispered songs with tinnitus backgrounds.

When I got my first tape player, 4 plus 4, capable of playing four and eight trac tapes; and stolen, as previously mentioned, traded for fifteen bucks and some homemade sandwiches (and a promise for more) in the school parking lot, installed (rather, wired) by a guy (can’t remember his name) who told me I, my dad being an asshole and a cop and all, should have known it was stolen.   I bought some on-sale tapes at the Buy-and-Save market: Laura Nyro, Leonard Cohen, “Aerial Ballet” by Harry Nilsson.

“What’s that shit?” One of my friends would ask.

“Good music,” I would say.

Yeah, I had some Doors, Hendrix; often wondered if I really liked them more than the Moody Blues. When Led Zeppelin came out, I just avoided it.  Or tried.  Orgasmic rock.  All these years later, KPRI is probably sports or talk or playing new age country/western, and there is no classic or hardrock station that can go an hour without playing something from Led Zep.

Orgasmic rock I called it.  Hated Led Zeppelin, but I still know most of their songs.

Somewhere in those years, I lost my California coastal accent.  Or, maybe I just thought I had.  It comes back sometimes.   “Oh, I see; you don’t like a-vo-caaa-do.”