This piece insn’t necessarily surf-centric. I wrote it for my blog, “Stuff That Goes On,” at the ptleader.com. I’ve been featuring some of my cartoons, after they’ve been rejected by “The New Yorker.” Here’s the one that goes with, kind of, the story:
One of my favorite surfing spots is Swamis, Encinitas, California. It is so named because of the gold tulips adorning the high white walls around the adjacent compound. Founded by followers of Swami… sorry, I really don’t want to get into more of the history than that which impacted me. Again, sorry. The compound was a sort of mysterious place for surfers, and what was known back in the middle 60s, when I started (board) surfing [at least three stairways ago, when the parking lot was smaller, the bathroom was of the pit variety], was that people inside spent a lot of time on their gardens. And meditating.
Trancendental meditation. Groovy. Maybe it played into the rapidly changing surfer self image as the end of the 60s brought more of a drug culture; bearing in mind drug use was ‘mind expanding’ and ‘experimental’ at the same time. Not that I participated. I didn’t. Some surfers also, by the end of the 60s, switched gears into the Jesus ‘Freak’ mode. That was more my speed, though they had a zealousness that my (short, to be sure, I turned 18 in 1969) lifetime of attending church didn’t seem to give me.
In 1975 Trish and I had moved to a house we bought in Encinitas. Swamis was still my favorite spot, and in the time we had lived in San Diego, the secluded beach around the point and directly below a meditation garden inside the compound had become a nude beach. I discovered this, not by word of mouth, but by… hey, I was just trying to go surfing.
The nudity caused a problem with the people inside the compound. It’s evidently difficult to fully get trancendental-ized when naked people are cavorting (didn’t look it up- sure it’s accurate) below you. It eventually made the paper, it made the TV news. Meetings were called. Dennis Weaver, Chester on “Gunsmoke,” was at one, livid, leaning into the cameras to make sure the point was made that this distraction was not acceptable.
I don’t think his appearance helped, but, before Chester and the spreading of the news throughout the San Diego County area, and about a week after I discovered the nudity, I actually went to work for local (Cardiff) painting contractor “Two Coat” Charlie Barnett, on a project to paint the exterior stucco surfaces at the enclave. We had to be quiet, I was told. Okay, but first break time, two of the helpers on the crew said we should all go up to the meditation garden and ‘watch the nudies.’ “What, you know about this?” “Hey, man; everyone knows.”
One thing that struck me was that, during what was evidently a women’s retreat, meals were taken in silence. That’s fine. I mean, there was the sound, no doubt, of chewing, maybe some loud swallowing. After the meal, partially-filled and enlightened participants went back to their stucco cabins for private meditation.
Now, everything around the compound, the gardens, the paths, the concrete, was supposed to be spotless. All the attendees were dressed in white. Although Charlie had hired the aforementioned helpers to insure cleanliness, he was having trouble getting his final payment until all spots of paint were cleaned up. So, Charlie and I were crawling around the sidewalks with wire brushes and lacquer thinner, cleaning. Oh, Charlie and I were also dressed in white, as is traditional, but with spots of colors, more so on my clothes than Charlie’s.
I was just trying to get the job done, but couldn’t help but hear, around pretty much every guest cabin, the unmistakable sound of someone passing gas.
Amazing. No doubt related to trancendentalizing. On a related note, Trish claims her father, always the ideal image of propriety, would often pass gas while under the headphones, listening to phonograph records. And then there’s the almost absolute need, possibly because of the altitude, while riding in a plane… hey, this isn’t a secret. As far as whether there’s still a nude beach at Swamis; haven’t a clue.
Here’s another rejected cartoon: It’s Nietzche. I explained it in another blog post at ptleader.com Go to “Blog” at the top of the home page, click on “Stuff That Goes On.”
As far as my fear of meditation… another time.