Vivid Covid Dreams

Maybe this piece is self-explanatory. Anxiety has hit us like a, um, wave; enough so that I was just thinking, yesterday, trying, as always, not to panic (in this case I was about twenty-five feet up on a ladder stuck, improperly at a bit of a left-of-straight angle that allowed me to, hopefully, paint trim up on a roof- it worked), that maybe being manic-depressive is normal.

NORMAL. Moments of bliss are, yeah, moments; and, while most of life is just kind of a glide, maybe a bit of an uphill grind, there are moments where things would cause just about anyone to… to be rightfully depressed.

MOMENTS, only, hopefully. It’s not that I’ve been more depressed than anxious, but I have been waiting to use some of my manic-ness on some waves. SOON.

I did do a video reading of this piece, tried to send it to Keith Darrock, PT ripper and librarian. I’m scheduled to do a ZOOM thing in August, connected with my novel, “SWAMIS” and I thought this might be a sort of prelude. BUT, e-mailing videos, I’ve discovered, is actually kind of tricky.

I am considering UPGRADING MY WORDPRESS ACCOUNT. This would get rid of pesky ads (for which I receive no compensation), and might allow me to post occasional videos. WE’LL SEE.

                Not Out, Just Put Away

In these anxious times, I have heard and read that many are afraid to dream while others have wild, vivid, Corona fever dreams, even without the fever.  Last night’s dream was, then, one of those, and I am writing about it before it fades into the early morning drizzle.

Write, because that’s what I do; that’s how I cope.  Whatever trauma or drama is going on, I can and mostly do think of it as part of some bigger narrative.  If dreams are meant to make some sense out of chaos… writing is dreaming; and I write.

It is, quite obviously, some sort of party.  People in nice clothes; some women in dresses, some men in sports coats.  It is one of those large rooms with a high ceiling on one side and a loft on the other, view of the water through the two-story bank of windows, sliding doors open to a deck.  Weekend cabin, second home along the Canal.  I’ve painted many through the years.  There is a large countertop toward one end of the great room, food spread out.  Party food.  Trays- cheeses and crackers, various.  Casserole dishes- various.  Three bottles of wine with interesting labels- open, glasses adjacent.  Sparkling sodas and colas in a cooler to the side; plastic cups on a corner of the counter.  Real plates, real silverware.

So, not a potluck, but guests, as is proper, have brought side dishes, bottles of wine with interesting labels.

This dream is all taking place from my point of view (POV), my perspective.  Of course.  Dreams.  I’m on one side of the room, scraping the last of some sort of dip onto my last cracker.  Not guacamole.  It might be red, though Trish claims men don’t dream in color, and, though I’d prefer her to be wrong; she is almost surely correct.  Still, I’m saying red; and there’s enough dip left that I consider either getting more crackers or scooping it up with one side of a finger.

Manners.  Leave it.

Trish isn’t here.  No, it must be one of those events where I will almost surely do something, say something embarrassing; me with my loud voice and big gestures.  She has obviously sent our daughter, Dru, in her place.  For some reason, our friend George, who avoids potentially awkward social situations more often (and less apologetically) than Trish, is here, more leaning than sitting on the edge of an overstuffed chair.

I start to say something to Dru about how soon we can leave when two men approach me.

This is the setup part: “I hear you’re a writer,” one of them says.  He is quite a distinguished looking fellow, and the statement is made without the condescension my reaction to it might suggest.

“Who would have told you that?”

This is when Dru moves away and I’m faced with two faces, my POV moving between them.  There is some sort of writing competition they are both aware of, submission deadline this very evening, and maybe I should consider entering.  At the least, they would be interested in hearing about what I write.

Here is the analysis part: I’m writing a novel.  Yeah.  And?  And when I’d written enough to get to an actual ending, I edited it, completely, first line to ‘The End.’  Then, so excited, so sure it was the genius work of a genius; I sent it out to several people to read.

This is when someone crazy enough to consider him or herself a writer gets truly crazy.  Out of his or her control, the manuscript must face the world on its own.  Waiting.  Waiting. 

Waiting for someone else’s assessment.

You only get one chance at a first impression.  I had overshot, overthought, overdone; and, as I feared, as I probably knew, early feedback made it obvious that I need to seriously edit the work; ruthlessly cut out so many of the peripherals, clarify the changes in time and place, simplify… it became obvious my manuscript might not actually be the genius work of a genius writer.

So, okay; I’m working on it; two-thirds of the way to the end; again.  But, doctors, counselors, friends, readers; now that I have eighteen point headings for chapters, fourteen point subheadings; now that I have moved whole blocks of words to where they should be, chronologically; now that I have deleted thirteen thousand or so words out of one hundred and twenty-three thousand; the tension now, the anxiety, in addition to all the other anxieties of real life, is this: Publishing, selling, getting the novel sold, published, out there.

Out there.

I must have said something abrasive and offensive and off-putting; the distinguished gentlemen are now at the far end of the room, leaning on the wall near the stairway to the loft.  George asks a question of the woman who, evidently, owns the house.  “I invited you over many times,” she says.

“Okay,” I say, full room voice, “I have songs, and a few poems, and short stories, and a couple of screenplays, and… don’t know where the other one is… two almost complete novels; so, now what?”

They don’t seem to have heard me.   Dru walks between me and them.  She gives me a look I know to mean I didn’t handle this well, and, additionally, I have just provided another story to share with her mother.  Proof. 

Time break.  I’m looking at the food on the counter.  The casserole dishes have lids or are covered in saran wrap, contents of the two-thirds-full dishes visible.  “I never got a chance at the real food,” I say.

“They’re not out of food,” Dru says, “It’s just put away.”

The woman who spoke to George appears.  She peels back one corner on a dish.  Noodles and cheese, the cheese on the top seared perfectly, only a few holes dug into the glaze.  There also might be green beans.  I’d guess green.  The homeowner looks over at the distinguished gentlemen.  “Good thing I didn’t say anything,” she says, “my daughter’s a writer and…”

“Oh,” I ask, “What kind of thing does she write?”

Dream’s gone.  I spent time I could have used on my manuscript.  Still, I have to get ready; get to Costco before the best selection of meat is gone.

Stay safe, stay sane, avoid panicking when you can, stay tuned.

Jesus from “Swamis” and Outtake on Lawyers and Liars

Trisha’s nephew, and, I guess, mine, by marriage, DYLAN SCOTT, just graduated from UCLA law school, remotely. Congratulations, Dylan. He surfs. I only surfed with him once, years ago, La Jolla Shores. It was summer, small; the waves, in my memory, were kind of a brownish color. The Diva surf school had just left the water, meaning the water was left with still way too many surfers, some of whom (one middle-aged guy in particular) looked like they would cut your throat for a chance at a knee-high closeout.

I felt perfectly justified in blocking a few bobbers out so Dylan could get a few more rides. Then again, I’ve always been a little on the sociopathic side; might have made a good attorney.

I should add that Dylan’s brother, Carson, is in Law School, Harvard; and that their mother, Greer is a judge in the state of California; SO their being part of the mix only elevates the profession.

It might become apparent that I have some negative feelings about attorneys; I insist that this has nothing to do with Greer, Carson, or Dylan; but has been developed, over time, by the lawyers I have worked for and the one time, work related, I had to hire one. I sued; they sued, I got no compensation, they offered to drop their case if I dropped mine; my only solace was that their lawyers cost way way more than mine.

My line on the subject, “Once it gets bad enough that lawyers are involved, no one wins… except the Lawyers.”

One of my clients, not a lawyer, told me writers sometimes try to get even with past wrongs through their writing. “Not an accusation,” he insisted. ANYWAY, the “Sideslipping” outtake from “Swamis” was meant to mean a bit more when Jody (spoiler) becomes one.

“Meant to mean.” Can’t believe I just wrote that.

BUT FIRST, here’s an illustration, meant to be the graphic from the side of Portia’s ‘Jesus Saves’ bus:


Since I now have had to back-peddle to get to the meeting Jumper and I had with Dickson and Wendell, I probably should update a few other things.  Writing a book isn’t, I’m discovering, like building a case; it’s not collecting all the little incidents and data, all the witness accounts, getting all the dates right.  It’s the attorneys I was told, over and over again, by the attorneys, the attorneys who create the narrative.

I argued this, of course.  This was my line: “Oh, so who figures out the who in the whodunnit?”

Lawyers.  My mother never could pronounce the word correctly.  At her best, it sounded like ‘Wah-yers’ or ‘Liars.’  “Close enough,” my father would say.  He was from West Virginia, originally; coal country; and ‘lawyers’ always sounded like ‘liars’ when he said it.

That sounded about right to me.

There have been few attorneys I’ve ever actually liked.  I might have liked more Public Defenders than Prosecutors.  All attorneys, of course, sold their souls to even get into law school; but, while some (the ones I liked better) of the defense attorneys were loose and hip; sarcastic, with an ‘Oh, yeah; so prove it’ attitude; many of the prosecutors (the ones I hated most) were consistently sullen and sardonic (sarcasm with the underlying pain a bit obvious); and seemed to feel trapped in civil service jobs where kissing ass was (I have testimony to back this up) much more important than actual success.

The most ruthless prosecutors, I have witnessed, had, at one time, been the most idealistic defense attorneys.  The most moral-less, shameless, anything-to-win defense attorneys had been… well; they were the ones who realized they hadn’t merely whored-out their souls; they had lost them.

However, I hold my highest disdain (I should say all out hatred and disgust) for those smug and arrogant defenders of rich clients.  Sit across from one of those ‘late for a golf date’ motherfuckers a few times, their ‘mom’s boy would never do such a thing’ client so upset at how he is the one being victimized; and try to maintain some level of professional restraint.

No, really. 

And, I have seen how effective even the idea (or threat) of a real-money-backed defense can be; seen the glee in the (private practice, big office and salary) attorney’s eyes when he saw the anger in mine. Bear in mind I have also seen the victims, the fear and sorrow, the damage done; permanent damage; and that damage would only be increased with the eventual realization that justice will probably not be served- sorry; so sorry; and, and, and, and…

Some level of professional restraint.

It’s funny, to me, how every time I want to cry; I’m far more likely to laugh.


“Oceanside and Imperial Beach” Outtakes from “Swamis”

Mostly because I don’t want to ask people to be my friend, don’t want to be turned down, I don’t follow Facebook. I do have a page; would have to look up my password. Stuff from realsurfers does go there, but if you sent me a friend request, it’s not rudeness or anything personal; I just haven’t checked.

Trish, however, does have a big Facebook life. Wait, does that sound, um, like something that might be (mis)construed as a putdown? I don’t mean it that way, partially Trish monitors and assists in administering the site our daughter, Dru, set up, “I’ve heard of Quilcene.”

Shit gets out of hand on a pretty regular basis on a site meant to do things like report bear and/or cougar sightings (no, they aren’t usually cruising surf route 101 and the Olympic foothills together), lost and found dogs, such things; but, with a population of somewhere around 500, the site has many many more members, and some of them can’t help but get personal. Or political. Or both.

Trish will, if I’m around while she’s checking out Facebook, give me the ‘you have to see this,’ or, more frequently, she’ll just start laughing and I’ll have to switch out my glasses and check it out.

This is the first time I’ve saved something, and, don’t misconstrue the reason I think it’s so hilarious. It’s mean. I figure it’s just the way folks down south go to the beach.

yeah, it’s mean.

Sorry. Couldn’t help it. Here’s another outtake from “Swamis.” I’ve become increasingly ruthless as I’ve gone through the massive edit. I do have a plan for what I’m collecting/saving under the title “Sideslipping.” Later.

This is fiction. Here’s where some of it came from: I worked in Oceanside, Buddy’s Sign Service, immediately after graduating from high school, 1969. The shop was one block from the in-city segment of 101, two blocks from the Greyhound Bus Depot (two blocks and railroad tracks from the water, two blocks to the pier). Rough neighborhood.

When I went to work painting for the Navy, Civil Service, I ran into Cliff Bridge, nicknamed “The Preacher.” When other WWII vets tried to give him a hard time after his admission that his battle station was a locker, he said, “I was on a landing craft on D-Day.” Shut them up.

As far as the Imperial Beach story; I did get a chance (which I enjoyed) to paint a sixty-five foot angle iron construction tower when one of the two guys sent out dropped two pails of paint on the first day, called in sick the second. No one died, but I did see the Tijuana Sloughs going off with perfect offshore wind conditions. No, didn’t go out. Working. Scared? Maybe. The guy who later killed himself is taken from what I heard about a guy who bullied me when I was in high school.

Fiction; me taking something, rolling it in batter and deep-frying it. Kind of like a corndog.


Oceanside was labeled a ‘Marine Corps town,’ a pretty rough place in the 1960s; all the rougher as the Vietnam War ramped up.  A succession of Camp Pendleton Commanders had threatened to not allow Marines to go to Oceanside on leave, particularly downtown.  Downtown was pretty much the section where 101 (with differing names up and down the coast) intersected with Mission Boulevard, the route east.  Follow it for twenty miles, you’d be in Fallbrook.

The Downtown section featured record stores and tattoo parlors and the cheap-credit-for-cheap- jewelry jewelry stores (‘a little sparkle for your girl back home,’), the pier, the beach, the stations for the railway and Greyhound Bus. It also featured the hawkers and the greasy spoon restaurants and the places lonely guys with very short hair, their faces and heads and necks (Leathernecks was a nickname from World War II) sunburned below where their hats (‘lids’ in Marine Corps-speak) had covered them during boot camp; teenagers who weren’t old enough to vote or go to bars, could hang out, try to act like civilians, and fail, before being shipped out.

And, evidently, Oceanside had reasonably priced hookers.

Oceanside.  Along with Imperial Beach, on the border with Tijuana, those two areas had the lowest-priced beach front real estate on the Southern California coast.  Both places had piers, both had consistent waves.  The Tijuana Sloughs were exotic, dangerous, legendary, with stories of lost boards ending up in Mexico, for rips and fog and for big waves.  A four-foot day at I.B. Pier turns into eight foot a mile to the south, on the border; with sneaker sets appearing on the horizon.  The only thing, I was told by a guy who surfed the Sloughs, scarier than getting caught inside by a set, was being outside, drifting south and out to sea.


I never surfed Imperial Beach; did see it while on a case that took me to the Navy’s Ream Field, a helicopter base that was constantly threatened with being phased out and shut down.  Ream Field was near the water, on very flat land.  Known as much for wind and fog as waves, in February of 1976 a Santana was working, and, from the hanger where some Civil Service worker had fallen, or was murdered, while painting a lighting tower; I could see the tops of waves, backblown spray, even from the ground.

After climbing the sixty-five-foot tower, however, I could see from the pier to, maybe, Ensenada.  The cleanness of the scene hid the riptides and put a sparkle on the polluted water. 

“Yeah, I hated the fucker,” the surviving painter said, “he just didn’t get his safety belt hooked-in… missed it.  Nothing I could do.”

Since I’ve already gone too far here, I might as well add that the accused painter had been involved in the D-Day invasion.  An eighteen-year-old Seaman Apprentice, originally from Oklahoma, “but on the Kansas border,” he was issued a forty-five and assigned to a landing craft.  “And, if anyone refused to get out; I was to shoot them.  Those were my orders.”

An embittered, divorced, alcoholic chain-smoker, he wasn’t a particularly sympathetic character.  The D-Day story was quite helpful.  “I never had to kill nobody,” he said; “They all just… went.” 

“He never killed anyone,” I said.  The dead painter’s family decided not to pursue him but continued their suit against the Navy Public Works Center.  They may have received some sort of compensation.  That was no longer my case.  The surviving painter, a few years later, in some trailer out in East County, Descanso, I think, shot himself.

SLAUGHTER ALLEY was the nickname for Highway 101 between San Clemente and Oceanside, the eighteen- mile portion that went across Camp Pendleton.  There were only guardrails between the north and southbound lanes, but bloody accidents were quite common.  My mother kept track, said, if I was going to San Onofre, even if riding with someone else, I’d better go across the base.  I usually did.  I-5 was connected by 1969, and the name faded.  

“Surf’s Up” and Other Stuff from “Sideslipping”

DESPERATELY SEEKING SALINE. Hey, it’s been too long between swells, too long since we got out there. YouTube videos just don’t replace being out there, in the water. Paddling isn’t the same as surfing. My standard line is, “If there weren’t waves you couldn’t get me into this (Strait of Juan de Fuca is colder than the actual ocean on the Olympic Peninsula) water; if there are waves, you couldn’t keep me out.”

Despite that, my most recent attempt at finding a place where one is allowed to surf and there were actually waves found me paddling, paddling, paddling. NOW, I frequently ride pretty small waves, and always say it’s practice for when larger waves show up. Not that time; but I did practice the standup part of standup surfing. Fun. Practice. Sarcasm.


Meanwhile, I am making some progress in my bigtime edit of “SWAMIS.” It’s way easier on the reader; chapters clearly identified, almost all the stuff related to the current/older Joseph DeFreines, Jr. cut completely. I am saving the longer cut scenes/chapters as “Sideslipping,” now up to about forty pages with about half the manuscript left to work on. Oddly, because I’ve moved chapters around and added some stuff, the actual word count has not dropped to the same place. Still, I’m hoping to get it all to around one hundred thousand words.

TO SET UP THIS CUT, Jody (Joe DeFreines, Jr.) is typing/editing a piece Jumper Hayes wrote for a creative writing class at Jumper’s house when Jumper’s parents come home. Part of one of my conceits in the story is that almost every character is part this and part that; Jody is half Japanese, Jumper’s father is a descendant of the original Spanish conquerors/settlers; and California is as mixed a melting pot as, really, almost anywhere.


‘Mexican inflection?’ I wouldn’t have meant this in any derogatory way, necessarily; but, if there is a California inflection; it comes from the mixture of Spanish and everyone else who came here; pathfinders and cowboys and gold seekers and Oakies, post-war migrants like my parents, and, I guess, me.  One cannot deny the Mexican influence, flattened and foreshortened by all the rest of us.

And then there’s the black and gay influence: Words and phrasing and phrases; how we thought gays and black people talked, exaggerated, co-opted, stirred into the California lexicon, the California dialect, the California inflection.

Still, the Mexican influence cannot be denied.

Surfers, of course, had to be a bit different; speak with a different rhythm, introduce new words.  You know the words.  The attitude, the surfer attitude, is probably more your idea than reality, exaggerated and perverted and spread by TV and movies and advertisers.

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.


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.


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 avo-caaa-do.” 

STAY SAFE, and watch out next time you see me. I may have been practicing.

Sketches, Okay, Sketches

In introducing his girlfriend to me, and, sorry, I have forgotten her name and I don’t want to guess; Chris Eardly (sp? I thought his name was Etley for a while, which morphed into Ed Lee), added that I did some of the illustrations she had seen at Tyler Meek’s DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.

Without going into how I hope the omni-demic subsides enough that it can be reopened soon, and I hope Tyler is doing all right… okay, I called, twice, at least… no return call…. ANYWAY, “Oh,” Chris’s girlfriend said, “I really like your sketches.”

SKETCHES? No wonder I forgot her name. I am kidding, sort of; I spend too much time on my illustrations to consider them sketches. BUT, I have been working on some, um, drawings for “Swamis”, which, UPDATE, I have cut down by eight thousand words or so, have made it easier to read. This editing includes establishing clear(er) breaks between time leaps and… AND there will be more cuts to come, all ready for the sequel, “Sideslipping.”

OH, I can see it now: ANYWAY, here are some sketches:

possible Baadal Singh
possible Gingerbread Fred

possible Portia Langworthy

As with everything else, I’m working on it.I
Meanwhile, please continue down to the next post, it should explain possible Portia’s wardrobe. Oh, and if you notice the lighting seems similar on the various sketches, you’re right. I am calling it “Swamis lighting.” Stay safe.

Full Lotus- From “Swamis”

   I had planned on cutting out all the stuff from this super-edited chapter that didn’t totally relate to Portia. I have been trying to do an illustration that captures the look I want Portia to have. I have one, but I have to go. I’ll add the illustration tomorrow. Check out the writin’.     


-no srfng. Study x 3. Write. Clss.  Studied Crim Jstce book. Easy. Jmpr & I kickd out of class. Dickson-


“I was surfing at Pipes,” Jumper told me, both of us walking across the Palomar campus from the upper parking lot, “last spring; kind of junky, and… Swamis wasn’t working.  It was pretty early.  Overcast.  I see this woman coming down the stairs. Kind of a flowing… I don’t know, robe or something, behind her.”

“From Pipes? You saw a woman… at Swamis… from Pipes?”

“Yeah; good vision.  A woman; and she runs around the corner…”


“Yeah. And… the waves weren’t too good, anyway; so I decide to go for a run.”

“Jog?  Like jogging?”

“No. Hey, Jody; Marine Corps.  Remember?  Cut me some huss.*  We don’t fuckin’ jog, man.”

“Yeah, so, you, um, run.  Sure.  You dropped your board and…?”

“Yeah. I stuck it against the rocks by the ramp, jogged on down.”  Jumper did a bit of a comic jogging move, legs flying to the sides.  “Ran. I mean, the beach was empty; I stayed on the hard sand… (whistles the Marine Corp anthem a bit) and I get to Swamis, go around the corner, around the point, and…”


“And there she was; full lotus position.”  Jumper held out both hands, palms up thumb to first two fingers. I nodded, gave him a hand motion that meant ‘and?’  “So, she’s sitting on whatever it was she had been wearing, and she’s…”


“No.  No.  But, she’s…” Jumper moved his free hand from one side of his chest to the other a couple of times. “…topless.  Oh.  And, full lotus.”  I mouthed ‘full lotus?’  “Full lotus; eyes closed.  I guess her dress was kind of… (he acted as if he was pulling up a skirt, unevenly, one leg, then the other) there was a lot of, a lot of leg showing.  Thigh.  I’m, I, um, run past.  Then, then I figure; like, if she’s in a trance.  You get that.  Trance.  So, I kind of jog- okay, jog; back… around… couple of times.”

Jumper did an overly-awkward, vaudevillian version of his beach moves, eyes on one place (in this case, on me, substituting, in this case, for the woman).  I duplicated Jumper’s jogging routine, adding some arm flapping, some out-of-sync hand motions.


We were both laughing.  Jumper’s voice got lower as we approached the first classrooms, little groups of students, a few more men than women, waiting for some 7pm class to begin. 

There was only one student I recognized.  Jeannie.  She had dated John in high school; John/Jeannie I called them, collectively.  John had moved away when his dad was transferred. Jeannie was standing we’re-together-close to a guy I didn’t know.  She and I exchanged ‘wave in lieu of conversation’ waves, she turning, I figured, to explain to her new man who I was and how she knew me.

Jumper exchanged nods with several guys, waved at a young woman.  She stepped forward.  He stopped, allowed her to give him a hug.   Side hug, not full frontal.  There were words: “Welcome back,” “Yeah, yeah.”  “You… good?”  “Good; yeah; good.”  “At least you’re out of that shit.”  “Could be.”

The people Jumper knew all looked a bit suspiciously at me.  Or I imagined they did.  He didn’t introduce me.  Then, I hadn’t introduced him to Jeannie.  He nodded in the direction we were going, and we moved on.


“It was, it was the woman from the ‘Jesus Saves’ bus.  Portia.”

“Oh.  Oh?  Yeah.  Her.  Her?”

“Yeah; her.”

I knew her name. Portia; knew she had had some sort of connection with Chulo.  Evangelists.  She was somewhere over twenty; long black hair, very tall, always in a long skirt, kind of a Hippie/Prairie/Churchy look. 

But now I was imagining her topless, full lotus.  “Portia?”

“Yeah.  Yes.  Porsche, like the sportscar; and, it’s, like, maybe the third time I circled, she opens her eyes and…”


“Shit; yeah; and she says, ‘I’m not Buddhist or Hindu or nothing,’ and I just…”

 “Fuck.  Busted!”  I was giggling.

Jumper got a bit more serious; gave me a look. Sideways.  I had fallen a bit behind him.  I knew better.  Jumper stopped, allowing me to pull even with him.  “She says, ‘Juni, Jumper Hayes.’  Not like it was a question.”

“What?”  I stopped.  I stopped giggling.

“Yeah. Yeah, and I say, trying to not look at her tits, which, by the way, she made no move to cover.  Just, uh, out there.  Eye level.  Tan.  They’d been out before.  For sure.  But, they were…” Jumper put both hands out, as if cupping breasts.  I was trying to determine something more specific about size and shape; probably something about whether they were high and… yeah; I was imagining.

The notebook under my left arm almost fell out as I tried to duplicate Jumper’s hands.  Yes, he had twisted and rotated his wrists a bit.  Size and shape.



Jumper dropped his hands, started walking again. “Wait.  Wait!  And you said?”


“You were about to say what you said when she said, ‘You’re Jumper Hayes.’ And it’s not Porsche like the car, it’s Portia, like, like a character from Shakespeare.”

“Shakespeare?” Jumper asked.  We both nodded, neither of us sure. 

No; I was sure.  Shakespeare.  “Shakespeare… I think,”  

“Well, then.  Shakespeare Portia.”


We were approaching the correct block of classrooms.  “We’ve missed some classes, you know.”

“You know I don’t care, Jumper; didn’t want to take this class.”

“Well; you’re a brain, supposedly; you can make it up, catch up.”

“Sure.  Probably just basic stuff so far; getting free food, beating confessions out of the innocent, rousting Mexicans, harassing Hippies; I probably inherited most of it.  Or, osmosis.”

 Jumper looked to see if I was serious.  Joke.  “Osmosis.  That’s it.”  We rounded the last corner.  There was a group of about seven or eight large guys in the middle of the block.

“Ath-a-letes,” Jumper said.  “It’s kind of a joke. You tell someone you’re taking Police Science, they ask if there’s a lot of athletes in the program.  Easy A, as I said.”

Several of the students looked our way.  “Grant Murdoch,” I said, trying to keep my voice low, to Jumper.  “Fallbrook.  Asshole.”  I flipped Grant the peace sign.  Grant flipped me off.  “See?”

Jumper stuck both hands in the air, flipping the bird with each.  Double eagles.  The athletes and Grant Murdoch gave way.

Most of them.  The biggest, tallest one stepped in front of Jumper.  Jumper stopped.  I stopped.  The guy was wearing a San Dieguito letterman’s jacket that may have fit when he was smaller, younger; fourteen or fifteen.  He was definitely somewhere over twenty.  Jumper’s age, probably.  “Jumper fucking Hayes,” he said.

“Tiny fucking Tod Beachum,” he said, to Tod; “Reach’em Beachum,” he said, to me, “if we’re talking basketball.”

Tiny Tod gave Jumper a full-frontal hug, picking him off the ground.  “We was so worried about you, man.”  Yeah, somewhere around Jumper’s age.

Jumper didn’t resist.  Not that he could.  Greater force.  He was being shaken like a ragdoll.  And then he was set back on his feet.  “Thanks, Tiny.”  Jumper rearranged his shirt a bit.  “I’m good.  You takin’ this class?”

“Uh; yeah; coach said we have to.”

“But, uh… coach?”

“I’m a freshman, Jumper.  Navy, man; four years.  Saw the fucking world, man.”


“Mostly San Di-fucking-a’-go.  NTC.  Cook.  You?  Heard you and Chulo did some time at the Gray Bar Hotel.  Fuckin’ shame about Chulo.  After that one scuffle…  I liked him.  I did.”

“Yeah.  Um… no, no Gray Bar…  they gave me a choice.”  Jumper snapped to attention. “Semper fi, Swabbie.”

“Wait.  No.”  Tiny Tod peeled off his letterman jacket, dropped it to the ground, pointed to a “USN’ tattoo, with anchor (no heart), on his upper arm.  He grabbed Jumper’s left arm, pushed up his sleeve.  He dropped his smile, let go of the arm.

Jumper gave Tiny Tod Reach’em Beachum a smile. Tiny dropped the arm with a “Sorry, man; just knew you’d have you a Jarhead tattoo.”

Jumper looked around at me and the other Police Science students, pulled the left sleeve of his t shirt farther up, revealing the rest of a large, almost oval scar, just to the inside of his bicep.  He laughed.  One syllable only; sticking his finger into the former wound, pushing it into the skin just past the first knuckle.  “No meat, just skin… and muscles.  Pretty cool, huh?”

“Yeah.  Uh, Jumper, man; you could put a, um, face tattoo of that thing.  Remember how you decorated your surf bumps, made ‘em look like…” Tiny let out a big laugh here, putting his hands on his kneecaps to illustrate, “Boobies?”

“Eyeballs, we told moms and teachers, then called the them dirty-minded.   Anyway, Tiny, you don’t need tattoos if you have scars.”  Jumper looked at the faces of each of the other students, all nodding; then back at Tiny.  “If any of you ath-a-letes need to… I mean when you need to, cheat off’a this guy.”  He put one finger on my shoulder.  “Joe, Joey.  He doesn’t just look smart.”

All the athletes looked at me.  Tiny stepped aside as Jumper started walking past them.  I followed. Jumper looked around, jerked his head forward.  I came up even.


Jumper kicked out with his right leg, caught me mid-calf.  “Sidekick,’ he said.

“No way,” I said.  I stopped just long enough to kick out my left leg.  Missed.  We both laughed.

Five or six men, older men; men, were standing at the other end of the building in another group; smoking, laughing.  A couple of them looked our way.  Jumper stopped between the two groups.  I stopped; even with him.

“Okay, Jody,” he said, in a lower voice, “Jody.   Joey.  Okay.   So I say, ‘Yes, I am. Do I know you?’  And she says, ‘Chulo… you were a friend of his.’  I say, ’good friends; not good enough; I’ve known him… knew him… all my life.”

“Chulo,” I said, “she and Chulo… I mean, different, um, mood.”

“Yeah, sort of, but then she unfolds her legs, straightens them, stands up.  Gracefully.”  Pause.  “She was wearing underwear.  I looked.  Yeah.  I did.  Black.  Lacy.  Her skirt kind of, um, falls down.  She must have had a belt to… She was a little, um, uphill of me; and she walks closer.  Her tits are still, just, out there.  I’m looking in her eyes.  Trying to.  So dark.  And she’s looking me up and down.  And she says, or, maybe, she asks, ‘Do you know Jesus?’  And I kind of… I kind of want to laugh.  I say, ‘Yeah. Jesus; half man, half God; I know a lot about Jesus.’  And she goes, ‘Do you think Chulo has found redemption?’”

“Wait,” I said, “Redemption?”  Now both Jumper and I were serious.  I pulled a pack of Marlboros out of my windbreaker pocket.  Maybe it was because most of the guys at the classroom end of the building were smoking.   Power of suggestion.  Jumper shook his head.  I put the cigarettes back.

“Yeah, redemption.  And I say… a couple of other runners, joggers; they were- I’d call them joggers; outfits and all; were headed our way… from the Moonlight beach direction; and she, Portia… Por-ti-a; she pulled up her dress; slowly covered her tits, watching me all the time, and, and, I guess it was the shawl thing around her waist.  She…”

“Jumper; man; what did you say?”

“I said that whoever killed my friend Chulo had better look hard for redemption because I’m looking for the motherfucker, and I must apologize to God and to Jesus for this, I want revenge.”

“Revenge.  Shit.  What did she; Portia, what did she say?”

“She…” Jumper looked from side to side, back at me.  “You know, Portia has one of those faces you don’t really, really see; maybe you’re afraid to look too close.  Mysterious.”  I must have nodded.  Yes, I knew what he meant, but what did she say?  “She just sort of…”  Jumper smiled.  “…smiled.”

Now Jumper and I both smiled.


I had many more questions, but it must have been close enough to seven.  A man came out of the classroom, herded the crew inside.  Most dropped their cigarette butts into the number 10 can at the door; some butted and tossed theirs into the juniper bushes.  The Ath-a-letes walked past, pretty much around us.  When the teacher caught a glimpse of Jumper and me, he pushed the next to the last student, Tiny Tod, inside, turned, both hands waving us off.  He started walking, quickly, toward us.

“Dickson,” I said.  “Detective Dickson.”

“That,” Jumper said, “I would call that jogging.”

HUSS- “Cut me a (or some) huss.” The phrase was pretty Vietnam era Marine Corps specific; referring, originally, to a request for a helicopter, possibly for evacuation of wounded marines; it came to mean the equivalent of ‘cut me some slack’ or ‘do me a favor.’ I would never have used it in my own conversations.  No.  I wasn’t a Marine.  A Marine wouldn’t ordinarily share the phrase with a non-Marine; wouldn’t want to have to explain it.

The New Now

Several times a day I check the Washington State Coronavirus stats, looking and hoping for single digits in the deaths category. Really, zero would be great. The numbers are declining and things are opening up. Still, places one can surf on the North Olympic coast and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, even if surf does magically appear (and it’s always magic), are even more limited than usual. If you venture to Highway 112 you will be greeted with an official road sign with a message that says, not “Local Traffic Only,” but “Locals Only.”


SOCIAL DISTANCING has been working. I wasn’t an instant convert, but I am enough of a convert that I get annoyed when I see people cruising around in stores seemingly unconcerned about how close they get to others and without (at least) masks. This is arrogant and irresponsible, and says “I don’t care about you and whether you live or die.” People who refuse to wear masks don’t, evidently, realize that the masks are not to protect them, but to protect others from them.

Add possibly dangerous and stupid to arrogant and irresponsible. Now, unfortunately, one characteristic of stupidness is an inability to realize one is stupid, as in actually saying, “A lot of folks are saying this is all a hoax.”

A certain sense of entitlement and self-righteousness and a quickness to anger might be others. Might be.

Yeah, I know. I don’t feel entitled or self-righteous; I’ve broken and/or not lived up to protective protocol, I’m not trying to sound preachy, I am trying to PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING; but, being competitive by nature, I might want to go pro level. SIX FEET. Back the fuck up!

MEANWHILE, here’s my latest contribution to the Quilcene Newsletter.


Many of us have a certain work ethic; we place a high value on work.  Work first.  Perhaps you have been described as someone who lives to work, a workaholic.  I have.  Not wrongly; it’s long (if fifty years of working is long) been my policy (sometimes stated) to try to do, say, five days work in three. 

This requires a certain optimism.  “All I have to do to paint this house is bleach, wash, cut back plants, mask windows, put out dropcloths, mix paint, etc. etc. etc.”

I could say youthful optimism.  The difference fifty years makes is the increased difficulty one has in self-generating this same enthusiasm.  “Oh, man; in order to paint this house I’ll have to…”  It’s the same list.

Different attitude.

All the little things that slowed the ahead-of-schedule schedule: Broken equipment, wrong-color of paint, rain squalls, etcetera; were irritating setbacks, not, as I once perceived them to be, little hints and shoves and roadblocks from The Universe meant to give me a bit of a handicap, because, otherwise, everything going to plan, I’d be wailing out the jobs, making real money.

Now, of course, I have age and cranky joints as real handicaps, and, thank you Universe, I still have many of the previously mentioned issues.  Not all at once, of course.

BUT WAIT, in the NEW NOW we have new issues. Work is something many are not allowed to do; at least not the old version of work.  I’m not retired, I have some work, and I have an overwhelming list of things I can do around the house, but, if the current situation is something like retirement…


Okay.  Okay.  I’m okay.  Actually, I am kind of annoyed with myself because my best excuse, which used to be that I’m too busy working or we don’t have the money (because I’m not busy working), is, in the NEW NOW, “What’s the hurry?” 

If questioned, I refer back to the Universe, possibly having to add that I have my own ideas on what I’m referring to as The Universe, but in no way do I want to keep anyone from having his or her own. 

I do have a few grievances: I am annoyed by the spread of overly sentimental news stories (not the ones about good people dying) about how together we all are.  Really?  Maybe back when one’s personal space was somewhat less than six feet, back when the look in someone’s eye was mild tension rather than abject fear that another human being might come in for a hug.  Fistbump?  No.  Kiss?  Mace.  If the message of togetherness is actually an advertisement, double the annoyance. 

You are also, possibly, less than thrilled to watch comedians and singers and reporters and pretty much anybody who is coming to us live (or recorded) on any screen, from a basement or back porch or private luxury yacht.

Here’s something: Every month Bob lets me know that I’ve gone past the official deadline for submitting something for this very newsletter.  Here it is… let me check… April 30, 2020… wow, I thought it is the twenty-eighth… Thursday?  Good.  No call, no text, no email from Bob.  I called him.  Left a voicemail.  He, so far, hasn’t returned my call.  I mean, whoa; is he all that busy?

It’s okay; I’m writing one anyway.  Work ethic.   Still, it’s shorter than usual.  Stay safe and you might not die.  Yet.  See?  Not sticky, gooey, sugary, oversentimental.

Here’s BONUS material, written by me, alone, at my computer:  I’ve been thinking about some future when some random COVID 19 SURVIVOR (and they’ll all being wearing hats thusly labeled, inside their bubble headgear) says, “Yeah, man; at the concerts, back in those days, we’d be watching the groupies on the side of the stage while the bands played; and we’d crowd down into the mosh pit and just get so crazy…”

Concerts? Groupies? Bands? Crowd? Mosh Pit?  Crazy.   

Stay safe, stay back, save lives.

“Sideslipping”& Competition

One of the effects of the omni-demic is that, for surfers, the chess board has been upended, the playground closed.

So, surfers can’t compete in the water when the water is off limits. Competition. Poor us. I started thinking about several aspects of competition, and discussing the competition aspect of our sport with several of my surfing friends. Specifically, I’ve been working some sort of scale in which a surfer can judge where he or she fits in a sort of, think fractions here, competitiveness over butthurtness equation.

Because we’re not equal. Yeah, I’m working on it; don’t claim to have it worked out. I’m trying to judge COMPETITIVENESS without factoring in actual surfing ability. This is, obviously, because one might be more competitive as one improves. I would also love to separate aggressiveness from competitiveness, so, there’s another problem.

THE NUMERATOR- One to nine, if you’re hyper-competitive in the water, give yourself a ONE. Well, that’d be kind of cocky of you. If you believe you’re a one, lie, give yourself a TWO. I really can’t imagine any surfer would give him or herself a nine, so, if you’re the surfer waiting near the channel, smiling as some wavehog paddles past you for the many-ist time, or someone not going out if the surf is good and just kind of crowded, you might give yourself an eight.

I’m giving myself a THREE, meaning, code-breakers, I really think I’m a TWO.

THE DENOMINATOR- So, BUTTHURTNESS. Where you might fit on this scale is determined by whether you’re prone to occasional screaming in the lineup, pouting in the parking area, quite obviously suffering in silence, board-punching, writing rude comments on windshields in wax, any acts of violence and/or vandalism, and, sort of a side consideration; how long you hold a grudge for wave sins you feel where perpetuated against you.

You can list these crimes against you. If your list is really long, if you have a large group of named surfers you hate, if you pretty much hate anyone else who is in the water with you, you may have earned a ONE.

Now, I was going to give myself a NINE, but, really, I have had a few resentments in the fifty-five years since I began board surfing. Warren Bolster once blatantly took off next to me at Swamis. It was my wave; I had position. It was probably about 1971, but, though I remember it, I figured he was probably frustrated because he’d been photographing rather than surfing, and maybe a bit over-zealous.

And I have definitely been guilty of OVERFROTHING. I’m still giving myself an EIGHT, though I’d love to be a NINE. Working on it.

WAIT, here’s a little more to back up my self-devised, non-reduceable (a 2/8 is not a 1/4) score: When I lost my paddle and it turned up stuck in the pilings and no one on the beach would fess up or give up the culprit, and he was, in fact, deemed, by popular opinion, a hero for getting even with the ruthless wavehog, I do admit to whining, complaining, pouting, with some threat to get even; but, when the perpetrator confessed, I immediately (well not quite immediately) forgave him. When I occasionally run into Raja, it’s all over, a fun story. “You’re still a hero, I’m still a wavehog.”

OKAY, I am still thinking about COMPETITIVENESS. I will concentrate on “Is competitiveness a bad thing?” ANOTHER TIME. MEANWHILE, here’s another outtake from “Swamis,” still in the massive edit phase. “SIDESLIPPING”

*The word ‘punk,’ evidently, comes from Elizabethan/Shakespearean times, referring to prostitutes; updated to include petty criminals in the early nineteen-hundreds, with a secondary meaning added in American prisons in which punks were prisoners available, willingly or not, for sexual favors.  ‘Kook’ supposedly is a synonym for shit in Hawaiian, has come to mean someone who isn’t proficient.  Shitty. A friend of mine, one who has spent enough time in Hawaii to risk using some pidgin if in the right company, informs me ‘donkey’ has become a synonym for kook, even cooler when a bit of a bray is included, as in, ‘donnnnnk,’ the final ‘ey’ optional.



‘Mexican inflection?’ I wouldn’t have meant this in any derogatory way, necessarily; but, if there is a California inflection; it comes from the mixture of Spanish and the many languages of everyone else who came here; pathfinders and cowboys and gold seekers and Oakies, post-war migrants like my parents, and, I guess, me.  One cannot deny the Mexican influence, flattened and foreshortened by all the rest of us.

And then there’s the black and gay influence: Words and phrasing and phrases; how we thought gays and black people talked; exaggerated, co-opted, stirred into the California lexicon, the California dialect, the California inflection.

Still, the Mexican influence cannot be denied.

Surfers, of course, had to be a bit different; speak with a different rhythm, introduce new words.  You know the words.  The attitude, the surfer attitude, is probably more your idea than reality; exaggerated and perverted and spread by TV and movies and advertisers.

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.