Waves: Enough is Never Enough

I checked with Chimacum Timacum to see if the quote and the story behind it were correct. CONFIRMED. Yes, he had witnessed Keith’s ride from the perfect vantage point, on the shoulder, looking into the oncoming wave. Keith did, indeed, backdoor the peak, did get tube time, did come flying out with the mental wherewithal to add a few swoops into the mix.

SO, then Tim got a ride (no doubt pretty good to amazing). Because of the pervasive rip, they are both walking back up to the point. Tim catches up, possibly taps Keith on the shoulder and… here’s the QUOTE: “Wasn’t that enough for you?”

This is actually another Big Island shot from Stephen R. Davis

I won’t keep you in suspense. No; not enough. It’s not just Keith who can’t get enough waves, but, yeah, it is Keith. I get it. I understand how, while getting a few mediocre rides will cause any real surfer to keep going until he or she gets a pretty good ride on a really good wave, or a really good ride on a pretty good wave, or even a really good ride on a shitty-ish wave; getting a really good ride on a really good wave will not necessarily cause him or her to say, “Yes, Tim, that was as good as I can hope for during this particular session, and I believe I will now go home.”

NO. Especially not Keith. Even without factoring in that Tim might get an even better wave, possibly from deeper, or that Tim might… NO, enough is rarely enough.

I have noticed that supposedly surfed-out surfers can suddenly spring back to life and compete fiercely for waves when… No it isn’t just when I go out, late in the latest swell window, but, yeah then. And I have been on the other side of that; back out for just a couple more because Chris Erdley missed my best rides, and, hey, I can still make it to Costco before it closes.

ALSO in my cell phone conversation with Tim, we discussed, as surfers do, past sessions. As you, as an avid reader of realsurfers, are aware, I have been ready to break my resolution to not surf until I have my submission package for “Swamis” ready to go. NO, I actually said I would have to have the novel’s third or twentieth polish/edit done. Backtracking. WELL, now I’m almost there on the submission, and totally desperate to get in the water. I’d be stoked,, rocks and boils and chop and all, to surf something like the wave in the photo, and, after twenty or thirty rides, I would be ready to… no, I pretty much stay until the waves go away for any one of several known reasons, I break a fin, or I just have to get somewhere else (not always Costco) and I’ve run out of time.

AND, HEY, what do you do when your first ride in a session is quite possibly going to be your best?

Keep surfing!

But, if you do happen to see me paddling out, please bear in mind I’m kind of… hungry. Next time, something on ADAM WIPEOUT that isn’t actually about that one wipeout I keep promising to write about.

Proning It Out

FIRST; this post is not about politics. Yes, I do almost regret writing anything that could be construed as complimentary of Mitch McConnell. Or misconstrued. However, I did get my comment in early, while he was still speaking, before MSNBC’s Brian Williams could say that the most successfully shifty politician of this generation, “Just threw the first fistfuls of dirt on the political grave of Donald Trump.” AND, totally out of character for me, I got excited enough to fire off an e-mail to that effect to Rachel Maddow (Haven’t heard back… yet), AND posted something similar to what I wrote her, available for your reading pleasure (scroll down). SO, with an allusion the the former president, “two scoops for me.”

“AND WITH THAT,” (an attempted allusion to the way Williams speaks), I’m through with politics, political theater, political intrigue, political… Wait, what? Antifa what? Lindsey’s… what? Really? Never mind.

SO…OOOO…OH, while bashing my head against the TV table yesterday, attempting, again, to complete a clear and effective (as in effective enough to convince a publisher to fork out their money) synopsis for my novel, “SWAMIS,” in under 1,500 words, I had, on my tablet, on a second TV table, a running live feed of the Bonzai Pipeline, courtesy of SURFLINE, by way of YouTube.

Very nice of them. SOMEHOW, watching a raggedy line of 80 or so surfers bobbing in scary -big swells, with larger swells visible on the horizon; twenty of them paddling for a wave that jacks up, will probably close out, one surfer throwing himself (not being sexist, him or herself then) into a freefall drop, catching enough fin and rail at the bottom, with the entire roof of a two story building coming down and on and over (and not just coming down, coming down with a vengeance and force beyond simple gravity), making a turn, weaving past or over several other surfers, sponge-bobbers, photographers), and getting just high enough on the face, with just enough forward momentum, to get, for a maximum of under five seconds, time in the most famous tube in the world; and, when and if you’re spit-shot out to the shoulder, you (notice I’ve switched it from third to second person) you get to claim it; two hands shaking or thrown to the heavens; and, if you’re really lucky, one of the helmeted photographers can put your image on INSTAGRAM, or SURFLINE can put your ride on its ‘CAM REWIND’ feature… and, if someone at Surfline actually knows who you are, your name might appear with the video; SOMEHOW, for someone trying not to concentrate on all that; having it going is both distracting and sort of SOOTHING.

NOT that it can be for those in the water. All realsurfers know how daunting even going out in conditions way more friendly than overcrowded Pipeline can be. I could feel that. Surfers paddling out choosing to bail their boards rather than duckdiving, even on the inshore waves; surfers hairing-out, choosing to not drop in; surfers so far out they couldn’t possibly get caught inside, though there’s little chance they would go on some mutant wave that did peak up just for them; surfers on second reef waves sort of casually cruising while the wave gets hyper critical; all this is great fun in the safety of one’s living room.

BUT, what I kind of couldn’t get past, what I want to concentrate on (concentrate, concentrate… huh?) are rides I saw in which surfers who had BARREL-DODGED (I got the term from Adam Wipeout- referencing me) a section, and dropped down under it, seemed to believe they could stay standing against ten feet of furious soup. None did. Sure, we’ve all seen videos of Waimea Bay- big drop, no shoulder, surfer caught under the soup- some make it.

Because I couldn’t concentrate, PRONING IT OUT came to mind. Actually, a specific wave. 1968, Mazatlan, Mexico; Lupe’s Left Loopers. Maxwell Harper and I had paddled over to the island across the way, surfed some tiny and beautiful righthanders with offshore wind, crystal water, crabs everywhere on the beach; and were paddling back. Max was not an experienced surfer, his brother Phillip, and the other adventurer on this trip, Ray, were back at the motel, recovering from the previous night or resting for the coming one. Or, perhaps, they just didn’t want to do our side trip.

SOMEWHERE on our return crossing, no closer than half way, big ass swells started forcing their way between the island and the hotel-lined beach. “Erwin,” Max asked, “What are these things?” “Waves.” Yeah, big ass waves. Here’s a thing (not concentrating): It is often scarier to be caught outside than to be caught inside.

ANYWAY, I take off on one, the biggest wave I would ride on this trip, or possibly ever, and, out of habit, muscle memory, I stand up. Oh. Partway down the face, I realize there is nowhere to go. Certainly not right. It’s a left. I look left. The wave is one giant closeout, pitching all the way past the last (many many more these days) hotel. Oh. Prone it out.

HERE’S how that goes: You (change of person again) drop down onto your board, back where kooks paddle from; you are in front of the oncoming break, but just for a moment; and your board slows down; still, the wave breaks right the fuck on your back; you hold on; somehow, the wave swallows you up, pulls you and your board back and up and (don’t ask me to explain the hydrodynamics of this, I can’t) suddenly, you’re being pitched forward, with and over the soup at somewhere approaching warp speed; and you’re back in front of it all again, pushed and thrashed and hanging on the rails; not just until you reach shallower water; no, you’re riding this thing until you hit the sand.

Thinking about proning it out?

To finish the story; I was pretty concerned about Maxwell; more so when his board came washing up on the next wave. We had already seen a guy caught in the rip on our first day in Mazatlan; rescued, temporarily, on another guy’s board, then back in the rip. I was running back and forth on the beach, looking for a head in the successive waves. I honestly can’t remember if I paddled out to retrieve Max or if he swam all the way to the beach. “I thought I was safer without the board,” he said.

I disagree with the premise; but I didn’t disagree with Max. Not then.

So, OKAY, I have used up my writing time for this morning. I have to go. I’m telling myself that, if I give the thinking about the synopsis a day, I can get back to it, fresh, and then… wait; what? Yeah, now I’m thinking about barrel-dodging, wondering if Rachel has gotten back to me.

Grim Reaper and the Devil, Dancing…

…and, yes, I’m sorry this post isn’t about surfing. I’m snowed in and have just plain watched too much of the whole trial in the U.S. Senate. I have been trying to work on “Swamis,” more specifically, on preparing a submission to a publisher. This requires having 25 perfect pages, a letter on my history and aspirations as a writer, and (this is the one I am having trouble with) a synopsis in under 1,500 words.

AND, and this just happened: Mitch McConnell, after Trump was not convicted (and this is the way it was expected to end), after Speaker of the House Chuck Schumer (and, wow, such friendly names- Mitch, Chuck, Ted, Josh, Patty, Dick, other Dicks) repeated how vile and crooked and disgusting our former president is, how criminally he behaved; AND THEN the self-professed Grim Reaper slithered up to the Senate microphone, announced how guilty the rabble-arousing former huckster-in-chief is, and then…

THEN Mitchell burned our disgraced ex-pres the rest of the way to hell. Well, maybe not Hell, Hell-a-Lago.

“Hey, there; going down? No, I mean, like, all the way down?”

I am not a fan of McDonnell, and I realize the cynical truth is that he is really trying to PURGE the former president from and regain the control of his party. Not a fan, but, for some short amount of time, I have respect (R E S P E C T) for his remarkable ability to not only dance with the Devil, but to lead.

“And dip, and twirl, and… spin. I said, ‘Spin!'”

NOW, because I believe the Devil, if there is a creature that matches our created image of evil incarnate, plays all sides of every issue, hedges his bets; I also believe that, occasionally, briefly, for a moment, the Devil takes the part of an Angel and does something righteous.

Again, again, again, I realize that Mitch’s real goal is power, that tearing the former president’s throat (if not his tongue) out is not benevolent or altruistic, I understand Mitch is giving the weak politicians someone other than the former president to follow, and, and, and… AND YET, if someone kicks the shit out of someone I am happy to see shitless; I will give them props.

TEMPORARILY. And now, back to editing, editing, editing. Is there still snow? Are there wavesT?

TEMPORARILY. I have overdosed, binge-watched, and I fully expect to have regrets. For the moment, dance on, Mitch.

Put Me on the Witness List

There have been only two times in my life that I have watched the television all day long. This shouldn’t be a tough guess: 9/11/2001 and 01/06/21. So, with the impeachment of the titular head of the Trump Insurrection continuing today in the U.S. Senate; the result has been pre-determined by minds pre-set or programed to set aside the duties assigned any and all elected representatives of us, of we the people.

Again, not a tough guess; you know the numbers necessary to convict.

So far, after blocks and votes and dodges and procedural delays, the actual event has been a trial with evidence aplenty and courage a scarcity. It is obvious courage is a scarce commodity. While donor/sponsor/tribe loyalties are commodities, bought and saved, sold or traded to a higher bidder; and while ethics and integrity are regularly exchanged for power; courage is rare; but, we know it when we see it.

We recognize courage. We value courage. We, we the people, are witnesses. Put me on that sad fucking list.

ALL RIGHT, I apologize for, again, posting something that is not about surfing.

perhaps he imagines himself a surfer. Sorry no, not a surfer, real or imagined.

I woke up one morning, October of 1962. I was eleven. My mother had, evidently, not gone to bed. Or she got up really early. TV stations, in those days, generally shut down in the middle of the night. “We might be on the brink of nuclear war, Junior,” she said, or something similar… same message. It was the Cuban Missile Crisis. Trish remembers it because her father, a materiel officer with the US Marine Corps, was whisked away in the middle of the night, and was gone for the thirteen days before Russia and Cuba backed down.

I was ten years old on February 20, 1962, when an AV (audio/visual for those who have never seen one) cart was wheeled into the classroom so we fifth graders could all watch John Glen orbit the earth three times in a space capsule. First American! Momentous! Yea, Us!

I cannot honestly say I saw Kennedy assassinated or Oswald killed, though they were both televised. My neighbor, Gary Schuyler, a kid about my age (12 in 1963) did watch the funeral train, came outside, crying, with an update. I was pulling weeds in the rose garden, required to earn a chance to go to the beach. I questioned why Gary was so concerned. “Because… it’s important.”

Television has made us all witnesses to history.

On 9/11, Dan Nieman, a local contractor in Quilcene, called me up… not all that unusual for him, at somewhere around 5:30, something about a job. He passed on the message, and I just recently found this out, an ex-military client of his, calm by Dan’s description, had already called him, frantically blurting out, “Do you see what’s happening?” I turned on the TV in time to see the plane hit the second tower. And everything that followed.

On 01/06, I returned home early from a job, though I had been listening on the radio to the events surrounding the certification of the election. Trish had just turned on the TV, asked what was going on with the people just starting to push at the barricades in front of the capitol. “Oh,” I said, “The coup is on.”

Something I noticed is that many of the folks marching down the street from the demonstration in which the (still, at that point) President promised to “be there with you” (but, of course, wasn’t), citizens who looked like your neighbors, regular folks; once they saw the thing was getting out of hand, most of those people turned away, did not participate in the murder and mayhem, were not part of that mob.

Good for them.

We have had, thanks to the strategic delays, time; not enough to put it behind us and move on as defenders and deniers would like; but enough time to get little bios on the perpetrators, more information on the tactics and the damage; enough time for evidence enough to convince anyone still unbiased of the proximity to a tipping point that our country was at on that day.

So. Courage. At first look, the Capitol cop who was chased up the stairs by the mob did not appear to be a hero. Now we know he was. I will still give points to Mike Pence for getting the Constitutionally mandated task completed. Points have to be given for Representatives and Senators who crossed lines to certify votes, or to cast votes to get beyond all the procedural blocks and dodges.

Oh; it’s 9:26, the Trump Insurrection trial is back on, live; should you chose to watch. I have to go, but I do have a radio.

Peace and… make your own list.

From BOB DAVIS: Subj.- Surf Colonization

I got a comment from Bob DAVIS; it showed up in my e-mail, with a request to moderate, as in Approve, Disapprove, send to junkmail, or hell, or to just send it to trash.

I hit ‘approve.’ BOB’S comment is somewhere on realsurfers.net. It may show up under comments on my “About” dealie, originally written in 2013 when I started realsurfers, MOSTLY to tell parts of the same story that I was trying to tell in a screenplay, “Afternoon Glass-Off” (probably could have dropped the ‘off’ part), aka “Inside Break.” The story is from pretty much the same time and place in which “Swamis” is set; late sixties, Southern California.

I highlighted ‘mostly,’ above, because, after 24 years in the Great Pacific Northwest, I was, at that time part way through another chapter in my surfing life, here. NOW, in the beginning, I didn’t realize the danger in romanticizing the Northwest surfing scene, and, in particular the surf on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I did name some surf locations, early on, did SUGGEST there might be waves… rarely. If surfing has blown up in Washington State, and folks continue to search out and be disappointed at known surf spots, it really can’t be blamed on my esoteric, no where near viral little blog.

BUT, if realsurfers is important enough for BOB DAVIS to write a comment, here, BOB, is your moment:

Hi, Please take down your posts about the surfing in the pacific northwest, purely out of respect for people who live here. We only get to surf good waves a few times a year, so if we have to deal with people coming up from California or elsewhere to get our waves that we only get a few times a year. first off, it makes no sense that they would want to come on a surf trip to a colder place, but also it is a fickle place and risk that chance of wasting their plane ticket doesn’t make sense to me. Why go to surf someone’s home that only breaks a few times a year when you could go to other more consistent surf breaks and not ruin someone’s life? This is just not okay from a moral standpoint. Please consider peoples’ lives and stop colonizing places.

This is not the Pacific Northwest. It is, apparently, already colonized.

HERE, BOB DAVIS is your answer: NO.

OH, and BOB, thanks for checking out realsurfers.net. If you happen to see me on one of the few times a year you get a few decent (and, wait, you did kind of admit there are rideable waves hereabouts) waves (and I am kind of recognizable- old guy, fucked up knees), say “Hi.”

Already Feeling (sorta) Guilty…

…for posting anything that might be construed as negative toward any group of surfers, and in particular in outing surfers I have surfed with and might actually surf with again as East Coasters (and it isn’t like I have that many friends to begin with), I have decided, less than 14 hours after my last posting, to say something kind of negative about West Coast surfers (including those who surf the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but probably not ferry wake specialists).

Here goes: Too fucking many.

This doesn’t mean I don’t want you to scroll down and check out what I did write; mostly to make a little comment on attitude. Now I am constantly reminded of how my own attitude and self-diagnosed ‘ghetto mentality’ in the water, honed in the crowded beach breaks of San Diego (albeit 42 years ago) is not always, um, appreciated.

1960s era Birdwell Surf Team and Men’s Beach Choir ready to rumble and break into “California Girls”
Rumblers from “Westside Story.” Matching deck shoes evidently part of team apparel.
Chimacum Tim not wearing deck shoes, and flashing gang signs, possibly code for ‘screw you’se guy-o’s, I’m all West Coast now.’

This image is also available in the previous posting. Please scroll down. But first…

Adam “Wipeout” James, total West Coaster, other than the time he was cowboying up in Montana or somewhere, wondering, no doubt, when the hell I’m going to get around to writing about his big over-the-falls wipeout, witnessed by Big Dave, and, evidently, others.

SOON. Again, all in fun; BUT, I should add, I never saw more than a few minutes of “Westside Story,” but, just like seeing Adam go over the falls backwards did for Big Dave, it made an impression. SCROLL DOWN. Please.

Something About East Coast Surfers

I was, fairly recently, at a break even those of us accustomed to the fickleness of waves on the Strait would refer to as fickle. I had missed the short window for surfing the spot, and the water was a wind-whipped, side swell-chopped, rocks-out mess; so, you know, like pretty good. What was a bit unusual was, among those who had been tossed and pitched numerous times in order to get a couple of steep drops and short rides before the radical tide shift made even the daunting conditions ridiculous, four of the seven surfers on the beach were, originally, from the East Coast.

If I made the session seem unappealing, you’re welcome. And don’t forget the fickle part.

So, there was AARON, from New York (like the city, rode the subway to Rockaway), JOEL, also from New York (more like Long Island), CHRIS, from Massachusetts (I’m thinking somewhere expensive; he evidently goes there every year for hurricane season), and TIM, aka Chimacum Timacum, from Philadelphia, though he suggests if not outright claims that he’s from New Jersey (probably thinking Northwest folks know Philly doesn’t have waves but don’t know New Jersey is the subject of some amount of derision from other East Coasters). EAST COASTERS, I can’t help believing, are different than West Coasters.

OBVIOUSLY I have a prejudice I should get past: all these guys are proficient surfers, but, yes, they have been on the West Coast a while.

NOW, I must now say that I gathered this background information from the subjects themselves, and everyone seems to know I will talk, I will reveal pretty much anything except where, exactly, even a not-so-secret spot is located. OKAY, put an asterisk next to that.* WAIT, I think BOATYARD MIKE might have also been there. Yeah, crowded. I am not actually sure where Mike hails from, but I shouldn’t leave him out. The other surfers on the beach at that moment were KEITH, from Oregon, originally, and me, from San Diego area, but, to be honest (and it’s not a secret-secret), I was born in Surf City, North Carolina, so, not an East Coaster as much as a Southerner.

Not that that’s better, surf prejudice-wise. OH, and there’s another thing: Are surfers on the Strait really West Coasters? HEY, WHAT?

ANYWAY, what was interesting about the little encounter is that these Other Coasters weren’t aware of their connection. I, of course, was, and pointed it out; which offered them an opportunity to share stories about, you know, cheese steaks and backyard lobster/clam chowder fests and anchovies on pizzas and, of course, hurricane season.

STILL, I CAN’T shake thinking there’s a difference in attitude, and that’s not even getting into the whole Hawaiian version of interpersonal beach etiquette. Since most surfer interactions run between gracious and abrasive, I can’t help comparing a meeting of Opposite Coasters with a scene or two from “West Side Story.” Less dancing, same amount of finger snapping.

“Okay, Jets; get you’se boards; we’re takin’ ova this here bus.”

AH, CATHARSIS. Now I’m free of all prejudice except… No, but working on it. Peace, Aloha, etc.

Chimacum Tim about to snap his fingers and, possibly, bust into a song.

“When you surf the Strait, You must learn how to wait; You hear rumors of waves, but you can’t take the bait; Out on the Strait… out on the… Strait.” Hey, Tim, just joking; but, seriously, man; I don’t think renaming any of the fickle breaks after you is going to catch on. Okay, maybe Tim’s Reef; I won’t tell anyone where it is.*

I PUT OFF writing about ADAM WIPEOUT’S wipeout… again. Next time. BUT, WAIT, Trish, who once lived in the Philadelphia area (though she was born in San Diego), just hepped me that it’s really not all that far from Philly to the beach, so, I will never mention it again.

THEN, AGAIN, ADAM, I’m sending off some stuff related to my novel, “Swamis,” to a publisher, including the first 25 pages, a synopsis, and a letter explaining my writing background and expectations; the second and third of these items still being edited and polished. I might just push Adam back again. Sorry, Adam.

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.”