Sum-mer-time… Skunked on the Strait, 66 degrees at Swamis, 1967…

The surf report and forecast for the Northwest portion of the contiguous U-nited States of A-merica (dashes added to more closely reflect prideful way we pro-nounce stuff) is pretty bleak. You’d have to believe the Pacific Ocean could churn up something more than a two foot swell.

Hey, it’s summertime. Painting season. Hydrosexual Stephen Davis and I, both of us drinking coffee, were each sitting in doorways of our vans, paint gear spread around. I asked him about water temperatures in Baja (last fall) and Hawaii (this last winter). “Oh,” he said, “Baja was right between trunking-it and wetsuit temperature; probably 66 degrees or so.”

“Oh,” I said. Pause, both of us nodding our heads. “You know, back when I was a teenager…” Now Steve was trying to avoid rolling his eyes. “…when the water temperature got up to 58 degrees, somewhere around Easter; if you were still wearing a wetsuit… and bear in mind we only had shortjohn wetsuits… you were a pussy.”

“Uh huh. Pussy.” “Really. And you couldn’t put one on until it got back down to 58, somewhere around December; before Christmas, anyway.” “Uh huh.”

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What I didn’t bother to tell him, but probably drifted off into remembering, was an early summer morning when Phillip Harper, Ray Hicks, possibly Mark Metzger and Billy McLain, and I; no doubt in two cars from Fallbrook, all hit Swamis at about the same time.  I was first down the stairs.

I surfed Swamis enough from 1965 to see the basic reef, sort of fanned, overlapping shelves, hold up while the shoreline would change more dramatically; erosion, refill. Seasonal. The wave conditions went from one high tide peak too close to the bigger rocks; to mid-tide and two distinct peaks; to ultra low tide, one running crazy and almost hollow wave; from the December ’69 swell; through dawn patrol, after school, between classes-at- Palomar and work-in-Oceanside sessions (pre-1971); to the times I lived in Encinitas (’74-’76) and could sneak in a few; to New Years day ventures while working in San Diego because I didn’t have work in the Northwest (1991,’92); everything from Santa Ana mornings to south wind chop, onshore, glassy; overhead to flat; overcrowded to almost empty; with so many memories… they’re all memories now; haven’t surfed there in twenty-five years.

On the particular morning I was remembering while talking with Steve, shadows of the bluff extending into the water, there was a chalk board on the still-empty lifeguard station. “Surf 2-3, water temp- 66.” Whoa! Warming up! We would probably end up surfing what we referred to as Swamis Beachbreak, the quarter mile or so between Swamis proper, and Pipes, pretending there was a better lineup off this rock than off that. “Hey, I WAS on the nose!” “Hey, did you see that rollercoaster?” “Hey!”

I hit the water straight out in front of the stairs, caught a left just as my friends hit the sand. “Hey!”

Not that Stephen would be all that impressed. “Uh huh. Do you have any more coffee?”

self realization

“Uh. Um. Yeah.” I’m certain many of us will look back on the times we went searching for waves on the Strait. Sometimes it can be… “Waves?” “Waves? No, I got skunked.” “Then why are you smiling?”

 

 

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Swamis, Trancendental Meditation, and Passing Wind

This piece insn’t necessarily surf-centric. I wrote it for my blog, “Stuff That Goes On,” at the ptleader.com. I’ve been featuring some of my cartoons, after they’ve been rejected by “The New Yorker.” Here’s the one that goes with, kind of, the story:

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One of my favorite surfing spots is Swamis, Encinitas, California. It is so named because of the gold tulips adorning the high white walls around the adjacent compound. Founded by followers of Swami… sorry, I really don’t want to get into more of the history than that which impacted me. Again, sorry. The compound was a sort of mysterious place for surfers, and what was known back in the middle 60s, when I started (board) surfing [at least three stairways ago, when the parking lot was smaller, the bathroom was of the pit variety], was that people inside spent a lot of time on their gardens. And meditating.

Trancendental meditation. Groovy. Maybe it played into the rapidly changing surfer self image as the end of the 60s brought more of a drug culture; bearing in mind drug use was ‘mind expanding’ and ‘experimental’ at the same time. Not that I participated. I didn’t. Some surfers also, by the end of the 60s, switched gears into the Jesus ‘Freak’ mode. That was more my speed, though they had a zealousness that my (short, to be sure, I turned 18 in 1969) lifetime of attending church didn’t seem to give me.

In 1975 Trish and I had moved to a house we bought in Encinitas. Swamis was still my favorite spot, and in the time we had lived in San Diego, the secluded beach around the point and directly below a meditation garden inside the compound had become a nude beach. I discovered this, not by word of mouth, but by… hey, I was just trying to go surfing.

The nudity caused a problem with the people inside the compound. It’s evidently difficult to fully get trancendental-ized when naked people are cavorting (didn’t look it up- sure it’s accurate) below you. It eventually made the paper, it made the TV news. Meetings were called. Dennis Weaver, Chester on “Gunsmoke,” was at one, livid, leaning into the cameras to make sure the point was made that this distraction was not acceptable.

I don’t think his appearance helped, but, before Chester and the spreading of the news throughout the San Diego County area, and about a week after I discovered the nudity, I actually went to work for local (Cardiff) painting contractor “Two Coat” Charlie Barnett, on a project to paint the exterior stucco surfaces at the enclave. We had to be quiet, I was told. Okay, but first break time, two of the helpers on the crew said we should all go up to the meditation garden and ‘watch the nudies.’ “What, you know about this?” “Hey, man; everyone knows.”

One thing that struck me was that, during what was evidently a women’s retreat, meals were taken in silence. That’s fine. I mean, there was the sound, no doubt, of chewing, maybe some loud swallowing. After the meal, partially-filled and enlightened participants went back to their stucco cabins for private meditation.

Now, everything around the compound, the gardens, the paths, the concrete, was supposed to be spotless. All the attendees were dressed in white. Although Charlie had hired the aforementioned helpers to insure cleanliness, he was having trouble getting his final payment until all spots of paint were cleaned up. So, Charlie and I were crawling around the sidewalks with wire brushes and lacquer thinner, cleaning. Oh, Charlie and I were also dressed in white, as is traditional, but with spots of colors, more so on my clothes than Charlie’s.

I was just trying to get the job done, but couldn’t help but hear, around pretty much every guest cabin, the unmistakable sound of someone passing gas.

Amazing. No doubt related to trancendentalizing. On a related note, Trish claims her father, always the ideal image of propriety, would often pass gas while under the headphones, listening to phonograph records. And then there’s the almost absolute need, possibly because of the altitude, while riding in a plane… hey, this isn’t a secret. As far as whether there’s still a nude beach at Swamis; haven’t a clue.

Here’s another rejected cartoon: Image (34)It’s Nietzche. I explained it in another blog post at ptleader.com  Go to “Blog” at the top of the home page, click on “Stuff That Goes On.”

As far as my fear of meditation… another time.

The Hawaiian Bodysurfer who saved

…more of the ocean than any previous President is outahere. Say what you want, and T-Rump supporters are no less shy about shouting shit than they are about believing shit; and, being a right-winger hasn’t stopped some notable surfers from being great surfers (which kind of runs contrary to the rebel/pirate/outsider image, which probably, and sadly, always was fiction); it is a scary future we face.

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So, maybe Obama is glad he’s leaving office now. By way of explanation; I just submitted some more cartoons to “The New Yorker” a week ago, can’t submit any more for another three weeks, thought, originally, of doing a cartoon that would use one of Obama’s catch phrases; maybe two movers standing beside a moving truck outside the White House as another one pulls away. One of the guys is on a cell phone, says, “Yes, he’s clear. Perfectly clear.”

No, it’s no easier to get than this one. And, it won’t mean much a month from now.  So, here’s another one. As with many of my cartoons (and this one is a riff on the famous “American Gothic” by Grant Wood), once I get the drawing done, I’m not sure where to go with the caption. I wanted to say something about how he’s gloating now, but… but maybe her vote cancelled his out.

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With a shout out to yesterday’s Women’s Marches around the country, maybe a more fitting caption might be her saying: “You know, I never noticed how tiny YOUR hands are.”

MEANWHILE, the surf seems to be all centered around Northern Oregon. I did hit the actual Pacific Coast last weekend. Pretty good for a beachbreak, 36 degree air, amazingly cold water. HYDROSEXUAL STEPHEN DAVIS is still somewhere in Baja. He did accept my FACEBOOK friend request at Erwin Dence Jr.   Maybe he did mean he’d be spending all winter down there. Hopefully he’s getting massive numbers of great waves.

Peace. No, really.

Keep on Truckin’ 46 Years Later…

…with permission. I was going to put this in my last post, but, really, it deserves more. In thinking of cartoons to submit (submit being a perfect word for this- writers and artists are always begging someone to read or look at our stuff) to “The New Yorker,” and, with those who do look at my drawing style, unaware of the connection to Rick Griffin’s drawings in 60s era “Surfer,” comparing it to that of R. Crumb; it seems an easy step to my re-imagining Mr. Crumb’s iconic (not a word I overuse) “Keep on Truckin'” illustration.

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BUT, BEFORE I submitted the drawing, I felt I had to seek permission from the reclusive Mr. Robert Crumb. SO, I GOOGLED him (fascinating), found a connection, emailed the guy who, it turns out, is in charge of marketing. No response. I tried again. It is no exaggeration to say that getting a reply from R. Crumb is one of the most thrilling things in my long but… (I’m doing some calculating here. With the top artists being so far above everyone else, and some people never even showing their works… hmmm… so I’ll say… somewhat… no…) somewhat satisfying art history.

image-141I was, undoubtedly, so excited to get the email that I  didn’t even realize the tone of his email was sort of negative.  And, I wrote that I’d put my drawing on my wall, and I didn’t even have a wall. Maybe I did, but hadn’t taken advantage of it. I do have a twitter dealeo. I think it’s BigERwin; rarely look at it.  And, I still don’t know how to do stuff on Facebook. Trish, who has her own stuff on Facebook, occasionally  helps out. I think I’m at Erwin Dence Jr. but I’m afraid to ask people to be my Friend, for fear of rejection.

Submission, rejection; sometimes we get something positive. AND I have to thank my sister, Melissa Lynch, for pimping my site on the Facebook. Thanks to you for checking out my stuff. Keep on truckin’.