Boatyard Mike Surf Vessels

There’s nothing in this post about voting out our esteemed president. Some hope, yeah; but nothing negative about the… dude.

EDIT- I woke up realizing I couldn’t let that go. I have been wondering about who, with so much truth available on what an immoral sack of deceit and seemingly bottomless self-centered meanness our power craving fuckwad of a president is, could continue to salivate each time he slurs out some new slurry of lies and just plain shit.

Make no mistake, like the people he has scammed in the past, you, if you are not someone filling your pockets in this new age cleptocracy, you are someone your leader, no doubt, considers a sucker and a loser. How much you have to lose is easily accessible. Oh, you might have to look somewhere other than Fux News.

Vote!

Vote!

My first SUP was, I thought, twelve feet long. As I have with every board I’ve ridden more than a few times, I thrashed the shit out of it; rode it over a few too many rocks, rode it onto a few rocky beaches. Surfing; that’s what boards are for.

By the time I got a newer board, that one was sooo heavy, soooo dinged up. I stuck up against a tree, hoping it would get lighter. Didn’t really work. Since I didn’t think I’d ever ride the thing again, I decided to strip it down and make a shorter, more responsive, lighter one.

My current board, a Hobie, is ten foot, six inches long, has carried me through thousands of waves, over many rocks, and is appropriately thrashed, poorly patched (drips, not sanded out), and, since I seem to be knee-boarding more and standing less, it seems proper that I go for a smaller board.

Yeah, but I still want it floaty enough to use a paddle. This is where the twelve foot comes in. After looking at the dead SUP and imagining how I’d cut some off the front, some off the tail, do a minimum of trimming, and, yeah…

No. The board was eleven feet, and, with a little cut off the front and back, with a skil saw, I suddenly had a really rough seven foot six blank. OOPS. I did, after stripping off the glass, throw it in the water to see if it would float me. Maybe, hopefully, not really sure. I’m also not really sure if, even if the blank did, if it as a further shaped and properly glassed board would.

So, after purchasing a couple of tools, including a plane for the stringer, and spending way too much time trying to get, like, one rail that matched the other side, I had roughly shaped a fat, downrail, pocket-rocking, fish-tailed, wailing vessel.

Yeah, well, that’s when I got ahold of Mike Norman, formerly nicknamed Mike-eee, not because there’s an E in Norman or anything, but to differentiate him from Mike Squintz. Well, Squintz has gone back to Florida, and, anyway, most surfers in the area called him Smoker Mike. Well, when he actually gives up smoking… Mike does work at the Port Townsend boatyard; not sure where, specifically, and he has been building a few surfboards lately, and, anyway…

Anyway, even though I heard Mike would have been farther ahead if I hadn’t tried to be all Skip Frye/Mike Hynson on the blank, I have made a deal with Mike; he finishes the shaping, figures out the fin setup, does the glassing. I might sneak in and do some graphics; oh, and some money will change hands, AND I will give Mike the 5’9″ Bic fish I got cheap and used from Al Perlee down at the Surf Shop in Westport, tried to ride. Once. Mike has kids who can use it. Even though I rode six foot boards for years (years ago now) a 5’9″ looks like a toy to me now.

Oh, yeah; and I was a bit lighter, also. Oh, yeah; and I said I would do a logo for Mike’s boards. Here it is:

I do need to make it a bit, um, simpler. Yeah, working on it.

Now, if it comes down to a few pounds that makes the difference between a paddle and no paddle… again, we’ll see.

How Stephen Davis Saved the Zoom…

…LONG DISTANCE.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG with something you have written, read it out loud.  I figured I would start with that, only part of what happened at the “Art and Writings of Erwin Dence” Zoom event on the most recent Thursday night.

Keith Darrock, Port Townsend Librarian (he has a fancier title I can’t remember- just think librarian only more so, add in that he rips on any board in an ever-increasing quiver) and I got into the Zoom virtual space early, me on standby in my living room, he moving his laptop to an appropriate location in his home, books in the background.

Trish and our daughter, Dru, who had spent a lot of time making a slideshow from the illustrations (available for viewing on the previous post, non-slideshow) were joining-in from Dru’s place in Port Gamble.

I had spent part of the day preparing for what I hoped and imagined would happen at the Zoom event, having been way too distracted to get any significant work done the previous day because I was contacting and inviting (texting, mostly) folks I thought might be willing to participate.

WHEN I DID speak to someone, it turned into… well, I do like to talk.  I should particularly mention that I spent some time on the cell phone with a local Port Townsend (professional- as in no other ‘real’ job) writer who was gracious/foolish enough to read the entire unexpergated version of “Swamis” and give me a lot of guidance.  He said he’d probably be watching the last night of the Democratic National Convention, but, again, he was gracious/foolish enough to discuss what changes I had made to the manuscript since his review, and he did reveal why he had dedicated himself to writing.  “I just couldn’t see myself doing anything else for a living.”  “Road construction, retail sales?”  “Good luck.”

BECAUSE I had never actually written a succinct description of “Swamis,” as in 25 words or less, and I wanted to sound more author-like if pressed, I endeavored to do so.  Okay, it’s 376 words or so.  AND, because, in my mind, the audience/Zoomers might include the folks who have attended library events in the past, I went through the manuscript and picked out three pages that I thought might appeal to that educated group of hip and literate PT word lovers.  The subchapter is one of the more (I thought) semi-romantic parts of the story.

SO, 7pm Pacific Daylight Savings Time is 3pm on the Big Island of Hawaii where Stephen R. Davis, freshly freed from quarantine, is hanging out (and, yeah, I guess, working).  He was one of the first to ZOOM in, from his phone, from a vehicle, riding with former PT resident, and, by all accounts, surf ripper, McKinna (probably didn’t get the name right- I’ve heard of him but may never have met him- son of a well-known surfer, actually learned to surf in Wa. state), heading out looking for surf.

“So crowded,” Steve said, “Lots of wahines in bikinis.  Very little material.  I can’t tell you how little material there is in these bikinis.”

Okay, pretty appropriate.  By the time some other folks had joined, Steve and McKinna were going out at a surf spot with (we got to see this) some great looking waves.  Other folks had joined in, a couple of library types, as in solid citizens, but mostly local surfers I could easily name; and, if I get them to sign some simple non-disclosure agreements, I might.  Joke.  Sort of.  Permission.

If I had to summarize the evening, it was like what one would hear from a group of surfers in any beachside parking area, probably anywhere:  Who snaked who, what happened after that one session at that one spot, where did all the hipsters and hodads come from, and what about that time when…

SOMEWHERE IN THERE, about the time when I had to cut my video because of limited bandwidth from my overstretched DSL line (not that I minded this, the slideshow was designed, mostly, so that folks didn’t have to look at me) I did read my description of “Swamis,” and, most-embarrassingly, I did read the three pages I had (erroneously) selected, trying to vary the voices for the four characters.

THERE ARE sections of the novel with actual surfing, brilliantly described, with less dialogue from fewer voices.

THIS WAS WHEN STEPHEN R. DAVIS returned, chased, he said, out of the water by a “pack of rippers.  Kids.  They’re everywhere over here.  So many rippers.”  SO, we (and we, by this time, included, among others, Dru’s friend, professional DJ, Trenton, and Trisha’s nephew, and, I guess, my nephew-in-law, or, maybe, just nephew, Dylan, La Jolla surfer and recent graduate from UCLA Law School) were treated to another virtual tour of the Big Island, commentary by Steve, with continuing banter from what constitutes most of the unofficial PT Surf crew, special dispensation for ADAM WIPEOUT and, sort of, me, both of us from the SURF ROUTE 101 division.  Unofficial.

NEXT DAY REVIEW:  Fun; some good stories shared.  Trish told Dru I was nothing like Joey in my novel, told me I definitely need help in writing anything even close to romantic fiction.  Steve added significantly to if  he did not entirely save the event.  Dylan, probably used to surfing in the crowded California city surf with it’s ghetto mentality, thought it was great that surfers actually could enjoy each other’s company, even virtually.  Steve and McKinna scored some empty rights at sunset, Hawaii time.

Here’s my description of “Swamis:”

Joseph DeFreines, Jr. tells stories centered around the legendary Southern California surf spot, Swamis, focusing on 1969.  It’s a world of hippies and burnouts and Jesus Freaks and protesters, a time when words like love and peace and war and revolution might all be used in a single sentence.

Joseph’s father, a detective with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office, has just died in, of course, mysterious circumstances; Joe has just graduated from an inland high school and moved to the coast; he’s turning eighteen and facing the draft; and he’s falling in love with a surfer girl whose father definitely has a connection with the North County’s cash crop, the area’s open secret, marijuana.

The growing and processing and selling of marijuana is progressing, getting more sophisticated, more profitable, and more dangerous.  The formerly cottage industry is evolving from the homegrown, with plants hidden in the avocado orchards and kids selling dime bags.  There is money to be laundered, good citizens getting involved.  There is, or could be, a wholesale market.

The unofficial line with the Sheriff’s Office, in a quote from Joseph, Senior, is “The world works on an acceptable level of corruption.”

When a man is burned to death just outside of the white walls of the religious compound that gives Swamis its name, that level has been breached.

While surfing has its too-obvious allure; too much freedom in too little clothing, its aura of rebellion and undeniable coolness, it also has, at least in Joseph’s mind, a certain set of high standards, a code of conduct.  He’s wrong.  He’s naïve. It’s a different world, existing con-currently with the world of commuters, the world of law enforcement, the world of pot… so many concurrent realities.

The characters in “Swamis” are complex: A detective’s son with possible epilepsy and a history of violent outbursts; a wounded returning Vietnam Vet; an ex-teen runaway-turned-evangelist; a Japanese war bride; a hired thug who becomes a respected detective; a black photojournalist; an East Indian who wanted to be a revolutionary and was banished from London; Mexican middlemen under immense pressure.  If Swamis are seekers more than prophets, they are all Swamis.  Still, none are perfect.

Maybe Virginia Cole.  To Joey.

Maybe, among the chaos, there’s the occasional perfect moment, the perfect ride on a perfect wave.

385 words.

 

 

 

 

The Big Zoom Show… it’s, like… tomorrow? What?

Thursday, August 20, 7pm Pacific Daylight Savings Time. So, to Zoom in, and, frankly, I’m a bit worried about this, particularly since I can’t seem to figure out how to highlight stuff so it’s easy for you, but, okay, https://zoom.us/j/91279664230

Allright. No, not really, but, when the event starts, moderator/curator/librarian/ripper Keith Darrock is planning to show some of my illustrations. This is partially so Zoomers don’t have to see my face, and it was totally my idea. Yeah, Keith agreed. It seems like the easiest way to do this was to put a bunch on my site, let Keith scroll down. As such, I have attempted to move some from a thumb drive. We’ll see how that works. Stand by.

image-3

Cleaning up Swamies… oops

All right, here’s the illustration, so far:

And here’s what went wrong. I was working on the lettering, and had it pretty much done while sort of watching another British murder series on Netflix. Just as they revealed who really done it, and just as I was about to show Trish, I realized I had spelled Swamis incorrectly. Swamies.

Great. So, white out. I’ve taken to using the tape; sort of wroks (I mean works). SO, then I make a copy with my prin ter (also sort of works- images come out a bit crooked), and go back in and fix it. WELL, not yet; I’m thinking of getting a negative image, adding a bit more white.

If the image looks familiar, it’s from a Ron Stoner photo of Billy Hamilton, 1966. Mr. Hamilton is actually in my novel, “Swamis,” and probably from the same era. After one of my most memorable Swamis sessions to that point, from the ‘old men stop here’ platform on the stairs that were there at that time, I saw him cranking the most beautiful and flowing roundhouse to off the foam to in the pocket move (move as in it was seamless) I have still ever witnessed.

OKAY, so I took out a couple of other surfers who were in the Stoner photo, didn’t do justice to Mr. Hamilton. He’s stockier in my illustration, wrong here, not leaning into the turn as much as in the original… yeah, yeah… Hey, I am giving credit to Ron Stoner. His photos were, after John Severson’s in the first issues, the very heart of “Surfer” magazine; they captured the magic and mystery of the era.

I DID do a bit of a search for the photo, not wanting to risk scanning the photo ripped from an issue of “Surfer’s Journal”; ripped out only because there was some sort of misprint ting in that issue that ended up with most of the middle of the magazine duplicated. I didn’t find the actual photo, but I did find another Stoner photo.

When I was a sophomore at Fallbrook High School, 1966/67, Donn Fransich (sp?) brought in some “Surfer” magazines for show and tell in, I think, History class. He would stick them on the tray of one of those heavy, clunky overhead projectors. The photo on the right is one that I remembered from that his presentation. Not perfect, but perfect.

I’ve always remembered the photo, always wanted to see that vantage point in person. Coming back on the bus after a wrestling match with San Dieguito High School in which I actually didn’t lose, I still swear I saw surfers above and beyond the Self Realization Fellowship compound. When I lived in Encinitas in the seventies, I would often drive down the hill; again, looking for that magical image.

That Ron Stoner disappeared mysteriously; no, that doesn’t diminish the magic, not a bit. It’s there, the magic we chase; moments and images. I have caught some moments, surfing, that I will not forget; I am still trying to scratch and erase and capture, to flow into a perfect image. Not there; might never get there.

A New One for “Swamis”

I should, first of all, apologize for the coloring of the new drawings. A little too much for the one, maybe not enough for the illustration of Ginny Cole, some lettering added.

So, that’s about it. Stay safe, surf when you can. I do. Can’t say much more.

I am working on the manuscript; and, as objectively as I can be, I do believe the advice I’ve received is helping to make it better. If I can compare it to house painting, we get it all painted, then do the “Tighten up,” going back over all the surfaces, making sure it’s tight.

Not there yet, but working on it.

Speeding Surf Route 101

It wasn’t an accident that got me a ticket the other day, one hundred and ninety dollar fine for going seventeen miles an hour over the posted speed limit. I got a fucking speeding ticket because I was fucking speeding.

I do have an explanation, but not one that would get my fine reduced in a courtroom. Ya see, Judge; I was just pissed off; corona virus, people out of work, all kinda kooks coming over to the Peninsula, leisure time MFs (if you know what I mean), big trucks hauling bigger trailers and/or boats, cabover campers, and… anyway… oh, and earlier in the day, cruising up surf route 101, three vehicles passed me… me; one on a curve- had to pull over so I didn’t get hit by any shrapnel; I mean; good citizen, huh? Oh. Okay. So, I’m busy thinking about all that, and the stock market, and how black lives matter, and about Russia, China, Hawaii; whether the beaches will open in Mexico; lots on my mind; oh, and it looked like there might be waves the next day and whether I should go to bed as soon as I got home; and, yeah; I get down to 101 at Discovery Bay, over by Fat Smitty’s with his big Trump sign and folks waiting outside; not wearing masks, and I see all this traffic coming at me; so I pull out and I gun it. Now, I know it’s a 1987 Toyota Camry, but, maybe because of a hole in the muffler or something, it sounds like a sports car… and I’m moving along, thinking about the humane society and such, and… yeah, I’m slowing down because I’m catching up with other cars; you know, highway speed; and this car in front of me pulls over, over by West Uncas, in case you’re hep to this chunk of highway; and then, whoa, he pulls back out, lights flashing.

And he’s not really buying my story. “I had you clocked at 72.” “Well; I was slowing down; I wasn’t going to, you know, hit you.” Oh, I’m trying to be nice; figuring it’s all on body cam; and hoping… long story short, shorter; I get the ticket, three options, fifteen days to respond; and I instantly start thinking about how mad Trish is going to be, one, and that the surf will undoubtedly be good the next day because there’s no f’ing way I’m going to get to go.

And, of course, Trish is, mad, and, of course, there is surf, like, maybe knee high, but… but, of course, every person who owns or can borrow a surfboard is on it, and their cousins, and their cousin’s kids, and… anyway; maybe you don’t care about surfing; but, then we’re supposed to go over to our daughter, Dru’s, place in Port Gamble for dinner and a movie… George Takamoto drove the Camry; Trish went on ahead; and, and all I see out Dru’s window, heading east, are rigs with surfboards on ’em… oh, and, yeah; the movie was “Ford vs. Ferrari;” so, of course, there are jokes. “There goes Erwin.” That kinda thing.

No, I’ll probably pay the one hundred and ninety dollars.

HERE’S SOMETHING THAT I will take credit for; though it was an accident. I did a drawing, added a bit too much shading; figured I would redraw it. Because the original was on card stock, I couldn’t just tape it to a clear drawing board and use that as a template for another, hopefully better, version. So, I stuck it in the printer, but the printer ran out of black ink. So, I printed it in color. Everything that had been black came out white. So, I added some more lines and… here it is:

I may use it for my someday-to-be-finished novel, “Swamis.” Incidentally, I did use some of the time in which I would have been driving (too fast, no doubt) to and from the Strait, ripping up waves… whatever, to work on the manuscript. It is coming along. Really.

Simplify, Clarify… Continue

I continue to struggle in completing a publishable version of “Swamis.” Mostly I’m struggling with myself. I respect the opinions of the people who have read part or all of my unexpurgated manuscript. I believe the feedback. Confusing, too many leaps in time; all true.

I AM, HOWEVER, stubborn. My most recent addition to the manuscript is included here, but first; and there may be a connection; here is a drawing I decided is too busy, too overdrawn; just not quite right. SO, I flipped the paper over, traced the outline on the other side.

simplifying is not easy

YOU MAY NOTICE that, included in this passage, is something that came from here, from realsurfers.net. It’s the chaos/dreaming/writing thing; and backs up what is, evidently, my method of writing and speaking; say enough, write enough, something accidently profound might just happen.

PROFOUND. Yeah, it’s my ego. I’ve been humbled by the process; but my goal never was to write a novel, maybe one of a series. ANYWAY, stay safe, stay sane, try not to panic, stay tuned. OH, and, not sure if this passage will make the final cut, and do bear in mind this is (mostly) fiction; here it is:

CHAPTER SEVEN- TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2020

I’m sitting in my de facto office, folding table in my mother’s nearly-empty condo, part of what she called the “Great Condo Wall of Del Mar,” looking out at a scarred ocean, rip lines, squall lines, light pollution; gray on gray on gray.  There might be waves, weakly pushing off the ever-refreshed rip rap protecting the ever-eroding bluffs.  Can’t tell.  A dark line halfway to my horizon can appear to be a wave.  It would be a big one.

This is where I am, not where my mind is.

I have to decide right now, at this spot in my latest edit of “Swamis,” if this is a memoir or a mystery.  If it is a mystery, I have so much material to cut, I’ve been advised, to keep from losing the reader.  That’s you.  That’s free will. 

Painful.  I wanted to include little bios of people I ran into, little details, things that would let you, the reader, know that it was real, that I was fucking there.

Does adding the ‘fucking’ make me seem angry?  I am; even though I realize why it makes sense to cut out and condense and to make sure the narrative is, most importantly, clear.

Okay.  Thank you for reading, but here’s the thing:  I’m telling the story.  To you.  I know who I am; what I don’t know, what I have to constantly worry about and wonder about, who I have to adjust my storytelling for, is you.

I don’t know you.

Again, thank you for reading.  If I’m trying not to lose you by burrowing into some peripheral background information on a background character, some wordy journey to another side story that I believe offers some possible explanation as to why I or someone else behaved in a certain way; I will also endeavor to not try to fool you or withhold information in order to create some artificially engineered intrigue.

Still, I will be saving (some of) the unnecessary scenes elsewhere, some other file, like those little plastic things for resealing loaves of bread, hundreds of them, in various colors, that my mother kept in a dedicated drawer and that I threw away; like the notes my father kept from his encounters as a deputy and then a detective; like miscellaneous nuts and bolts kept in jars for some day.  Some day.  Okay.  Move the cursor.  “Cut.”

because I’m Unable to keep my hands to myself…

“Swamis” remains incomplete. I’m working on it. I’m still cutting as much as I can, trying to logically decide or guess or divine which parts are just too, too… wrong. Too this or too that. The goal is to make it all logical and an easier read and, you know, a great American Novel. Not that easy as it turns out. I’m breaking the manuscript into more manageable chapters (meaning more of them) moving some plot items so there’s less skipping around in the timeline.

I am putting the larger outtakes into the sidework file, “Sideslipping.” I’m including two of these in this post.MEANWHILE, I’m continuing to work on illustrations. I’ve included two new ones here, and, because I just can’t help myself, I’ve done some rework on another.

THE FIRST OUTTAKE is a bit of a redundant note that corresponds to Phil and Ray getting busted after appearing on TV the day after Chulo is murdered at Swamis. That is fiction. The note is pretty much the truth about the real life Phil and Ray.

THE SECOND OUTTAKE is some explanation, obviously not for real surfers. I was asked if I did research for “Swamis.” I did. Stephen R. Davis told me about the ‘donkey’ thing, I did look up ‘punk.’ Didn’t look up ‘kook.’ Real surfers know some shit.

NOTE- Phillip and Ray were (I’ll get to this) busted, partially because of this incident, for serial ditching at Fallbrook High.  They had so many hours of detention to serve (the usual punishment, an hour served for each hour missed) that they couldn’t do the time before graduation.  They were, instead, tasked with having to pick up trash around the campus at nutrition and lunch until the end of the year.  While some students threw wrappers and apple cores and lunch sacks to the ground when they saw either (or both) of them approaching with their large canvas bags and sticks with a nail on the end; they were also folk heroes of sorts, rebels; an enviable status.  Peace signs and nods, a few slugs to the shoulder (precursor to the high five and/or fist bump); maybe an already-dated ‘far out’ or ‘right on;’ probably not a ‘groovy,’ even from some otherwise-clueless classmate. 

*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 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.

ILLUSTRATIONS with EXPLANATIONS: I wanted an illustration for GINNY that showed a just-turning 18 year old. My drawings tend to get too dark too quickly. Partway through this one, I told Trish I just didn’t want to screw it up. “Oh, you’ll keep going until you do.” Hope not.

The illustration that I may or may not use for JUMPER HAYES started out to be one of JOSEPH ‘JODY’ DEFREINES. Jody is half Japanese, the drawing, part way through, according to Trish, looked more like someone who is Hispanic and a bit older. “Okay, I’m adding a mustache.”

I had already completed a drawing that, admission here, started out to be PORTIA. “Looks like Jesus,” Trish said. “Okay, it’ll be CHULO then.” I added some whiskers. I was drawing in black and white from a fairly dark background and couldn’t get a white enough white; BUT I got a white paint pen and… now Chulo looks way too pretty. OKAY, I’ll use the same technique when I get an illustration properly mysteriously beautiful enough to actually be Portia.

Possibly Ginny Cole
possibly Jumper Hayes
modified Chulo Lopez (Chulo does mean ‘good looking’)

RUMORS of swells and beach openings and such things continue. Stay safe. Six feet. That’s called ‘overhead’ in the Northwest, ‘four feet in Southern California, ‘flat’ in Hawaii. Oh, you knew that. Of course.

OH, I just remembered, I added a cross to an earlier illustration of Chulo, might just add one to this drawing.

“SIDESLIPPING” YOUR WAY

I’m, apparently, anal retentive when it comes to my writing. This is why the manuscript for “Swamis” is 123,000 words long; evidently somewhere around thirty, forty thousand words too many. WAIT, maybe I’m actually just trying to share all the good, um stuff. Wait; that would possibly make me anal explosive, the opposite, I’ve been informed, of, you know… hey, I wouldn’t think anyone wants to be identified as anal, um, anything.

OKAY, so, if I have to be that; if I have to radically, ruthlessly cut out a lot of words from “Swamis,” I’m going to, yeah, save the stuff.

SO, I’ve set up a place to put it, knowing, or, more likely, hoping that some of the peripheral stories I’ve so enjoyed writing might be useful in the, say, Season 2 of “Swamis.”

Yes, my ego is pretty much intact, despite getting reviews of the manuscript by two trusted people who actually got through it, both of whom (nicely but firmly) informed me it’s just too frustratingly complicated. Not the same as badly written. So, okay. That is, yeah; I knew that. Explosive.

What I would like to do, then, is publish some of the outtakes here. Here is the first batch, plus an illustration for the manuscript by the fictional Jody DeFreines by the real Erwin Dence.

The first segment is an embellished version of two separate incidents, one in which my friend Phillip Harper, both of us 16, had me try to purchase cigarettes as I, according to him, looked older. Not old enough, evidently.

The other segment and the illustration relate to the fictional presence of Ray Hicks and Phillip Harper at the aftermath of Chulo’s death (also fiction; based, sort of, on a real story of the body of a well know surfer ending up in a dumpster in Encinitas. Phil and Ray did get busted for serial ditching as per the insert.

the day after the Chulo thing. Sorry it looks cartoony. Good luck Joey

SIDESLIPPING- OUTTAKES FROM “SWAMIS”

Here we go:

SO FUCK-ING COOL… MAN

For a short period of time, but right about this time; well past ‘groovy,’ way past anyone remotely cool (or young) calling anyone a ‘Hippie,’ I made the adjustment, from ‘fuckin’, dropping the ‘ing,’ to Fuck-ing, emphasis on the ‘ing.’  This was after running into a guy, Gordy, a year ahead of me in high school, at a liquor store in Vista.  He was sporting a full beard and long hair (longer- Fallbrook had a dress code and I’d just graduated), parted in the middle (of course), and clothing, Hippie-garb I called it, that denied his quite-upper class upbringing.

“So fuck-ing’ cool, man.  We just don’t fuck-ing’ see each other, man; like, like we used to.”  And he was, obviously, stoned, with an even more-stoned girl, possibly still in high school; headband, boutique-chic top hanging precariously on her breasts, nodding, giggling, eyes unable to focus or even adjust to the light from the coolers; next to him.

I was looking at the girl.  Maybe I knew an older brother or sister.   She looked at me, squinting, then nodding, a finger pointed way too close to my eyes.  Big smile.  “My brother Larry,” she said, “he says you’re a fuck-ing’ asshole; oh and…”  She lost her thought.  Emphasis on the ‘ing.’

“Larry.  Yeah.  Well.”  Larry.  Yeah.  Larry’s little sister.

I walked toward the counter, looked at the guy behind it; older guy, sort of leering at the girl.  “Larry’s little sister,” I said.  The guy nodded. Appreciatively (by which I mean creepily).  “She probably going to be, like…” I looked at her (questioningly, not, I hope, creepily).  “…a Junior?” she nodded.  “Like, uh, next year?”

“Uh huh.”

“Class of, uh, a second…”

“Seventy-one!  Yea!”  She made a bit of a cheerleader pompom gesture, one hand, a jump motion without actually getting off the ground.  Junior Varsity.

I looked back at the Counter Guy.  He looked at Gordy.  A little judgey, not that Gordy noticed. 

Gordy put a hand on my shoulder.  I looked at his hand.  He took it away.  I put two one-dollar bills, my package of Hostess donettes and a quart of chocolate milk on the counter, pointed to a pack of Marlboros (hard pack) on the back wall, turned back to Gordy and Larry’s sister.  Gordy sort of gave me a specific (disappointed) look.

“I know, man… Gordie; you probably don’t fuck-ing’ smoke… cigarettes.”  He and the girl both giggled.

The Counter Guy set the cigarettes on the counter, rang up the carton of milk and the donettes. 

“Pack of matches, too; please.”

Counter Guy put two packs of matches on top of the Marlboros.  “You’re seventeen, huh?”

I didn’t think.  “Yeah, I am.”

“Well,” he said, “Got to be eighteen.”

He slid the cigarettes back toward him, a fifty-cent piece and two dimes and two pennies back to me.

“Oh,” I said, “I’m eighteen, too.  I meant…”

“And you, sir?” he asked of Gordy.

“I left my license in my other pants,” I said.  Counter Guy ignored me, smiled (still creepily) at Larry’s sister.  She probably took it as flirting.

Gordy put one hand on the cigarettes, the other on my change.  “I’m eighteen,” he said, “and I can fucking prove it.”

“Didn’t mean to be so… fucking uncool, Gordy,” I said, as we stepped outside. 

“Nah; it’s cool,” Gordy said.  He flipped me the cigarettes, one pack of matches, kept one pack; pulled Larry’s sister closer to him, put his hand out as two (obviously) off-duty Marines approached (obviously Marines, obviously off duty), both looking more at her than at him.  “Either of you two gentlemen twenty-one?” he asked, pulling out several ten-dollar bills.

Neither of them was, but the next guy approaching, not a Marine, definitely was.  He looked at the two Marines, at Gordy, at Larry’s sister.  He put his hand out, said, “it’ll cost you.”

“Peace, man,” I said, walking away, waving my free hand in a peace sign.   Gordy flipped me the peace sign with the hand holding the money, but quickly, and not where the Marines could see the gesture.   Not that they or the Citizen taking money from Gordy and him were looking past Larry’s sister.  She gave each of them a very quick, weak smile, and, in a moment of self-awareness, pulled her top up a little higher on her breasts.

Class of ’71.  Yea!

Maybe I was trying to make up for my uncoolness in challenging Gordy.  Probably.  Yeah.  Flipping the peace sign was pretty much over.  On special occasions, perhaps; displayed and shared with what we would only later refer to as ‘ironically.’

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NOTE- Phillip and Ray were (I’ll get to this) busted, partially because of this incident, for serial ditching at Fallbrook High.  They had so many hours of detention to serve (the usual punishment, an hour served for each hour missed) that they couldn’t do the time before graduation.  They were, instead, tasked with having to pick up trash around the campus at nutrition and lunch until the end of the year.  While some students threw wrappers and apple cores and lunch sacks to the ground when they saw either (or both) of them approaching with their large canvas bags and sticks with a nail on the end; they were also folk heroes of sorts, rebels; an enviable status.  Peace signs and nods, a few slugs to the shoulder (precursor to the high five and/or fist bump); maybe an already-dated ‘far out’ or ‘right on;’ probably not a ‘groovy,’ even from some otherwise-clueless classmate.  

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In Order to have Faith…

…one must believe faith works. Sometimes. Ever.

It’s Easter Sunday, somewhere in the season of Passover; and it’s Spring in the Season of Corona; the era of probably-won’t-actually-die, but most-likely-can’t-surf; whatever it is History ends up calling the period of time we’re all hoping will end soon with a rush of people coming out of our houses and condos and shelters, raising our hands to the heavens and…

I have had the thought that videogamers might just come through this all, if not unscathed, pretty much the same as when it all started; soft, pale, with definite signs of carpal tunnel and eye strain; claiming dominance over a vast number of levels and worlds and whatever folks who didn’t give it all up with Ms. Pacman.

Anyway, faith. I put it in pragmatic terms (above). This isn’t because I’m cynical; but I am careful where I place my faith. People. Very few. No, no list. Faith is tested; constantly, but somehow, with an apparently endless line of challenges ready to kick the living shit out of us; most of us have managed to, if not thrive, if not find ourselves without struggles and possibly with low-bank waterfront at an uncrowded surf break with minimal crowds, warm water, no sharks, no urchin-covered rocks, no jellyfish, no… no, but we’re still going.

It seems reasonable to have that much faith, enough to say, ‘it’s going to be fine,’ fine meaning life is mostly a total shit-show, broken this and lost that. Again, so far. But, there are those moments of joy and laughter, rare instances of total bliss, hopefully enough to keep us slogging forward. Forward.

I have been accused of being, uh, religious. Okay, I kind of am, but not religiously. It’s not like yoga, where, I’ve heard, if you skip a day, your joints all seize up and your yoga pants just don’t fit right. I’m religious in that whatever incomprehensible force or being or spirit or algorithm created or caused or allowed the reality we are slogging forward in, whatever it is that pushes the planets and stars and tides and the clouds… well, I think about it; I respect it. Celebrate when and what you can.

I am working on some illustrations for “Swamis.” I have invited Stephen R. David to help out. Going for a look. Looking for a look. Working on it. Stay safe.

working on some illustrations for “Swamis”