Adaptation and Inspiration and Offshore Winds and Moonlight and Not Much More

Maybe you check the World Surf League site often, even knowing the big time contests are, like just about everything else, on hold, put off, or just plain off; maybe hoping there’s a little video or something  that might give you some inspiration.

If so, you could easily find the photo that I have adapted for this drawing.  I won’t say copied because it’s like, if ten people draw their interpretations of the original Mona Lisa or a statue of David, which one is a copy?  Which one, objectively, does the original justice?  Also, this isn’t the final version.  I’ve done some printshop magic, reversed the black and white, and added some highlights that will, hopefully, add to the same feel that the original photo has.  I’ve also reversed the image (going left rather than right), made some other changes.

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Oh, yeah; after Keith Darrock, Olympic Peninsula soul rebel and librarian whose library is currently closed to the public, said “the nose of the board is a little too kicked-up and pointy” I fixed it.  So, sure, I can adapt.

I’m getting ever closer to finishing a full manuscript editing of “Swamis.”  Keith and I have discussed the possibility of doing some sort of online reading.  We’ll see.  I would, of course, let you know.

I hope you’re all hanging in here, adapting to whatever new reality this is; and getting a few sliders when you can.

Flipping Out

I’m a little irritated that I didn’t get up earlier, early enough to get something done on editing “Swamis.”  I’m only about half way through what Microsoft Word is telling me is 240 pages, 117,000 plus words, and I’m hoping to get it all done before reading a bit of it at the Port Townsend Public Library this coming Thursday, 6pm.

Pimping, always pimping; shameless self-promotion.

It’s my own fault, of course; I didn’t have to spend a day arranging, meeting up, loading up, searching for waves, participating in endless hiking, surfing, more hiking, more surfing, more (“It’s good for you”) hiking, repacking, getting back to civilization, stopping at Sunny Farms (Yogurt cone- “Good for you”), not napping; but, then again, maybe I did.

It’s kind of what we do the rest of it for.  ANYWAY, because Trish and I share this (her) computer, and I do my ‘alone time’ in the morning, I do sometimes do some drawing in the evenings/night time.  I did the lower version first, thought it a bit sketchy, did the ‘hold it up to a light’ trace the outline on the new side technique.  That would be the upper drawing.  Then I asked Trish which one she preferred.

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Okay, I won’t hold you in suspense; she liked the lower one, even though there are scratchy ‘get the pen going’ lines on the right side.  See?  Here’s a side by side:

All right; now I see problems with both of them.  Maybe tonight I’ll…

Anyway, I had to write a proposal, send off business type emails (painting business), check bank accounts; and now… well, maybe I can do fifteen minutes or so on “Swamis.”

Oh, wait; another thing I enjoy about a multi-person surf strike, and thanks Keith and Steve, is the opportunity to… I don’t have time to get into it right now.  Okay, it’s like we each had a different surf experience, with different highlights; and we each have a slightly different story to tell about the same trip.

And we will.

 

More from “Swamis”

The latest on my the event at the PORT TOWNSEND PUBLIC LIBRARY, 6pm, Thursday, March 5: Surfer/Librarian Keith Darrock and I discussed this, and, of course, surfing, th other day. He offered me a certain dollar amount, a stipend (meaning not much) for reading something at what has always been slated as COWBOY POETRY.  He asked if I wrote my piece, “Never Was a Cowboy” specifically for the event.  Yes.  Oh.  Well, maybe they could increase the stipend (not, like, double).  Oh, but I want to read something from “Swamis,” and I’ve been working as much as possible to get through a total manuscript edit/rewrite, and I’m, right now (but not the other day) up to 100 pages of what Microsoft tells me is 248.                                                                                                                                   Oh. Yeah. So, the deal is, if I can read from both, I’ll take the lesser amount.  Agreed.   Meanwhile, I’m posting more from “Swamis” here.  Now.  The pages here immediately  precede the previous posting.  What? Yeah, if I do this a bit at a time, I could get to the beginning of the novel by… oh, let’s say, March 5, 6pm.                                                          And then, when someone comes across “Swamis,” it’ll make sense to them.              Although the library event is not Erwin-centric, I will have some art pieces, maybe some Original Erwin t-shirts available there, plus, still, the chance to invest in a limited edition unexpurgated (except by me) complete manuscript for one hundred dollars.

SO…

So, more respect than hate.

RESPECT AND THE SECOND TIER

“Chulo,” someone said, his waxed-cardboard milk carton in the air. There was a sort of muffled chorus, “Chulo,” from the surfers on the guardrail. “Limpin’ Jesus,” someone else said. “Fuck you,” several surfers said. “A little respect, please,” Virginia Cole said; then added, “Dickwad.”

I wanted to say it; “Dickwad,” and would have if I had been part of this group.

I would have said that, maybe, his being burned up was some sort of reaction or reference to the burning at the stake, by people who considered themselves Christians, of numerous heretics and witches and political rivals and… yeah; there was a lot I was almost ready to say out loud.

“They’re saying it’s some sort of… cult thing.” “Maybe it’s kinda like… you know, those monks burning themselves up over in Vietnam.” “No; dork; that was… political.” “Did you see it? I mean, the… the burn marks. It was, shit, there were…” “The smell.” “barbeque.” “Ohhh; ick.” “All the cops. Highway Patrol, Sheriff’s deputies… detectives.” “Yeah.” “One of them asked me about Gingerbread Fred.” “Really?” “They can’t find him.” “No shit?” “One asked me about the Jesus Freaks.” “What?” “Yeah, about, you know, Portia.” “Really?” “No.” “Yes.”

One of the guys had looked at me when someone said, “deputies,” a single word in a sentence stopped when he elbowed the guy next to him. “Oh,” I thought, “so someone knows who I am.”

No, they all knew.

“Drugs.” That was a statement. Though it was made in the direction of the water, it was meant for the surfers on the rail, and loud enough, grownup enough for the adjacent surfers, the second tier; me; me and a couple of other surfers who knew better than to get too close to the local crew. Not that any of us formed a second-tier crew. Maybe two guys had come to Swamis together, but, no, random loners- and not in a cool-loner James Dean kind of way.

“Wally,” someone behind me (third tier if I was second tier) said, sort of in a whisper, to the guy with him. “Kneeboarder.”

“Drugs,” the older man, Wally, repeated; “One way or the other. Drugs. I’ve told you; you do illegal drugs, you have to hang out with criminals.”

Wally was a kneeboarder. Even his kneeboard, yellowed, beat up, patched-up, homemade, was old, on top of the pile on his car, parked three over from mine. One of the teenagers on the rail, part of the crew he drove around at dawn, was, I found out much later, his son. My age. Wally had walked from the direction of the new, brick bathrooms and the green, wood outhouse (still there at that time for some reason) and the stairs (at least two other stair systems since then), and had positioned himself, a bit offset, but between the bluff and the guardrail surfers. Having gotten everyone’s attention, he looked out at the water. Optimum view. As I said.

The guardrail crew reacted. “Maybe… I don’t think Chulo was even a stoner. Maybe…” “Really, man?” “Chulo? No.” “Maybe he was a narc.” “Fuck you, man. Narc? Chulo? He did time.” “Hey, A-hole; either he was a stoner and the cops… I mean…” “Oh; so, like, if Chulo was a narc…”

Wally walked past the teenagers, and stopped at the front door of my car, put his hand on my latest backyard board, seven-two, reshaped from a glass-stripped nine-six. He nodded. I nodded.

“DeFreines,” he said. “Knew your dad. Didn’t like him so much, to be honest.”

“Well.” I shrugged.

“Hassled me a few times.” We both shrugged. “Say… this board…” He was running his hand down the rail line. “…looks like you made it with an ax.”

“Pretty much. To be honest.”

Wally chuckled. “You ride it well, though.”

“I, um… thanks.”

A couple of the surfers might have looked our way. Can’t say. I was afraid to look in case they were watching.

”Chuck you, Farley; go back off in your own jackyard,” one of them said. “Geez, man; so uncool.”

“You kids,” Wally said, turning toward his crew.

He took several steps, pretty much to the front of the Falcon.

“Narcs,” I said. Not loud enough. “Narcs” I said again, louder.

Each person in the loose crowd, including Wally, looked at me before he (or she- the one girl, Ginny- remember?) looked in the direction I had nodded.   They weren’t narcotics officers. I knew that. “Detectives,” I said, a little louder, hands at my mouth to (try to) focus my voice.

A big, American-made, unmarked police car; tan in color, the ‘varmint lights,’ the plain hubcaps, and a “Del Mar Fair” decal on the back bumper being the clues; had driven past, on the other side of the mostly empty, double-row spots. The taillights stayed on for a while after it was parked in the dead end of the lot. Both front doors opened. Detectives.

DEL MAR FAIR

We had one of these Del Mar Fair stickers on the Falcon. Mark, one of my friends from school, and, more so, from the Boy Scouts; a sometime-surfer, pointed out this real-or-imagined detail of unmarked police cars. “Yeah,” I’d said, “My Dad put it on the wagon; it’s sort of a, um, like, ‘don’t pull me over’ kind of, uh, code.” This prompted several other friends to acquire and display similar decals.

The decal, faded, was still there on the Falcon. The one on the unmarked car was newer. Southern California Exposition. Yeah. It was always the Del Mar Fair to locals.

DOUBLE EAGLES

Two detectives, so obviously cops, approached. Both were in their mid-forties. One was taller; tall, California Highway Patrolman-tall (they had height restrictions); the other huskier. Both had cop mustaches, no farther than the edges of their mouths; both had the apparently-standard cop brushcuts (basically combed back, but not long enough to actually go back- so, kind of straight up); one had sideburns that probably hit the limit of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office hair code; each detective sported a colorful and wide tie to, I thought, offset their drab suits, to look hip. Hipper.

One of the detectives stopped at the passenger side of my car, the other one came around the back and stopped at the driver’s door. Each was sort of smiling; though it was more a ‘don’t you move’ smile.

Oh. I was the only surfer left.

The shorter detective opened the passenger side door, then looked at me, didn’t look inside, but, instead, looked up and around and out. The sun shone through the overcast, but only on the horizon. The south wind had calmed. “Nice view,” he said, pointing at the water. Then he looked inside the car.

“Optimum,” I said.

Wally’s car made a completely unnecessary loop around the parking lot and past me and the detectives. The two surfers on the passenger side, front and back, of the too many crammed into Wally’s old car (three in the front, four in the back, Ginny and the two smallest guys in the middle positions, Ginny in the front seat, both on the driveline hump), boards and a kneeboard piled on top; flashed the peace sign as they passed me. One of them pointed forward. I knew all the locals were laughing.

I returned the peace sign, spun my hand, dropped the pointer finger, added the left hand in a double flip-off. The double eagle. I only dropped my hands, and slowly, as I turned toward the taller detective, just walking past the opened tailgate, and threw my hands onto the roof of the car.

The tall detective smiled, waved off my over-reaction. He opened my driver’s side door, looked at three schoolbooks, identified with psychedelic lettering, decorated with surfing drawings on the grocery bag brown book covers (Buy and Save Market, Fallbrook); several notebooks; various 4 and 8 Trac tapes scattered on the seat. He looked for the player. Not installed under the dashboard.

The shorter detective pulled it from beneath the seat on the passenger side, looked at the tangle of after-market wiring. “Oh. So. Stolen. Obviously.” He ripped the wires loose from the back of the tape deck, set it and one of my notebooks on the roof, between the racks, next to my ax-shaped surfboard.

I took the notebook back, said, “Not stolen. Mine.” I tucked it under my left arm.

The taller detective opened the back door. The seats were down. There were two other boards, damp towels, trunks, paper bags, empty cigarette and donette packages, empty chocolate milk containers; mildew and sweat and that burn-barrel beach smell. He swung the door back and forth a few times, with a “whe-eew;” then left it open.

“We’re just asking a few questions,” he said. He had a very deep, smoker-and-whiskey voice. “Got a license, son?” I pulled my billfold out of my back pocket, stuck the license toward him.

They, of course, knew who I was. Even if they hadn’t recognized me (which they did), they had to recognize the Falcon. Of course. This was for show. Cop shit.

The two detectives and I looked around at the same time, moments after the one syllable ‘whoop’ of a police siren.

Three Sheriff’s vehicles and a Highway Patrol car, lights on, blocked the only entrance to the lot, the only exit to 101. Except, yes, by foot. Some of the parking lot folks had just wandered off, past the SRF gate, and up the highway. Wally’s car hadn’t quite escaped. He would be hassled.

“Oh,” the taller detective said, holding my license close to my face, then leaning down and closer; “hadn’t seen you in a while, kid. The, um, funeral; maybe.”

No. I hadn’t looked at any faces there. There had been other occasions; the bowling alley, softball games, picnics. He would have been half-drunk, at least; and never able to beat my dad at… anything.

“Wendall,” I said. “Or, as my father always said, ‘Never win Wendall.’ How’s it going?”

The other detective laughed from the other side of the car, walked around the back side. “Never winned-at-all,” he said.

I didn’t look at either of them. Couldn’t. Not if I wanted to maintain my attitude, my cool, tough attitude. More cool than tough.

Placing the notebook onto the dashboard, I pulled the pack of Marlboros from my windbreaker, pinched a cigarette out, took the ‘Carlsbad Liquor’ pack of matches out, looked at the logo, at the two detectives; opened the pack, red stains against the back of the cover. “Too wet,” I said. Detective Wendall stuck a cigarette in his mouth, lit mine with a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department-logoed zippo. “Or ‘Swindling Wendall’,” I said, with a (confident, I hoped) smile; “that was the nickname my dad preferred.”

“Swindling Wendall” the other detective said, with a laugh and a hit to his partner’s shoulder.

I pulled a Zippo, identical to Wendall’s, from the right front pocket of my pants. “We knew,” I said. “Acted like we didn’t. He acted like he didn’t know we knew.” Wendall nodded. “Quicky-Dick Dickson,” I said, putting the wet matches back into the windbreaker, checking the group standing almost casually outside Wally’s car. Casual under pressure; that was the ultimate in surfer style.

Style was and is the ultimate goal in surfing.

JUST SAY THANK YOU

I could see the back of the very-tall (of course) Highway Patrolman. Wally, five teenage boys, with Ginny Cole in the middle, were all looking at me and Wendall and Dickson; and I was thinking only about how much I looked like a fucking narc.

It was too close and too fast to focus. I doubled over, Dickson’s fist still in my stomach. The cigarette popped out of my mouth, onto his shoulder. Wendall brushed it off, Dickson’s fist now a hand on my shoulder. It wasn’t until then that I felt the pain. I stood up straight. This was necessary, this was mandatory.

My father would have demanded it.

“Just say ‘thank you,’ Jody.”

Dickson picked up the cigarette and stuck it back in my mouth.

“Thank you.”

YOU SURFING OR WHAT

An hour or so later; If the swell hadn’t arrived, the crowd had. The cop cars were gone. Vehicles belonging to weekend surfers and families filled the lot. There was a Chevy van, jacked-up in the back, on one side of my car, a VW station wagon (Variant), two boards still on top, one door open, the three surfers who had been in it at the edge of the bluff, dancing around, pointing; all hooting; occasionally, in unison.

I guessed they’d trade off on the boards. Maybe one was a body surfer. It’s not that I cared all that much; I just wondered which one would not share his board.

The San Dieguito crew hadn’t returned. Somewhere else must be better. 15th Street, maybe, in Del Mar, Seaside Reef in Solana Beach. I was digging in the backseat area of the car, pulling out trash, putting it in an old canvas-like feed bag; already two-thirds full. My damp gear was spread out on the hood, all three of my boards now tied on the rack. The very back storage area was, I thought, pretty organized. I raised the tailgate. It snapped closed. I started to crank the window closed, then took a sniff, left it open, pulled the release, let the tailgate fall open.

From an open side door, I set the seat backs into the upright position, pulled up the seat itself, removing more trash from where the back seat was supposed to rest, raking the papers and wrappers toward me using a paper bag from the fairly-recently-opened Carlsbad Jack-in-the-Box. *Fast food.

There were some things stuck between the springs of the seat, farther in than three or four papers, folded in the middle, crumpled, pushed into the spaces to help hold the heavier objects. I pulled out a small towel, the type bowlers use. “Back Gate Lanes” was printed on it, red-on-yellow (Marine Corps colors, if I have to say it).

Stretching into the car, I unwrapped the towel. Rather, I started to unwrap it. I felt it; a pistol; a revolver, and four bullets, contained in a separate rag; all wrapped in an oily rag, that in a canvas (thin, but not plastic) bag, cinched up at one end. I put my hand inside the bag, onto the grip.

Something fell out of the bag. A key. Not a house key. Locker key. I picked it up with my left hand. There was, rather than a key ring, a wire through the top of the key and attached to a piece of metal, probably one-and-a-half inches by two-and-a-half, and probably taken from (I figured this out later) a fire extinguisher holder. “For Emergency use only” was stamped into it.

I chuckled. Probably.

Someone hit my butt. I tensed, my hand going into position; hand on the grip, finger near, but not on, the trigger; thumb ready to cock the hammer. The towel fell away.

“We surfing or what?”

It was Ray’s voice, from behind me; but Phillip’s face was in the passenger side window. Phillip was looking at the pistol. He was looking shocked. He looked away too suddenly.

I let go of the pistol; closed up the bag, wrapped it back in the towel, shoved it all back between the same springs in the seat; pulled myself backward, dropped the seat into position.

Phillip was now on the driver’s side, trying to act as if he hadn’t seen the pistol. We both did. Try. “Ray; Phil; great to… yeah; we… where are you parked?”

Phillip pointed around the corner. “101, this side of the Sunset shop.”

“Is this where you’re moving to?” Ray asked. “A car in the parking lot.”

“Good location,” Phillip said.

“Optimum view,” I said.

“So,” Ray asked, “again, are we surfing or what?”

*I discovered, as soon as I had a car to go through the drive-through, that fast food is not a great pre-surf choice. Prone paddling puts a certain stress on one’s stomach, chest; belching can be unpleasant.

So, more respect than hate.

“Swamis,” copywrite 2020, Erwin A. Dence, Jr.

“Swamis” Update, Two Chapters, and a Special Offer

Okay, here’s the UPDATE: Although I edited the shit out of the manuscript as I went along, once I (finally) got to THE END, I began re-editing.  Now, I did think this process would be easy and quick.  Not really; it’s kind of like work.  And, it’s not really getting shorter.  I was at about 110 thousand words and somewhere around 240 pages.  Now, having re-edited, “Swamis” is up to 114,000 or so words and I’m up to about page 60, so, somewhere around a fourth of the way through.                                                                    And, the thing is, every time I open it up I want to make some sort of change, including when I moved two chapters over here, somehow managing to get four copies of what I copied, this forcing me to either backspace or highlight and delete.  I couldn’t help reading a bit, couldn’t help thinking this could be just a bit… better.

I’ve included TWO CHAPTERS from fairly early on in the manuscript.  I did, previously, put the first so many chapters on this site, but, one, finding them might require scrolling down quite a ways, and two, they’ve been changed.                                                                  By way of explanation, the notes at the beginning of each chapter are those, supposedly taken at the time, of the fictional author of the fake memoir.

Since I am sure that “Swamis,” once published, will have significant changes from whatever the manuscript, once I take my hands off the keyboard and get, once again, to THE END, and because I’m always looking for some way to support my writing/drawing/surfing/surviving addictions, other than painting my ass off; I am seriously considering printing up TEN COPIES of “SWAMIS,” including some of the illustrations, all on cheap white paper, probably using both sides, putting them in a cardboard, three-hole binder (as one would a screenplay), maybe printing up the color version of the “Swamis” title page, glue-sticking it on the cover of the binder, signing and numbering each one, and offering them for a cool $100.00 each, American currency.     Again, this will be the original manuscript; unexpurgated, uncensored.                                 I say this is an investment, and like all investments, it’s a gamble.                                         When others are binge watching episodes on Netflix or Amazon, the proud owner of the manuscript will have the opportunity to say; “Oh, here’s another place where they Hollywoodized the shit out of “Swamis.”

Anyway, I’ve been betting on this for a while. MEANWHILE, I do plan on reading something from it at the PORT TOWNSEND PUBLIC LIBRARY on THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 6:00 PM.  Whoa, that’s coming up; I better get to editing.

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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 1969- BEANERS

-Grndvw, 2-4, bigger sets. 2 swim-ins. Jumper at Grocery. He knows Tony. Check cashing f/workers. Hung posters in my new room-

It was mid-afternoon, early in my shift at the San Elijo Grocery in Cardiff; and I was bagging groceries for a particularly talkative woman; somewhat older than my mother, dressed in a house dress, some sort of white scarf thing on her head, curlers bulging in some sort of random alignment under it. So, since women my mom’s age tried to look younger, hipper; this woman was, yes, older.

“Durn Texans,” she said, “worst kind of tourists.” She was talking more to the similarly aged checker, Tony’s sister-in-law, Doris. Doris was nodding politely, looking at price tags on some items (most she knew), hitting keys. It was more than halfway through Doris’s shift and some of her willingness to chit-chat enthusiastically had worn off. “Surfers,” the customer said, kind of looking at me. “Surfers from… Texas. Texas? What do you think… (looking at the name tag on my apron) Jody? Jody?”

“Jody?” I mouthed, looking at the nametag on my bright green apron; acting as if it wasn’t my name. It wasn’t. I’d been looking for another, better nickname for years. Jody was my father’s joke. Jody.

“Jody’s got your girlfriend,” my father would say, drill instructor voice pop-pop-popping the cadence. “One-two, one-two, one-two-three-four… one-two…three-four.” Jody.

I shrugged, said “Texas,” pretty much under my breath. I had noticed the woman had some sort of east coast accent; northeast, not that I could discern Philadelphia from New Jersey from anywhere else; but she hadn’t lost the European edge, that inflection; rhythm, maybe.

She pulled several items out of the bag I had, probably, overloaded. “I would rather make more trips… Jody. If I had big muscles, like you…” She smiled. I opened another bag. She put her heavy purse on the counter. “They all seem to have money. They want to rent by the week. They get sand in the shower; make a mess. Drink; leave cigarette butts on the patio.”

Paw’-tee-oh.

She looked from me to Doris, Doris now looking for the original price on a dented can of string beans. “One threw up on the sidewalk. Awful.” Back to me. “And… and they chase around our young girls. Believe me, if I didn’t need to keep my rooms rented, I’d…”

I was distracted, not sufficiently interested. I did nod, but the woman could tell I wasn’t even pretending to listen. Still I could tell she was looking me over; me; Jody, in the apron, my hair not long enough to pull back (but parted in the middle), my attempt at a mustache more like peach fuzz. She turned back toward Doris. “Believe me, Doris, if I didn’t charge them Texicans extra, I’d never…” She kept talking; I continued bagging, but I wasn’t listening.

No, I was listening enough to hear when the East Coast Woman whispered something to Doris.

I heard Doris say, “He’s Hawaiian.”

The woman said something about Hawaiian statehood and 1958 and passports.

Jumper Hayes, over by the big front windows, was talking to Tony, the owner of San Elijo Grocery. They, obviously, knew each other. I guessed this might be the first time they’d seen each other since Jumper’s return; each with a hand on the other man’s shoulder; laughing at… laughing at things that weren’t actually funny: Weather, traffic, the effects of the I-5 freeway. Laughing.

Jumper pulled up the left sleeve of his t shirt, poked at a scar on his bicep with his right hand, laughed. Tony started to roll up his right pant leg, stopped, sort of grabbed at it, kicked it out to show it still worked. They both looked over as two young men entered the south doors, each in lightweight white pants and shirts, clothing appropriate for working in hothouses (though more than I would have worn in that wet heat), moving, then standing, obviously nervous, closer to the big bags of dog food, fertilizer, and charcoal; each with a piece of paper, possibly a check, in his hand, each with his straw version of the cowboy hat in the other.

“Wetbacks,” the woman, Motel Owner, said. “Beaners,” she added, louder, in case Doris or I hadn’t gotten it. I put her ice cream in a white, insulated paper bag, placed it in with her TV dinners. “Guess they can’t just go to the bank like regular folks, and…”

Tony, an older man (in his mid-40s, I now calculate, well within my category of ‘older’ then) with a bow tie, a vest, and one side of his dress shirt untucked, did his sort of half-limp walk over to the other register, opened it with one of the keys on his belt. Jumper followed him, stood beside him. The two workers, on a signal from him, backed up by a nod from Jumper, approached. Jumper handed one a pen, pointed to the back of the check.

“Y’all need some help out with that, Ma’am?” It was the closest I could come to a Texas accent.

A woman with two children, one in the cart, her free arm holding the older child’s right arm pretty much straight up; approached the other register. She looked at the two men taking their cash. Each one folded and pocketed the bills, nodded toward Tony, then Jumper, put on his hat, nodded, slightly, to the woman before backing up and stepping away. The woman looked at Tony, rearranging bills in his cash drawer. She looked concerned. She looked at Jumper.

Jumper gave her a sort of matador ‘you’re next’ sweep, stepped back. Tony stuck his hand out, grasped Jumper’s, looked at the woman, put his other hand on Jumper’s shoulder.

“You’re next, ma’am,” Tony said, brushing his hand across the counter in a lesser version of the matador sweep.

Jumper smiled at the child in the cart, smiled at the kid not yet released from his mother’s grasp. He nodded at Tony and smiled (no more than a friendly smile) at the woman.

I may have neglected to mention that Jumper Hayes was quite handsome. The woman smiled back, let go of the bratty child, who, immediately, grabbed a candy bar from a nearby rack, stuck it, wrapper and all, in his mouth.

“Walter Maxwell McKay,” she said, a bit louder than she’d probably expected it to be. She gave Jumper an apologetic smile. He gave her an understanding smile. Tony gave me and Doris and the Motel Owner a different kind of understanding smile. He then gave me a nod that meant I would be helping the Motel Owner out to her car.

Jumper, Tony, Walter Maxwell’s mother, and her two children; with Walter Maxwell now back in the cart; seemed to be enjoying the moment. I didn’t look over as the Motel Owner and I passed Tony’s register. “I went to Hawaii once,” she said, “On the ‘Matsonia.’ Me and my… my husband.” Just past the only other checkout station at San Elijo Grocery, she stopped, pointed toward the north exit. We got to pass Tony, Jumper, Mrs. McKay, her two kids again, Motel Owner clutching the strap of her purse, her receipt, and her green stamps in one hand, close to her body, her other hand on the cart. As if I needed her help.

FRIDAY, JUNE 27, 1969- CHUBASCO

Pre-dawn chk Grndvw; Closed out. Chubasco. Jumper. Talked. Clld me bagboy. Swamis. 6-8. 3 tubes. Mostly inside peak, some connected f/outside. Jmpr told some locals I’m his neighbor, might be allright-

I was taking one last look from the bluff at Grandview, trunks and towel over my board; just in case the waves were not what they sounded like in the dark; the loud crack of an outside wave over the almost constant roar of those already broken.   It had to be surf from some distant storm, some hurricane, some chubasco off Baja, or… I didn’t really know; I had heard some swells come from as far away as New Zealand. The fetch. Energy. Traveling. Hitting islands, wrapping around headlands; peeling; like the images from the magazines; perfect, a slideshow in my mind.

No, this wasn’t that; this was disorganized energy spread out, waves overtaking other waves, closing out in deep water on a couple of miles of fairly even shoreline.

I was listening to the heavy ocean rhythm, peering into the darkness, watching the slideshow.

“One thousand seven, one thousand eight.” Fingers snapped close to my right ear. Someone’s face was very close to mine. Too close. “Oh. Okay.”

“What?” I blinked. The face was gone.

“Bagboy.” He may have said it more than once. “Bagboy; it’s closed-out.” I didn’t respond. “Fallbrook.”

“What?” I turned to my right.

Jumper Hayes stepped around, from my left, and was almost in front of me. “Fallbrook. Bagboy. You.”

“Don’t live in Fallbrook anymore. After graduation, we…” He cut me off with a swipe of a hand.

“Man,” he said, “you were just so… focused. I circled you three times.” He held three fingers pretty close to my face. “Focused.”

“Guess so.”

“But you’re back now?”

“Yeah.” I blinked a few times.

“Pretty scary. The staring. I’ve seen that kind of thing before.”

“I was, um, thinking. Focused, I guess; like you said.”

“Focused then. Sure. Thought maybe you were stoned out.”

I shook my head, chuckled at the very idea. Stoned out. “Three times, huh?” He nodded, put the three fingers back up. “Not stoned out.”

“All right.” There were conversational delays, pretty typical. Coolness etiquette requires one not to be too rushed, too enthusiastic. Surfers were expected to be cooler than most. Jumper was skilled in coolness etiquette. Though we had never been introduced, and neither of us introduced ourselves at that time, we both acted as if we had. “So, not a valley cowboy; huh?” He bowed his legs in a sort of stage cowboy movement.

“Never was.”

“But you did live in Fallbrook. Right?” I nodded. “Maybe your daddy knew enough to not live where he worked.” I probably looked suspicious, guarded. I was suspicious of anyone who mentioned my father. Apprehensive would be more accurate. “Don’t blame him.” I didn’t have time to respond. “You going out here, Bagboy?”

“I, um… it’s pretty, uh, big. Got to be tough to get out. Not too many lulls. Maybe it’ll…” I stopped myself. With there now just enough light, though pretty much only in shades of gray, I could see long, almost unbroken lines, ugly green gray, no discernible peak, closing out farther out than I’d ever surfed. “You?”

“Hey, Fallbrook; I will if you will.”

“Really?” I may have been a little too thrilled (or petrified) by this statement.

“Fuck no, bagboy; it’s fuckin’ closed out. There’s no glory in surfing this shit.”

“I guess not,” I said. ‘Glory?’ I thought. I would rerun this brief conversation, as I do with almost every conversation, back through my mind. Later. Always. Glory?

“Now, Swamis…” He waited a second. I tried to nod slowly, like I hadn’t already thought of Swamis. “Tide’s dropping. Swamis should be… fun.”

Jumper turned, walked away. I followed. He turned around, walking backward, about halfway to the street, at the place where I could go down the washout or back to my car. “Should be,” I said, breaking into a run as I passed him.

“Swamis,” copywrite 2020. Erwin A. Dence, Jr.                                                                              If you are interested in a copy of the original, you can email me at rainshadowranch@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black and White and Psychedelic, Plus Polar Bear Wetsuits Flyer

Though I’m quite focused on finishing my novel, “SWAMIS,” surviving Winter and its lack of real revenue, and keeping my heart healthy enough to survive at least one more SEAHAWKS game; I have taken a little time to work on artsy stuff.

AND, partially due to a recent event in which I selfishly burned (as in took off on a wave next to but down the line from) a well known local surfer… Here’s the rule on that: Burn someone who is equally aggressive (and transgressive, etiquette-wise), or burn someone who is a relatively close friend; and you might be forgiven (plus, you have given that surfer the right to burn you on one [only] equally or better wave); but take off on someone who seems to follow all the rules (that is, is patient, passes up incredibly seductive set waves without whining, as in saying ‘wave of the day’ in the most sarcastic way, or splashing water); and, even if this surfer doesn’t instantly (and rightly) call you out for the callous, childish, greedy wave hog that you are; anyone else who witnesses your selfish move (and there’s always a witness) will; and if you cemented your own reputation for ruthless surf crimes, years ago, for burning, among others, this very same individual (even though you apologized and he said, “It’s all good.”  It’s never all good.  No one ever means this); and, even though you did, indeed, apologize for your most recent lineup infraction (this time he said, “You don’t really mean it,” and you- I mean me, of course- kind of lost the first person/second person narrative for a second- said, “No, I do,” and you meant that- mostly due to now realizing you’ve sentenced yourself to another seven years or so of bad karma and mandatory niceness/deference toward that individual any time you/I and he are in the same lineup); and partially due to my telling another local surfer (and witness) about how Trish, not surprised at my criminal behavior, would call this incident ‘just another greedy fat boy trick;’ and then I had to explain the history of that phrase; and partially due to Trish getting all excited (not about the incident) and suggesting I might write a series, possibly for future publication, entitled, “Erwin and His Greedy Fat Boy Tricks;” because of all this; I’m thinking about it.

It being my recalcitrant behavior, and, just to throw in another word I looked up just to make sure I spelled it correctly, yes, I must be, might just be, despite repeated claims to be changing my ways, a recidivist wave hog.

Again, trying to change.

The first and defining ‘greedy fat boy’ story would be this: Second eldest of seven children, with both parents working, I, partially because I seemed to be the one who got up earliest, made sack lunches for the nine of us from the age of twelve or so, about the time, coincidentally, that I started board surfing. Sandwiches.  Lots of peanut butter and jelly or lunchmeat, about a loaf a day.  My parents would bring home a bag of cookies each night, and it was my job to dispense them.  Evenly.  “Okay, eight cookies each.”  Crunch, crunch.  “Seven each.”  More crunching. I once did get down to three and a half each, but it might have been a smaller bag.

Greedy fat boy.

Other stories would have to include my insistence that I developed my bad (O could say unpopular but effective) surf techniques and (oh, I want to say skills- that would be wrong) skills, my ‘ghetto mentality,’ surfing in crowded city lineups.

“But you’re not in the city now,” you might counter. Hmmm.

“And then,” Trish said, “You can go with the greedy fat man.”  “Hey.” “It’d be all right; you’re only being self-deprecating.”  “Oh; okay then.”

Still love cookies.  Too many fucking cookies.

Okay, so here’s my latest illustration.  Yes, it’s all out black and white psychedelia.  Yes, I have told those who I’ve shown it to that, yes, I want people to wonder what kind of drugs the person who drew this is on.

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Here’s my fake flyer for fake wetsuit company, Polar Bear Wetsuits.  “Maximum stretch, minimum shrink.”

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MEANWHILE… Good etiquette has its rewards (or so they tell me).

Stuck in the Suck… One Rib Too Far

It’s not, really, that the waves were all that dangerous or scary; it’s just that they were breaking too close to the beach.

Beach break.  Shore break.

I can’t say I’m not spoiled by reef and point breaks, waves that seem a bit more, um, polite, reasonable, more consistent.  On the Olympic Peninsula, the prevailing condition being flat or flat with winds blowing so frequently (and often briskly, gales from south to east to north to west, sometimes in one day) against any swell direction that might bring some sign of swell to the Strait, and even with buoy readings that suggest, almost guarantee rideable waves, the prevailing condition can win.

SKUNKED.

What is worse, figuring I’d figured it correctly, that I just might score, seeing even the super weak wavelets coming out of the dark and (despite the forecast) wind-torn deeper water, die among (as opposed to lined-up bombs sliding over) the rocks of a reef; a dark squall bringing a downpour; I discovered I might have been almost the only one dumb enough to believe the odds and the gods favored surf.

WAITING. Maybe it’s the tide; maybe it’s just…. a 47 (or so) minute nap, the downpour now the heaviest sort of drizzle, the windows now as fogged inside as they are wet outside; wet; that kind of wetness where they’re just covered in vertical rows of tiny drops, hanging there; one drop in each row gaining enough weight to fall down onto the next; but, and I would have awakened, no one else has even pulled in to see if there are waves.

So then one, meaning me, feels dumb for even trying.

BRIEF INTERMISSION- Here’s the negative, black light ready, version of the Soul Rebel illustration:

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OKAY.  There might be some options.  This is how I ended up hiking to a spot that offered three foot plus waves, still not clean, not friendly, ribs in the swell caused by sidewinds; breaking along (more like on) a steep beach where, eight feet from shore, the water’s eight feet deep.  Overhead.

SO, yeah; look for a corner, take off, drive hard, pull out before it all crashes.  There’s no channel to ease into.  There are sections, sort of separated by those sideways ribs.  A bigger wave should break farther off the shelf that is the shore.  Two successful-if-short rides are followed by one on which I went a rib too far.  Oops.

Stuck in the Suck, I was down in the trench, my board skittering up the beach with each wave, each wave rag-dolling me as I attempted to crawl up and onto the shelf.

OKAY, now I’m determined.  Drop, turn, burn, pullout. Repeat.  Not super thrilling.  BUT THEN, again, going for another section, an extra little chunk of water… Suck, stuck, rag-doll, crawl, try again.  After somewhere around fifteen waves, having ridden one three ribs and a ways down the beach, I got out without suffering a third knockdown. Enough.

FUN.  So, here’s my takeaway, based, largely on something I learned in Psychology 101, Palomar Junior College, 1969:  All passion (read froth or stoke or lust or hunger) seeks to eliminate itself; to diminish that desire that so often overrides logic and morals and common sense.  This lust/froth/stoke/hunger, extended by the ‘one more wave’ syndrome, can be more quickly diminished in sketchy, ‘one section too far’ conditions.

THEN, as passion does, passion returns.  NEXT TIME…

 

 

 

Soul Rebel Underground Art

I’m working on this drawing based on a photo of Keith Darrock at a way-too-identifiable spot on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  I am thinking of making it a label for some fictitious rub on, locally sourced, marijuana-based, artisan snake oil.  Maybe.

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The other drawing is one that I did to make up for doing the lettering for my friend Stephen Davis’s new restaurant, named “Cellar Door,” not “Underground,” though it, mostly, is.

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Meanwhile, because one of my clients, heading for Hawaii, texted me something that included, “hang loose,” I got to thinking.  Yeah, yeah.  In the cold waters of the northwest, we don’t tend to hang loose, we hand tight.  More thinking.  If there is a wetsuit company that needs a new tagline, how about some variation on “Polar Bare Wetsuits- maximum stretch, minimum shrink.”

Meanwhile, Clint Thompson, pretty much a surf fixture on the Olympic Peninsula for a while, has sold his house in PA, most of his 50 or so board collection, and is headed back to Florida.  His going away party was last night, possibly still going.

 

Trisha’s Birthday and Light; bending slightly

FIRST tomorrow is my wife’s birthday, the 51st since I attended the party for her 16th (I had been 17 for 2 1/2 months).  It didn’t go all that well, the party and my attempts to woo her.  No, nobody under 50 actually said things like ‘woo’ in 1968, but, before I gave up in the jockeying for Trisha’s attention against one very pushy asshole (not really subjective; there’s proof), before I went home; I did ask her if she wanted to go to the beach the next morning.

I was pretty sure she’d said yes as I, alone in kitchen in the house where I was raised,   contemplated love and life and feint hearts and such while eating a peanut butter and butter sandwich; slicing a hunk of cheese off a giant round (like 10 pounds or more) in the refrigerator (from Story’s Dairy, a knife kept on the top- one would re-wrap after slicing);  washing down my teenage angst with milk from a ‘cow-tainer’ (probably two gallons, plastic in a box, plastic spigot moved to new box when emptied).

On Sundays I would, frequently drive my father to his part-time job (he had several of these, and a full time job- 7 children will do that to a person) as a mechanic in Oceanside, drop him off and go surfing.  Frequently because whichever car my father had allowed me to drive, usually purchased on a mechanic’s lien, would frequently break down.

“Do you like her?” my father asked before we showed up at Trisha’s parent’s rented house (her father was in Vietnam) at 7:30 or so.  Her mom came to the door. Trish wasn’t ready, but, from somewhere behind her mother, Trish said, “Just a minute.”

“I do,” I said.  “Well, then…”

Yeah; pretty romantic.  Trish got to watch me surf at one spot, then got to hang out on the bluff at Grandview while I surfed some more.  She now says a couple of surfers tried to hit on her, asked what she was doing there.  She made some possibly vague reference to being there with (pointing) that guy.

We do count November 10 as the day we started ‘going together’ (probably an antiquated term itself), the deal cemented when, back at her parents’ place, lingering in the driveway, I asked if we should, maybe, kiss or something.

Logistics.  These things had to be worked out.  Bobbing and weaving, who goes in, which way do I turn my head (hey, I wasn’t a total novice to this)?  It finally came down to “One, two, three…”  Kiss.

A while later, Trisha’s mom broke it up.

This year, Trish will be hanging out at a ghost conference in Kingston, Washington, with our daughter Dru, ex-daughter-in-law, Karrie, grandson Nate; the folks who chase (they would say investigate) hauntings and such, and, of course, the ghosts.

If I think about the most frequent thing Trish and I say to each other; on my end, live and on the cell phone (while working, going to or from surfing, moving from the fruit to the meat section while shopping), it would probably be (yeah, even in the bread aisle, even with others listening) “Love you, bye.”  For Trish it would have to be, in an endless variety of situations, “Just a minute.”

“One, two, three… love you.”

Trish, 1969

Trish, circa 1968. Note, one, she’s wearing a wetsuit; two, those tires on my Morris Minor look pretty darn bald; three, check out the fin on that, probably homemade board.

Sorry; I got waylaid here a bit.  I have some tags put together for my t-shirts, available now at Tyler Meeks’ DISCOVERY BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.

AND, here’s my latest drawing:

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“Light, bending slightly.”  As always, I asked Trish what she thinks about it.  “You just can’t get away from that psychedelic stuff.”

Probably not.

Dominating vs. Ripping & Tags vs. Price

THE DISCUSSION went back and forth for a while. Probably too long.  Stephen Davis had seen a YouTube video in which Wardo, Somebody-or-other Ward (I will remember, just not this minute) boosted a big air, landed it, and was then burned by someone (Steve made it sound like it might have been a woman) blindly taking off in front of him; and so, of course, Wardo flipped the clueless kook off.

HEY, if you go by a nickname, people are supposed to know your name.  Miki? Dewey? Alex? Kelly?  Anyway, Steve read through the many comments on the incident.  Some folks defended Wardo, others thought, maybe, he could have been a bit nicer about the whole thing.

STEVE’S comment, to me, was, “DO YOU REALLY THINK Wardo got world class good without ever burning someone?” He answered himself with, “OF COURSE NOT.”

And I agreed.  This took up most of the first hour of the back and forth.  Maybe if I had a radio in my car that worked; maybe if it wasn’t so far to the coast.  Maybe…

SIDETRACK- I would be severely criticized if I publish anything (else) even mentioning surfing (or the existence of waves) on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  I have been criticized for not writing more often about surfing and the many joys associated with surfing.  I check the buoys and forecasts the way football commentators study even seemingly-obscure stats, and I have finally allowed the truth to work its way to this:  The ocean doesn’t give a shit about sending waves forty, fifty miles and more so surfers can ride them.  There are, however, waves pretty much every day on the coast.  CONCLUSION- If it’s about the same time investment for you, coast or Strait… nevermind that; how about this: Waves are a gift.

CHRIS WARD. I looked it up.

THERE WERE SEVERAL OVERRIDING ISSUES in Steve’s longform rant (if you will- he thinks it qualified):

ONE- When waves to sneak down the throat of the Strait, it gets rather competitive.  RATHER.  The surf spots are, of course, fickle, and either difficult to access (cliffs, fences, cops being called), or instantly crowded with even the rumor of breaking waves.

TWO- The points or reefs can feature a very pleasant surfing experience for three or four, but, adding in that most of the consistent (or diehard, if you prefer) locals (or semi-locals) know or sort-of know each other (and are very competitive), when it gets crowded, feelings can get hurt (and can stay hurt a while).  RESULT- A less pleasant surfing experience, people who could be your friends holding grudges, you holding grudges against people who could be your friends.

Steve and I agree on this; though I probably enjoy (tolerate, I’d call it) the jockeying in the lineup, the back-and-forth, a bit more than he does.  “If someone wants to really be good,” Steve said, somewhere on the drive back, “You have to be somewhere where there are always waves, where you can surf every day.”  Well, um, yeah; but there’s no way I’m going back to California.

WAVE COUNT.  That’s how you get to be good, like Wardo, his joy at landing his 999th air interrupted by some kook.  MEANWHILE, the kook, perhaps, unaware, blissfully unaware even, may have had the best wave of his (or her) life.

CONCLUSION- No conclusion.

ORIGINAL ERWIN AND DISCO BAY T-SHIRTS- There are some available (in a range of sizes, Disco logo on the front, one of the other two illustrations on the back) at the Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange.  Tyler Meeks has been at this a while now, and, when I delivered my latest batch of shirts, he said he could only get $15 each ($20 for long sleeves) without tags.  TAGS?  WHAT? One, I’m not really sure what my cost per shirt is- I’ll find out today when I pick up more; and, two- I will make some tags if it means I might actually make a dollar or two on the whole thing.  WOW, it’s so hard becoming a t-shirt mogul.

“It’s just that, if someone is buying a shirt for a grandkid or something; they want to see… tags.”  “Oh, okay.”

SO, if you get in there, like, tomorrow (Thursday)… before the tags are organized… and remember, these are, by design, limited editions.

LIKE waves, they make great gifts.

Illustrations for “Swamis,” the Novel

The manuscript for “Swamis” is up to, and slightly over 70,000 words.  That doesn’t mean it’s nearly complete.  I just looked at a painting project with a client whose background is in teaching and a knowledge of writing and writers.  When I mentioned the word count, adding I never thought I’d get to 60,000, and now I probably need another 30,000; and that, every time I take the time to work on the novel, I end up tightening up rather than adding onto the story.

“Well,” she said, I tell my students writing is never done, it’s merely due.”

Without going into any particular neurosis, I have similar issues with drawing.  I’ve been concentrating on pen and ink, and only occasionally risk pencil or watercolors.  BUT, for the novel, I want some of the illustrations to convey that soft, backlit look that John Severson accomplished in the early “Surfer” magazines.

Yeah, well; this is easier said than accomplished.

Incidentally, since, in “Swamis,” ostensibly a memoir, I steal stories and experiences from myself (and others), give them to the narrator, Joseph DeFreines, Jr.; and because I want people to know Joseph is not me; I have included, along with fictionalized versions of real people from my life, a character named Erwin.

So, that Erwin is the illustrator.

I think he is, also, a bit neurotic, unable to decide on his own when something is truly complete.  SO:

 

The first illustration, above, is the pencil drawing scanned in black and white, the second was scanned in grayscale, the third, after I (I mean Erwin) went back in with ink.

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I do kind of like the underlying white lines from laying it out with a very hard pencil, as I was taught in art classes at Palomar Jr. College, back in 1969.  Maybe…

Should I add that, now that I’m getting closer to the end of the story, I’m getting a little bit paranoid, a little less willing to share the various storylines?  NO, probably not, but I could tell you that I know who killed Chulo, not sure who killed Joseph DeFreines, Sr.

Stay tuned.