I checked with Chimacum Timacum to see if the quote and the story behind it were correct. CONFIRMED. Yes, he had witnessed Keith’s ride from the perfect vantage point, on the shoulder, looking into the oncoming wave. Keith did, indeed, backdoor the peak, did get tube time, did come flying out with the mental wherewithal to add a few swoops into the mix.
SO, then Tim got a ride (no doubt pretty good to amazing). Because of the pervasive rip, they are both walking back up to the point. Tim catches up, possibly taps Keith on the shoulder and… here’s the QUOTE: “Wasn’t that enough for you?”
I won’t keep you in suspense. No; not enough. It’s not just Keith who can’t get enough waves, but, yeah, it is Keith. I get it. I understand how, while getting a few mediocre rides will cause any real surfer to keep going until he or she gets a pretty good ride on a really good wave, or a really good ride on a pretty good wave, or even a really good ride on a shitty-ish wave; getting a really good ride on a really good wave will not necessarily cause him or her to say, “Yes, Tim, that was as good as I can hope for during this particular session, and I believe I will now go home.”
NO. Especially not Keith. Even without factoring in that Tim might get an even better wave, possibly from deeper, or that Tim might… NO, enough is rarely enough.
I have noticed that supposedly surfed-out surfers can suddenly spring back to life and compete fiercely for waves when… No it isn’t just when I go out, late in the latest swell window, but, yeah then. And I have been on the other side of that; back out for just a couple more because Chris Erdley missed my best rides, and, hey, I can still make it to Costco before it closes.
ALSO in my cell phone conversation with Tim, we discussed, as surfers do, past sessions. As you, as an avid reader of realsurfers, are aware, I have been ready to break my resolution to not surf until I have my submission package for “Swamis” ready to go. NO, I actually said I would have to have the novel’s third or twentieth polish/edit done. Backtracking. WELL, now I’m almost there on the submission, and totally desperate to get in the water. I’d be stoked,, rocks and boils and chop and all, to surf something like the wave in the photo, and, after twenty or thirty rides, I would be ready to… no, I pretty much stay until the waves go away for any one of several known reasons, I break a fin, or I just have to get somewhere else (not always Costco) and I’ve run out of time.
AND, HEY, what do you do when your first ride in a session is quite possibly going to be your best?
But, if you do happen to see me paddling out, please bear in mind I’m kind of… hungry. Next time, something on ADAM WIPEOUT that isn’t actually about that one wipeout I keep promising to write about.
There have been only two times in my life that I have watched the television all day long. This shouldn’t be a tough guess: 9/11/2001 and 01/06/21. So, with the impeachment of the titular head of the Trump Insurrection continuing today in the U.S. Senate; the result has been pre-determined by minds pre-set or programed to set aside the duties assigned any and all elected representatives of us, of we the people.
Again, not a tough guess; you know the numbers necessary to convict.
So far, after blocks and votes and dodges and procedural delays, the actual event has been a trial with evidence aplenty and courage a scarcity. It is obvious courage is a scarce commodity. While donor/sponsor/tribe loyalties are commodities, bought and saved, sold or traded to a higher bidder; and while ethics and integrity are regularly exchanged for power; courage is rare; but, we know it when we see it.
We recognize courage. We value courage. We, we the people, are witnesses. Put me on that sad fucking list.
ALL RIGHT, I apologize for, again, posting something that is not about surfing.
I woke up one morning, October of 1962. I was eleven. My mother had, evidently, not gone to bed. Or she got up really early. TV stations, in those days, generally shut down in the middle of the night. “We might be on the brink of nuclear war, Junior,” she said, or something similar… same message. It was the Cuban Missile Crisis. Trish remembers it because her father, a materiel officer with the US Marine Corps, was whisked away in the middle of the night, and was gone for the thirteen days before Russia and Cuba backed down.
I was ten years old on February 20, 1962, when an AV (audio/visual for those who have never seen one) cart was wheeled into the classroom so we fifth graders could all watch John Glen orbit the earth three times in a space capsule. First American! Momentous! Yea, Us!
I cannot honestly say I saw Kennedy assassinated or Oswald killed, though they were both televised. My neighbor, Gary Schuyler, a kid about my age (12 in 1963) did watch the funeral train, came outside, crying, with an update. I was pulling weeds in the rose garden, required to earn a chance to go to the beach. I questioned why Gary was so concerned. “Because… it’s important.”
Television has made us all witnesses to history.
On 9/11, Dan Nieman, a local contractor in Quilcene, called me up… not all that unusual for him, at somewhere around 5:30, something about a job. He passed on the message, and I just recently found this out, an ex-military client of his, calm by Dan’s description, had already called him, frantically blurting out, “Do you see what’s happening?” I turned on the TV in time to see the plane hit the second tower. And everything that followed.
On 01/06, I returned home early from a job, though I had been listening on the radio to the events surrounding the certification of the election. Trish had just turned on the TV, asked what was going on with the people just starting to push at the barricades in front of the capitol. “Oh,” I said, “The coup is on.”
Something I noticed is that many of the folks marching down the street from the demonstration in which the (still, at that point) President promised to “be there with you” (but, of course, wasn’t), citizens who looked like your neighbors, regular folks; once they saw the thing was getting out of hand, most of those people turned away, did not participate in the murder and mayhem, were not part of that mob.
Good for them.
We have had, thanks to the strategic delays, time; not enough to put it behind us and move on as defenders and deniers would like; but enough time to get little bios on the perpetrators, more information on the tactics and the damage; enough time for evidence enough to convince anyone still unbiased of the proximity to a tipping point that our country was at on that day.
So. Courage. At first look, the Capitol cop who was chased up the stairs by the mob did not appear to be a hero. Now we know he was. I will still give points to Mike Pence for getting the Constitutionally mandated task completed. Points have to be given for Representatives and Senators who crossed lines to certify votes, or to cast votes to get beyond all the procedural blocks and dodges.
Oh; it’s 9:26, the Trump Insurrection trial is back on, live; should you chose to watch. I have to go, but I do have a radio.
I got a comment from Bob DAVIS; it showed up in my e-mail, with a request to moderate, as in Approve, Disapprove, send to junkmail, or hell, or to just send it to trash.
I hit ‘approve.’ BOB’S comment is somewhere on realsurfers.net. It may show up under comments on my “About” dealie, originally written in 2013 when I started realsurfers, MOSTLY to tell parts of the same story that I was trying to tell in a screenplay, “Afternoon Glass-Off” (probably could have dropped the ‘off’ part), aka “Inside Break.” The story is from pretty much the same time and place in which “Swamis” is set; late sixties, Southern California.
I highlighted ‘mostly,’ above, because, after 24 years in the Great Pacific Northwest, I was, at that time part way through another chapter in my surfing life, here. NOW, in the beginning, I didn’t realize the danger in romanticizing the Northwest surfing scene, and, in particular the surf on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I did name some surf locations, early on, did SUGGEST there might be waves… rarely. If surfing has blown up in Washington State, and folks continue to search out and be disappointed at known surf spots, it really can’t be blamed on my esoteric, no where near viral little blog.
BUT, if realsurfers is important enough for BOB DAVIS to write a comment, here, BOB, is your moment:
Hi, Please take down your posts about the surfing in the pacific northwest, purely out of respect for people who live here. We only get to surf good waves a few times a year, so if we have to deal with people coming up from California or elsewhere to get our waves that we only get a few times a year. first off, it makes no sense that they would want to come on a surf trip to a colder place, but also it is a fickle place and risk that chance of wasting their plane ticket doesn’t make sense to me. Why go to surf someone’s home that only breaks a few times a year when you could go to other more consistent surf breaks and not ruin someone’s life? This is just not okay from a moral standpoint. Please consider peoples’ lives and stop colonizing places.
HERE, BOB DAVIS is your answer: NO.
OH, and BOB, thanks for checking out realsurfers.net. If you happen to see me on one of the few times a year you get a few decent (and, wait, you did kind of admit there are rideable waves hereabouts) waves (and I am kind of recognizable- old guy, fucked up knees), say “Hi.”
This is the continuation of the last story posted. I had already moved it from the “Swamis” manuscript to the “Sideslipping” file, mostly for space. I really enjoy including the little side stories, dramas with characters not necessary for the plot. BUT, I can’t include them all. This outtake makes more sense if you read the last one, of course.
NOT EVEN IRONIC
“We’re going to, um, kind of… hang out,” Phillip said, he and Ray each with a girl next to them, all of them buzzing with that spinning, churning, barely controlled (at best) teenage electricity.
“Guess I’m not stayin’ over,” Billy B said, pretty much to me. “What’re we going to do, Jody?”
It’s not even ironic that Billy B and I got rides to our respective homes in Grant’s car, me in the front seat, riding ‘bitch’ (this pointed out to me by Grant with a, “Yeah, you can ride with me, if you don’t mind ridin’ bitch”). Bigger Billy was riding shotgun, Billy B over the driveline in the back seat, also, evidently riding bitch.
“We went looking for girls… and fights, in the home bleachers,” Bigger Billy said, beer breath directly in my face.
“Shut up, man.” That was from one or both of the two other guys in the back seat (may have been Mark and another one of the Billys, can’t say for certain), one of them adding, “Bigger Billy G paid for the beer” as a sort of explanation as to why he was there at all.
“We threw empty bottles out the windows on the way back, Jody. Yeah!”
One of the backseat revelers said, “Could you please shut the fuck up?”
“Hey, Dickwad DeFreines,” Grant said as we turned off Mission, “Mr. Dewey’s soooo freaked out. What’da’ya think he’ll… do? I mean; he knows my parents.”
“No, he’s… wait; he knows your father and (emphasis on the ‘and’) your mother?”
This drew some appreciative ‘ewwws’ from the backseat, and a “Fuck you” from Grant.
“You pissed in the parking lot,” I said to Bigger Billy G when he got out to let me out at the head of my driveway.
“Oh, yeah,” he said, “I did.” When the three other doors opened, Bigger Billy G took another piss just in front of the front passenger door. “Beer,” he said as Grant urinated in front of the driver’s side door. I walked past the newly planted orange trees as the other guys looked around for a proper place to whiz.
When a yard light up by the house suddenly turned on, the group scattered. Billy G pushed Billy B aside, jumped into the shotgun position, but Billy B stuffed himself onto the seat, forcing the other Billy over. “Who’s the bitch now?” he asked, an arm out past the other front seat Billy and out the window, three hands flipping me off as they peeled away, Grant tapping on the horn. Shave and a haircut…
SO, I KEEP HEARING RUMORS of waves. I had to run to a hardware store for a mop in a tipped-over-plant painting emergency, guy ahead of me (and most of us are difficult to recognize in masks- not me, evidently) turned and asked if I’d “been out lately.” “Not… lately lately. Recently.” “Oh, it’s been pumping.” “Oh? How do you know?” “I’ve been out… there.” “Where?” This is when he gets (properly) cagey. “Um, you know, the ocean.” “Yeah, I’ve heard of it, but, um, uh, who are you? Masks, you know.” “Yeah; I’m James.” He did give me his last name, which I’ve forgotten, said he and I have surfed together and that he’s a friend of Stephen Davis. “Haven’t seen him around lately.” “Oh, he’s been in Hawaii… for a while.” Surfing, somewhere, you know, in the ocean.
YES, I DID PROMISE to write about Adam Wipeout’s epic wipeout, but, since he told me he was cutting back on surfing to spend more time with his kids, and then went to the mountains with them for, like four or five days (and there’s some connection with Yodeling Dan here, some reciprocation for taking Yodeling Dan to semi-secret surf locations), and then, the very next day, he’s out searching for waves. THIS AFTER I told him I’m backing off on surf searching until I actually finish the final (before trying to sell it) draft of “Swamis.” AND THEN, AND ALSO, Little Reggie Smart, who also said he was cutting back, did complete four days in a row in which he found waves, each time taunting me with, “You would have loved it, Dude,” a line he has borrowed from other surf friends of mine.
SO, PROMISES. I will be sneaking into a surf spot soon; sooner if, as others have, I back out… hey, it wasn’t really like a real promise; if I just think of it as a resolution… I mean, who has enough resolve to not surf?
I have known for a while that I would have to cut this chapter from my novel, “Swamis.” It doesn’t move the ever-tighter, ever more focused plot along enough, Grant Murdoch is not an important enough character to be given this much, um, attention; AND, despite cutting somewhere around 70,000 words, the manuscript keeps creeping up and over my self-set limit of 120,000 words.
SO, to put you in the place where I tried to make this fit; Joey is talked into going out drinking with his friends, then hanging out at the high school. Rusty McAndrews, mentioned here, is more of a critical character. Part of my original reasoning for including this was that it helps to illustrate that Joey, aka Jody, still has an ability to quickly and violently strike out when he feels threatened.
THE BASIS for the story is one that I did not witness, merely heard about; a guy who would pretend to have an epileptic seizure; roll around… the whole show. That I found that shocking (and that others I’ve mentioned it to aren’t nearly as disturbed) says… hey, I don’t know what it says.
I should restate that my real life friends, some of whom (Ray and Phillip in particular) have characters named after them, actually did very few of the things their namesakes do in “Swamis.” They did, however, do some. Erwin is also a character, mostly so readers don’t think I am Jody. However it is true that the real Phillip and Ray and Erwin, maybe Bill Buel, did get skateboarding shut down at Fallbrook High, or, at least, we take credit for it. Oh, and the urine stream, Bill Birt. I have written about him in realsurfers.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11, 1968
Not cutting this chapter must be defended. I would rather not do either.
It was kind of a deal during football season, a bad-boy tradition, evidently. Some of my friends would tell their parents they were taking the rooter bus to an away game, go somewhere and drink some beer, smoke some marijuana; and return to Fallbrook High when the bus returned. See who went, see who won. Fun. Bad-boy adventure.
Fun while trying to attain that exact level of intoxication where your contemporaries would recognize it, but the teachers and chaperones, grownups, wouldn’t. Or that was how the evening had been sold to me. Fun. I was pretty-much sober; a bit pissed-off and quite uncomfortable, the irritability from an incident at their drinking/lookout spot, the discomfort because this wasn’t my kind of scene.
We’d arrived at the school a bit too early, Phillip and Ray and Billy B (one of the Billys) and I were leaning on or walking around Ray’s car; parked, parallel to the street, lights on and engine running, doors open, on the asphalt parking lot that sloped down from the school to the road in front of the cafeteria/gym. Music was coming from his tape deck. Cream. “White Room,” from “Wheels of Fire,” Ray’s pick for a perfect song. Some parents, there to pick up their kids, had waited long enough that they’d turn off their engines.
“Maybe it went into overtime,” Ray said.
“Orange Glen,” Billy B said; “Fuck, man, we could have gone there and back by now.”
“No. No. We’d have missed the fun.” Phillip looked at me, punched his left palm with his right hand, “Joey punching out Rusty fucking McAndrews.”
Ray and Billy B looked at me. I wasn’t amused. They were. “I should have taken the Falcon. Escape vehicle.”
Billy B jumped between Ray and me and made a couple of hodad/kook surf moves. “We have to get going early enough tomorrow to beat the weekend crowds, huh Ray?” No response. He looked at me. “Huh, Joey?” When I didn’t respond, he jumped over next to Phillip. “Huh, Phil?”
“Yeah, Billy B, early.”
Billy B came a bit too close to me. “I was going to stay over at Phil’s, but, hey, let’s just get our boards and shit and fuckin’ head out after the bus comes back. Sleep on the beach and…”
“Nope. And, please quit breathing on me. Huh?”
Ray pushed Billy B away from me. “We’ll get you home, Joey. Jeez; you’ll be a fucking hero once word gets out about…” Ray did a fake punch toward my chest, backed away quickly, one hand protecting his face, the other his chest. Phillip and Billy B laughed. My friends’ faces were still glowing, as if the beer added a certain piss-orange color to their cheeks, and they were all still a bit unsteady. “McAndrews; never liked him… or his younger brother.”
“And, wait… his brother…” Now Phillip was too close to me. “Is he the guy you slammed into the…?”
“Water fountain,” Ray said. “Yeah. Yeah, he was. Sixth grade. It was, like, my second week in Fallbrook and Joey’s knocking people’s teeth out. Whoa. Pretty scary!”
“There’s the first bus,” I said. We could see the lights; headlights, interior lights; unmistakably two buses, across the lower fields, over on the highway. Highway? I never thought of it as more than a road. Two lane road heading west, toward the ocean.
Though the road was probably three hundred yards away, it was close enough that we could hear honking. Suddenly a car raced around both buses, pulled back in, very close to a car coming from the opposite direction. More horns, this time including a long blaring honk from the lead bus, and a ‘shave and a haircut… two bits’ series of honks from the car, now slowing down considerably, leading the busses.
Billy B said, “Whoa!” Phillip said, “Fucking idiots.” Ray said, “Grant Murdoch. For sure.”
It was a minute or so before Grant Murdoch’s mother’s car came into view around the school buildings, tires squealing, then squeaking as it turned from the rougher road to the slicker parking area, horn honking.
That parking lot, with its shallow drop toward the gym, and the sidewalks around the school buildings, were perfect for skateboarding if it had been allowed. it wasn’t formally disallowed until Phillip, Ray, Erwin, and I slalomed on the sidewalks one hot afternoon, August 1967- busted by some summer school substitute teacher.
The overlarge American four-door circled the four of us, backed up against Ray’s car; all four of its occupants flipping us off. The car was parked, slightly uphill of us, parallel to the approach road, cigarette smoke coming out of the open windows, music louder than Ray’s 4 track, engine revving. The Doors; “Summer’s Almost Gone,” as I remember, from “Waiting for the Sun.”
Reasonable; sure; we were still huge Doors fans; self-disenfranchised suburban teenage males.
And, sure, we knew these particular idiots. This was their version of a Friday night adventure. They had gone to the game at Orange Glen, looked for a fight on the bleachers, threw empty bottles out the windows on the highways and roads between Valley Center and Fallbrook. Fun.
One of the idiots, another of the Billys, Billy G, sometimes referred to as Bigger Billy, jumped out of the backseat, uphill side, leaned in toward the car in the area between the opened door and the trunk area.
“Urine,” Ray said, as a stream came from under the car and down the asphalt.
“Billy fucking G,” Billy B said, laughing and pointing, “He’s fuckin’ pissing.” His voice got louder. “Go, Bigger Billy! Shit; that’s a quart, at least.”
To help with any Billy confusion, Billy B-2, mentioned earlier, had, by this time, moved away; his father transferred to Twenty-nine Palms.
“Here’s the bus,” Phillip said, waving at a girl about halfway back on the still-moving vehicle, her arm out a window, more pointing than waving, pointing at something past Phillip, past us.
Seconds later, more students were pointing.
It was Grant. Grant Murdoch. He had fallen out of the driver’s door and onto the pavement (just out of the urine stream), and was convulsing, rolling around, his body spasming. His compatriots were gathering around him, turning to the advancing parents, appealing for help, as the second bus arrived, with the team; and kids and chaperones and teachers from the buses started unloading.
Billy B seemed concerned, ran toward Grant. Phillip and Ray looked at me. “Fucking Grant,” Ray said, putting out an arm to try to stop me from walking toward the big car.
Phillip said, “Not worth it, Joey; don’t…”
Members of the Big Car Idiot Crew, each of the three near Grant, and then Billy B, were yelling; “Help him, help him!” “He’ll swallow his tongue!” “Oh, my God!”
Grant had just been flipped onto his back when I got to him, foamy spittle coming out of his mouth, eyes fluttering. I stood over him for a second before I put my foot on his throat.
“Good evening, Grant,” I said, calmly. Sort of calmly.
A grownup grabbed me by one arm, another on the other arm, pulled me back.
I resisted. “What? What!”
“What the hell do you mean, ‘what?’” It was Martha Dewey’s dad on my right arm. “You think because of your father you can get away with this… this… (lowering his voice) shit.”
“Please let me go, Mr. Dewey,” I said. I thought it more a demand than a request. “Sir.”
Grant Murdoch rolled to his side, then to his stomach, and leapt to his feet with amazing speed.
“What?” That was Mr. Dewey, still holding my arm after the other grownup had let go.
“I didn’t know you were here, Jody,” Grant said, trying to wipe the spittle off his chin with two other dads holding him, more in a supportive way, before he shook himself loose. “Sorry, man. Just for fun, you know.”
While some parents were pulling their children away from this scene, Mrs. Dewey and Martha were among a group headed our way. I looked at Mr. Dewey, his hand still on my arm. I gave him a look that I meant as a reference to the alcohol on his breath, made a motion to suggest he should look at the lipstick on the collar of his white dress shirt.
I believed he got the messages. He looked at his wife and daughter, approaching, then at me. He released his grip, stepped between Grant and me, started to say something to Grant; something like, “You’ve got some nerve, young man…”
Grant Murdoch threw up. Some beer, maybe some pizza, God knows what else. Most of what Grant threw up got on Mr. Dewey.
There were brief cheers from some of the nearby high school boys, bolder cheers from a couple of the out-of-high school guys who hadn’t yet found another place to hang out on a Friday night.
“You got Lucky, Mr. Dewey,” I said, smiling at my own cleverness; all the more clever in that Mr. Dewey completely understood it. “Martha. Mrs. Dewey,” I said to Martha and Mrs. Dewey as I passed them.
I kind of think, when Trump said he’d be marching with you, his beloved fans, his base, and people so enthralled you are probably contributors to his continued campaign; you believed him. Then you and he would walk, hand-in-hand, Trump flags flying, down Pennsylvania Avenue to stop the steal of… whatever it is he’s convinced you was ruthlessly ripped away from him and his gang/clan. Instead, the Prez slipped out the back, stumbled (because of the bone spurs, as you remember, poor guy) got in his armored car, picked up his McDonalds order, and cruised on down to his gold-plated bunker deep under the White House. Meanwhile all ya’ll, busily taking selfies with cops and listening to the mob leaders on their megaphones, recognizable because of their really cool outfits, decided it would be something else to tell the folks back home if you accepted their invitation to go up the stairs of the Capitol Building, then inside, and, wait… after they cart out the woman who got shot, you’re suddenly inside the Senate chambers; and, whoa, all the Senators and folks are gone. What? Are they scared of fellow Americans?
Now, somewhere in the next few hours, kinda not knowing what to do but take more selfies, you no doubt, expected Don to drop in, using only one hand, on a line from Marine One, his massive chest muscles flexed, a Bible in the other hand, and a look of confidence bordering on righteousness on his face.
Meanwhile, and I am not trying to say that I, in any way understand the thinking of anyone who actually believes any fucking thing our outgoing Huckster-in-chief says (not like outgoing in a friendly sense- outgoing as in out the door), but it has been noted, and noticed, that the police response to the rioters was not particularly ‘strident.’ I have, in fact, been subjected to a harsher push back after a Jethro Tull concert, not to mention getting kicked off the beach twice- way rougher. Now the Jethro Tull thing was particularly troubling and irritating because I had paid good money for the tickets. OH, you do understand that. One explanation/excuse for the softball initial response was that a big military style putdown, the kind that’s saved for Black Lives Matter marches and people who are in the way when Donny wants a photo op, is that getting harsh with overweight white people might create a martyr or two… so politely escorting folks to safety was the tactic de jour. After all, a majority of the mob members looked like people one might see at the local grocery store.
Then again, things could have gotten way more deadly than they did.
Yeah, well; since I’ve been unable to move too far from the TV, switching channels occasionally, binge-watching a sad but historic day, and reminding anyone reading that I would much rather write about real surfers actually surfing, let me say this: I feel sorry for people who are, forever, insurrectionists, part of a failed coup attempt by a loser. That, in itself, doesn’t mean you’re a loser. Go ahead, think you’re real Americans. Trump loves you. I heard him say so before he got deleted on Facebook and Twitter, not that I’d follow him there… or anywhere.
Incidentally, do you know how to tell when Trumpo (Aussie style nickname) is lying?
No, didn’t think so.
Unfortunately, what some might think is backlash is the status quo ’round these parts. Good luck.
I’m still polishing the manuscript for my novel, “Swamis.” A lot of what I am doing is trying to cut out pages, lines, even words that don’t progress the story. The story.
THE STORY has changed considerably since I started the project. THE TRUTH is that this project, realsurfers, was an attempt to tell the larger story of surfing in a particular time, the late 1960s, Southern California; the draft, Vietnam, various revolutions in music, surfboard design, human rights; there’s a lot to cover. NOW I have a story and I’m trying to make all the parts, all the characters and plot twists seem REAL.
I don’t want to post pages that I cut because I rewrote them, improved upon what I am offering you. Rather, I will only post outtakes because they no longer fit in the trimmed-down, story driven manuscript. ACTUALLY, there are still sidetrips I will not be able to cut.
In rereading this passage, I do have to admit that it’s Joseph DeFreines channeling me. The fiction part is that his father was a cop, killed in a mystery among mysteries. SO:
Sure. Surfing is sexy, coolness illustrated; pirate/rebels washed clean.
Coolness, hipness; we adapt our lives, change our speech patterns, make different choices in clothing and music and attitude as we discover new, and, if not better, more modern things, newer new things; trends, fashions.
The very word, fashion, describes its temporary nature. Subtext. That fashion goes in and out is given to the user of the word for free.
We steal, borrow, incorporate. The strands are pretty obvious; like blues to jazz, blues to rock and roll, blues coopted by popular AM music. If you were born in the 1950s, you heard Sinatra and Chuck Berry on the same AM station; experienced the Beatles, then Dylan. No, you probably got Dylan through Dylan covers, Peter Paul and Mary, the Byrds; then Dylan, then… whatever was fashionable. Temporary.
THE REAL DYLAN
We, my Fallbrook contemporaries, suburban teenage males, isolated from the big cities, behind the times; we were Doors fans. Of course. My friends bought the albums. Garage bands played extended versions of ‘Light My Fire’ at sock hops and VFW dances. When tape players came out, some of my friends had them installed in the cars their parents handed down to them. Or bought for them. Four trac, then 8; Three Dog Night and Jimi Hendrix.
Somehow, I held on to the songs from the 78s my parents owned, surprisingly varied, with jazz, husband and wife duos, black torch singers, Nat King Cole. I remembered tunes from musicals in my mom’s LP stash, “Oklahoma” and “South Pacific.” They had LPs, 33 1/3rd, Johnny Mathis and The Everly Brothers. I didn’t want doo wop or bubblegum pop, I wanted to hear the real Dylan. Dylan was in the magazines, angry young man, voice of a generation; why wasn’t he on the radio?
Dylan was certainly not on KCPQ, the station my friends in Junior High went on about. KCPQ advertised pimple cream and played Beatle songs for portable radios, songs sung in the hallways by hormone-strained voices, guys suddenly affecting English accents. There were sanitized versions of Dylan; but no Dylan. I didn’t want more Chad and Jeremy, more Herman’s Hermits.
Someone dropped a clue, something heard by overhearing an older brother. There was a station from San Diego, KPRI, FM (for god’s sake), that played whole albums; radical, underground music. I could barely get it, but I tried, over in the corner of my bedroom, while I studied, wrote; edited and typed-up other people’s term papers (for a fee); another detached, isolated, suburban (almost rural, really) teenager.
KPRI, as close to tuned in as I could get it, still had that grainy, scratchy, ringing-in-the-ear background. I tried. I persisted. I listened. That it was difficult to tune into made it better. Way better. FM, for god’s sake.
Channel 9, from Santa Barbara, was a similar, hard-to-tune-in mystery. With Ray on the roof moving the antenna, Phillip at the window, and me at the TV set, we tried to get “Surf’s Up.” It was listed in the Fallbrook-specific TV Guide; and, at best, we almost saw, or barely saw, some footage of Trestles, a legendary break, peeling. The only audio we could hear was, “peeling like a washing machine.”
That barely-there-ness only added to the appropriateness. “Peeling like a washing machine” became, briefly, our phrase for a perfect wave on an imperfect day. Rare, peeling…
“We’re going,” the slow-speaking voice (opposite of am radio) of a possibly-stoned KPRI disc jockey would say, “to go in the back room and get our heads together (background chuckles); so, here’s Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding.” Sound of inhalation, extended version.
Appropriate. Black-and-white, scratchy-grainy TV, whispered songs with tinnitus backgrounds.
When I got my first tape player, 4 plus 4, capable of playing four and eight trac tapes; and stolen, as previously mentioned, traded for fifteen bucks and some homemade sandwiches (and a promise for more) in the school parking lot, installed (rather, wired) by a guy (can’t remember his name) who told me I, my dad being an asshole and a cop and all, should have known it was stolen. I bought some on-sale tapes at the Buy-and-Save market: Laura Nyro, Leonard Cohen, “Aerial Ballet” by Harry Nilsson.
“What’s that shit?” One of my friends would ask.
“Good music,” I would say.
Yeah, I had some Doors, Hendrix; often wondered if I really liked them more than the Moody Blues. When Led Zeppelin came out, I just avoided it. Or tried. Orgasmic rock. All these years later, KPRI is probably sports or talk or playing new age country/western, and there is no classic or hardrock station that can go an hour without playing something from Led Zep.
Orgasmic rock I called it. Hated Led Zeppelin, but I still know most of their songs.
Somewhere in those years, I lost my California coastal accent. Or, maybe I just thought I had. It comes back sometimes. “Oh, I see; you don’t like a-vo-caaa-do.”
Now that Stephen R. Davis is kind of settling into Big Island life, and has made progress toward, possibly, becoming what he referred to another surfer over there, a “Haole Local,” I speak with him less regularly than when he was over here on the crookedy corner of the contiguous states. I mean, like, really, what do I have to say, surfwise? King tides and southwest swells and skunkings and underwater gravel migration that cuts a wave-killing channel through my favorite reef? Mean-muggers and packs of high-fiving white guys on SUPs who, obviously, got their training chasing ferry boats? How the number of new surfers add to the Olympic Peninsula demographic of most frustrated surfers per hundred thousand?
Yeah, the usual stuff, plus, since it’s this time of year where every surf trip starts AND ends in the dark, and the political shenanigans continue, unabated, as does the virus, and the unavoidably (except by Congress) obvious toll the pandemic has taken on regular folks (for example- several Port Angeles restaurants in business the 42 years I’ve been here have for sale signs in front of them) continues to rise; and, oh yeah; it’s Christmas time, which, if I had my choice, would take place in August when I actually have some money for presents (my kids don’t call me the Christmas Dick because I seem particularly jolly)… so, again, just the usual stuff is going on in my life, making it extra pleasant to get a call from Stephen R. Davis.
Steve called me to say he’d gotten redemption at a sketchy break that features a dry-reef-takeoff, a couple of cruisy sections, and an opportunity to get barreled or pummeled. We did talk after an earlier session in which one of the non-Haole locals said something that Steve understood, but, with him using the pidgin pronunciation, left me with no clue as to what he was talking about, even when I made him repeat it. But, placing it in context, because, when he looked around, all the other surfers were heading for shore, I’m guessing the phrase probably meant something like, “The tide’s too low, Haole.”
Now I imagine Steve nodding, as if he understood the implications, but staying out for an uncontested wave of two.
As I said, this time, with some water on the reef, Steve, who says, with the opportunity to surf consistently, he is surfing better than he ever has, and he was already a very good surfer; this time… redemption.
WAIT! I was just watching some pipeline footage and suddenly reef that Steve said he was doing the outfit with the two hands in the wave face, meaning one hand behind him. “Wait,” I exclaimed ( or asked, perhaps- less dramatic), “you mean like Clay Matzo at Honolua Bay?” “Yes. ” “So, you Marzoed?” ” Guess so. ” “Okay.”
Steve sent me a few photos. This one is a little beefcake-ish and buttcrack-ey, and he says it isn’t him, though he claims he can’t remember the name of the guy and, although I just don’t know of that many people who have that much fucking hair (and I have seen some Stephen Davis wannabes).
It’s a bit interesting to me that I’m working on this while considering how much weight a 4/3 full wetsuit adds to a surfer, that with a one mil vest (with hood) and booties, all of which take in and hold a certain amount of saltwater and/or urine (no, not the hood, urine-wise); and that I have two baggies of assorted chocolates on a side table, and a selection of seasonal cookies easily available; and that working on finishing my novel “Swamis,” (self promotion here) and whatever else I’m doing from a chair that can recline if I’m too tired to sit upright is not exactly like burning calories.
I did mention the Christmas Dick thing.
Anyway, and not just because I have some free (as in no one is paying me for it) time, I will, soon, post some photos my friend and contemporary Tom Burns sent me illustrating a trip some of his friends took to the channel at Mavericks on that recent day, best in years, you are probably already familiar with. But, just because my sister Suellen sent me this, I may as well include a shot of our dad, Suellen, me, and my next sister down, Mary Jane, en route from Surf City, North Carolina to San Diego, December 1953.
Merry Christmas; try not to be a (not a sexist comment- I’m talking behaviorally) dick; in or out of the water; and, for godsake, Steve or non-Steve, tighten up those boardshorts!
My novel, “Swamis,” keeps growing, keeps reaching past ‘novel’ to ‘epic novel’ length. I keep editing it, deleting stuff, then, tightening and polishing and making sure all the little moves are clear; it just keeps rolling past the 120k word zone, that fictional border that keeps a fictional story at a readable length.
Yeah, and as much as it hurts me to cut chapters, with where I am, so close to an ending that keeps evading me in the rewriting and editing, I definitely need to cut a couple of thousand words. SO, I keep moving them to the backup, shadow story, labeled “Sideslipping” on my laptop. I have published some of these on realsurfers, and, if I can swing the computer moves, I will stick some ‘edits,’ don’t want to call them ‘deleted scenes,’ here. MAYBE ‘deleted scenes’ is acceptable.
The following is actually two big outtakes. Remember, though there is a lot of actual people and real events included in “Swamis,” this is fiction. I transplanted my best surfing friends Phillip and Ray into situations that never happened, stuck myself in there, too, mostly so readers don’t think I am Jody. I am not. And, yeah, it’s a lot of words to delete; still not enough:
SIDESLIPPING- OUTTAKES FROM “SWAMIS”
Here we go:
Someone I met much later, a former member of the La Jolla/Windansea group, ten years or so older than me; old enough to have dived for abalone and lobster; old enough to have ridden a new balsa wood board, said, of surfing in his era, “We just sort of plowed.”
When I switched from surf mats to boards, in 1965, diving for and selling abalone and ‘bugs’ (lobster) for cash was already over; being a ‘true waterman’ was no longer a priority. This only added to the mystique. There was a certain reverence, respect, held by surfers of the “Everybody goes surfing, surfing U.S.A.” era for the members of that post-war generation; beatnik/hotrod/rock n’ roll/pre-Gidget/rebellious/outsider/loner surfers plowing empty waves.
That is, for those (of us) who actually gave a shit.
Tamarack was obvious; one peak in front of the bathrooms on the bluff, a bit of a channel; a parking lot at beach level. Good place to learn; sit on the shoulder; wait, watch, study; move toward the peak; a bit closer with each session. Get yelled at; get threatened; learn.
Eventually, if you wanted to improve, you would have to challenge yourself to ride bigger waves, beachbreaks with no channel, tough paddle outs. You would have to learn to hold tightly to the board’s rails, your arms loose enough to move with the violence of a breaking wave. If you wanted to surf the best waves, the set waves, even at Tamarack, you would eventually have to challenge a better-than-you surfer for a wave.
Chapter Eight- Thursday, March 20, 1969
Phillip and Ray lead the discussion about the murder and the excitement. There was a bigger than usual crowd at the big concrete planter boxes, designed with seating all around, trees and bark inside them. The break was called ‘nutrition,’ between second and third periods, and there were two trailers set up where nutritious snacks like orange-sickles and twinkies could be purchased.
Mostly Ray was talking, with Phillip adding key points, and Erwin looking out for any nearby teachers. Mark and Dipshit Dave and three of the Billys were there. I was in my usual spot, standing in the planter, observing, listening. Some of the local toughs and the cooler non-surfers were, unusually, part of this day’s group; listening; more friends of friends of Ray and Phil.
Two of the Rich Kids came over from the Senior Area. Mike, who had been my best friend up until third grade, jumped up next to me on the planter. “Missed the excitement, huh Joey?”
“Guess so, Mikey.”
I had already heard the story. My mind was somewhere else.
“Um, hey; Joey; you know…” I knew what Mike wanted to say. “We’re still; you know, friends.” He tapped me on the chest, tapped his own. “It’s just… your dad. Sorry.”
I tapped Mike on his chest, three times, held up a flat palm between us, went back to being somewhere else.
In our freshman year, the most crowd-centric of several big concrete planters became the pre-school, break, and lunchtime hangout for the entire crew of Freshmen surfers (as far as we knew); Erwin and Phillip and me. With the administrative building behind it, the gymnasium/cafeteria downhill, most of the classrooms to the west, and a bit of shade provided by the trees, it was a good place for observing while still laying low, avoiding… avoiding the other students; the older students in particular; but also any awkward interactions with girls and rich kids and new kids who had gone to other Junior high schools, Pauma Valley (East, toward Palomar Mountain) and Camp Pendleton (West) and Bonsall (Southwest) and Rainbow and Temecula (Northeast).
Temecula. In my senior year, 1969, there were four or five kids from there; three were siblings; two Hanks sisters, one brother. These days, if people don’t know where Fallbrook is, they have heard of Temecula. Big city. “Yeah, sure, Temecula; out on The 15.”
Putting “The” in front of the name of highways came later, along with traffic helicopters and rush hour destination forecasts. Later.
I-15 was Highway 395 then, and Temecula was, often, twisted into Tim-meh-cu’-la; not for any good reason except, perhaps, it was more inland, farther East than Fallbrook, Fallbrook, a town that self-identified (with signage) as “The Friendly Village;” but was nicknamed, in a self-deprecating way, Frog-butt.
Again, the planter was a good place to observe the daily run of mostly manufactured dramas, crushes and romances and slights and breakups, from. High ground. The planter offered a good view of the slatted, backless wooden benches where the sociable girls, this clique and that one, sat (one or two sitting, two or three standing), in groupings established through some mysterious sort of class/status jockeying, some girls able to move from one group to another; some not.
The planter was adjacent to the Senior Area, a sort of skewed rectangle of grass and concrete with covered picnic tables. This chunk of real estate was off limits and jealously guarded, mostly by guys in red Warriors letterman jackets, against intruders; though any senior who made any effort to appear cool (particularly when talking with underclass girls) would feel obligated to say the exclusivity of the senior area was no big deal to him.
Girls. Yeah, the planter was a good place to observe girls, some I’d known since kindergarten. Changing. So quickly. Heartbeat by heartbeat. Girls. So mysterious.
It’s not that I didn’t try to understand how a (comparatively) poor girl with a great personality could be in with three rich girls, at least one of whom was totally bitchy (I mean ‘slightly difficult, quite mean, and unreasonably demanding,’ but I would have meant and said bitchy back then). I figured it was because they knew each other before we figured out whose parents had more money than whose (ours).
Phillip was new when we were freshmen. He had come from Orange County; but he had done some surfing and his older sister was going out with a guy who was definitely one of Fallbrook High’s four or five real surfers. Phillip and I shared a couple of classes. I’d known Erwin since kindergarten. He was a Seventh Day Adventist, which was, he explained, “Kind of like Christians following Jewish traditions.” “Oh, so that’s why you’re not supposed to surf on Saturdays?” “It’s the Sabbath. Holy. Sundown Friday until sundown Saturday.” “Too bad.” “Well; we have gone to, um, Doheny; somewhere we wouldn’t run into anyone from, you know, here.” “Oh?” “Yeah; hypocrisy and guilt. If surfing isn’t, you know, actually sinful…” “Oh, but you know it is.” “Sure is.”
Erwin was one of the only Adventists at our school, and he started board surfing right after junior high; about the same time I did; when his sister, Suellen, beguiled by “Gidget” movies and an episode of “Dr. Kildare,” probably (no doubt, actually); got herself a used surfboard and let her brother borrow it.
Sinful, yes; addictive, undoubtedly. I once, early September, just after school started, saw Erwin sitting on his sister’s board, toward the channel of the lineup. Sunday. Tamarack. It wasn’t big, really, maybe a little bigger than had been average over the summer.
“You’re in the channel, Erwin.” “So?” Closer to the peak meant closer to the crowd. We challenged each other, had to go. We both paddled, over and out; and sat, anxiously, outside of where the waves were breaking, watching other surfers, from the back, take all the waves. When a set wave showed up, we were (accidently) in position. We both; heads down, paddled for it; Erwin prone, me on my knees. We both caught the wave. I pearled, straight down, my board popping back up dangerously close to other surfers scrambling out. Erwin rode the wave. Probably quite ungracefully, but, if only between him and I, he had bragging rights.
Bragging rights, but only between Erwin and me. Being ignored for a mediocre ride was far better than being noticed, called-out as a kook, told by three surfers, only one of them older than I was, to go surf somewhere else, go practice my knee-paddling in the nearby Carlsbad Slough.
I never did. I persisted. I got better. I had significant surf bumps by the time I started riding boards that took knee-paddling out of the equation.
Sometimes I, or Phillip and I, would go (on a Sunday) with Erwin’s mom and his many siblings; sometimes Phillip (on a Saturday) or both of them (on a Sunday, after school, or on a holiday) would go with Freddy and me and my mom. Always to Tamarack. Lower parking lot. Freddy never surfed a board. Surf mat; the real kind, hard, nipple-ripping canvas. Sometimes Freddy and I would get dropped-off, try to fit into the crowd, ease close to someone else’s fire when our mom’s shopping took longer than the time we could manage to stay in the water.
Ray and some of the other guys our age didn’t start surfing until the summer before our sophomore year, so Phillip and Erwin and I were ahead of them, better than them. Many of our contemporaries at least tried it. Anyone newer to surfing than you were was a kook and/or gremmie. Surfing had its own dress code and, more importantly, a fairly strict behavioral standard. A code I thought, at the time. It was fine to get all jazzed up among other surfers, going to or from the beach, but not cool to kook out among non-surfers.
Even in the proper surf gear, Phillip and Ray, both blondes, looked more like what TV and movies said surfers should look like (unless you were foolish enough to believe Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon were anything even close to real- real surfers knew the extras, the background guys, Miki Dora especially, and Mickey Munoz, were the real surfers). Erwin and I, dark haired; even when dressed in the requisite surf garb of the time, weren’t immediately recognized as surfers, weren’t immediately given whatever prestige we thought surfers received.
Or we were, and the prestige wasn’t what we thought it might be.
By the time we were seniors, most of the other Fallbrook surfers our age had dropped off; surfing was less important than whatever they were doing; though they still looked like surfers and always asked when I’d gone last; always said we’d have to go, together, some time.
Some time. We still rarely hung out in the Senior Area. The planters.
We all seemed to have cars; hand-me-downs from parents or older siblings off somewhere new. We could go surfing alone. Phillip and Ray had girlfriends, on and off. Even Erwin had a girlfriend, Trish; not an Adventist. Separate lives. Separate adventures. Romances. Drama. Sometimes we’d still surf together; usually not.
The stories of those adventures connected us. Loosely, probably.
I studied, I surfed. But, at nutrition and at lunch, pretending not to notice the swirl of so many stories around me, this concrete planter box was my social scene.
The obvious reason that there are so many people who think of ourselves as surfers, real or otherwise (and I will write about the obvious advantages of being a HODAD, later), is that, kook to pro, riding a wave is (or should be, definitely can be) THRILLING.
Get that thrill of tapping into nature’s energy, dropping in, dancing across the wave face, one with the… yeah, yeah, next time you’ll do even better. Maybe. Not to sound cynical here, but sixty-some years after I had to be, allegedly, rescued from the waves at SURF CITY, North Carolina, I’m still chasing, and occasionally fully realizing the THRILL.
WAIT. So, we moved to California when I was four, so this incident in which I toddled from my dad’s oceanfront (bought it cheap, sold it cheap, all washed away in hurricane) house to glory in the surf. It must have been blissful before an Aunt had to save (?) me.
Sixty-six years, and, while I’m explaining stuff, some of the least fun I’ve had were sessions where, considering myself pretty durn good at surfing, back when I was 19, 20; which, objectively, was the height of my ability (if I don’t add the increasing number of asterisks that go with age – wave knowledge does increase as knees and ankles deteriorate), when I was more pissed than blessed because performance did not live up to my expectations.
EXPECTATIONS; this is another issue. In retrospect, I should have just realized that waves are a gift, and the ride in which everything goes perfectly is rare. If a surfer can get one memorable wave in a session, he or she should be satisfied. IF NOT, there’s always the possibility of a NEXT TIME; next time, yeah, less of a crowd, more of a wave, that next time.
MEANWHILE, do consider avoiding the disappointments and frustrations; switch to being a REALHODAD. There are so many benefits. “Yeah, I surfed, Baja; bitchin’ surf camp, dudes; stood up the first day. Really. Kinda cool.”
NEXT TIME I will go into how I’ll never get past the first step in curing SURF ADDICTION, with a story of how I got mediocre waves shared with five high-fiving SUPers, obviously ripper wannabes who honed their skills riding ferry wakes off of Alki Beach, and then got to hear, again, via texts, about how other surfers I know found proper peelers, and then, because I’m so extremely childish/kookish (and I did get a few fun rides), I got all snarky/grinchy on the return texts… and then I said, okay, I was wrong; I’m not going to even look at the buoy readings the next day, and then, close to a fickle surf spot, even more fickle than most, and without a board or wetsuit (because I wasn’t going to think about surfing), I checked the buoys. FUCK! Had to be breaking. And it was, sort of, with too many surfers for the spot and more in the closest parking area. SO, YEAH; I hodad-ed it up; handed out my excuses (two of which are mention above). NO, I would rather have been surfing. My name is Erwin, and I’m an addict.
SO, I GUESS, next time I’ll write about how foolish it is, if you can’t make an actual living at surfing, to give up too much in search of the THRILL.
COMMENTS- WordPress makes it kind of a pain to write comments anyway, but it seems, right now, and I have tried to correct this, if you hit ‘comment,’ it just goes kind of nowhere. I’m getting close to finishing “SWAMIS,” the novel, and I will put in a web address to which one can send feedback; honest if not flattering. Next time.