“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.

Image (92)

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joyously

I write a monthly column for Quilcene’s Community Center. You probably don’t get it in your inbox.  Luckily, here’s the latest, only slightly past it’s ‘new’ date.  For an update, political reality keeps getting more intense; if you pay attention.  SO:

Hibernating, Hunkering, Hallmark Channel Binging

I’ll try to keep this simple. Not that anything in life is simple. Not that we really like simple. While I’m writing this, it’s still January, and we have had, this month, some snow; but mostly we have had, and are still having, record rain; constant, November-like rain. There are deep ruts in the gravelly-ist driveways, puddles large enough to have names and an attendant flock of waterfowl; birds stuck, mid-migration, and indecisive, as likely to fly east or west as north or south.

Not really. They might be thinking of just staying here in Quilcene. The snow levels in the mountains, Olympics and Cascades, seem to go up and down with some sort of rhythm. Mostly it’s rain, rain, rain, rain. Yeah, I know, next line is, “Oh my pillow’s soaking wet.” I don’t want to look it up.

Not that I could decipher the beat as I, to name-check a song title, “listen to the rhythm of the pouring rain” (okay, I did look this up. It was originally done by the Cascades, they being- didn’t look this up, from San Diego- no Cascades nearby). Still, we all dance to that rhythm.

Not necessarily gracefully.

So, if we had cold-to-freeeezing but clear weather in November, and if I can’t really remember what the weather was like in December (I’m guessing rain, but could have had some sun- no more than six hours maximum- pretty sure on that), and we had the rain in January, what about February?

Well, let’s hope for the best.

Hope.

I feel compelled to mention that Valentine’s Day and Groundhog Day are both in February. I think. Again, don’t want to look it up, but we are talking about romance and, again, some sort of hope in how long we have to wait for, you know, spring, and with it, yes, spring rains.

Meanwhile, many of us have done some amount of hibernating, some hunkering-down. Referencing, again, the romance angle, there is the opportunity to binge watch romance (as a genre) movies on, for example, the Hallmark Channel. One would, of course, as in the case with an overlarge box of chocolates, have to offset this sweetness with, perhaps, as an example, seasons one and two of ‘Jack Ryan’ on Amazon Prime. Action (another genre).

Or, for even more confrontational action, riveting conversation, dramatic intrigue, with passionate speeches and soliloquys (a soliloquy being a speech no one is, theoretically, actually listening to) one could tune into the Impeachment Show; the hours of testimony and rebuttal tied together and relentlessly covered in whatever remains of each day by the commentators on and explainers of (because this is America, durn it) your choice.

Now, I have heard that some people read, like, poetry, short story collections, novels, or listen to them, or listen to podcasts. I’ve worked in a lot of weekend houses, and, evidently, based on every one of them being stocked with shelves of puzzles and board games, I have to believe some folks put together or play with whatever is in those boxes.

I don’t wish to judge what anyone else does in the privacy of his or her home; but whatever one does in hibernation season, I can only hope one does it joyously.

I have included the illustration I modified for use as a Christmas/Holiday (and I will defend the slash mark if pushed) card. Since we didn’t send too many of those out, it was modified again to be used as New Year’s cards.

Scan_20191210 (2)

It fits, however, so neatly as a Hibernation Season card, the tagline being: “If you can’t hibernate peacefully, celebrate joyously.”

If we were celebrating rain, joyously; whoa; we’d be so overjoyed.

It’s simple. Really.

ONE MORE THING: I wrote a fake “Cowboy Poetry” piece, actually mine being “Cowboy Fiction,” which I may be reading, along with a bit from my fake memoir, “Swamis,” at 6pm, Thursday, March 5th, Uptown Port Townsend.  We’ll see.  I’m currently about 40 some pages through a front to back edit of the currently 240 pages of “Swamis.” Working on it.

 

And Now in Color…

Scan_20200107 (2)

TrkkScan_20200208

If I wanted the original drawing to be black and white psychedelic, I wanted the colored (over colored) version to chase after if not capture stained glass.

Actually, I didn’t think of that until I saw the image on the computer screen.

I’m in the tightening-up phase of my manuscript, “Swamis,” and right now, instead of chasing the latest possible surf/wind event hitting the northwest corner, I’ll be waiting, again, for the satellite guy.  Very nice; makes big bucks; replaced our failed ten year old HD box on Wednesday (after two pm on the 12-4 wait time) with one that didn’t fail for a day and a half.  He freaked our cat out.  She, Angelina, hid out for a day and a half.  Yeah, the same day and a half.

Spent another hour plus convincing various prompts that, indeed, I had tried to reset, unplug-plug, prayer, “the fucking thing won’t fucking work, fucker” (that was me to the evasive prompts; way nicer to Laura, who, eventually, spoke to me).  “Yes, if that’s what happening, you may be correct, sir, Erwin; the unit may be, as you say, toast.”

So, sometime today, between noon and forever.

Waiting.

No, I’ve got shit to do.  I did a stint at THE CELLAR DOOR last night, stand-in doorman tasked with collecting a five dollar cover.  I was standing in for my daughter, Dru, who is sick, being cared for by Trish.  Mixed reviews.  On the band and the doorman.  Person.

I would blather on, but I’ve already reduced the time I can spend on “Swamis,” and, with Trish still at our daughter’s place, I’m most concerned about our cat, Angelina, obviously more Trisha’s cat than mine, and where I’m going to put her when the big bad highly-paid (great benefits, too; 20 free phones, all gone, with unlimited everything) installer comes to call.

Oh, text update: Sometime between 1:45 and forever.

If I hadn’t gotten home so late, maybe…

Wait; something else about “Swamis,” other than I will be reading from it on Thursday, March 5, sometime after 6pm, Port Townsend Public Library.  Thanks to Keith Darrock.

I was discussing how the 110,000 word manuscript is now, about a fourth of the way through my editing process, over a hundred and twelve thousand words.  “Maybe,” my friend Stephen Davis (co owner of the Cellar Door) said, it’s become your ‘War and Peace.'”  “It’s at least my ‘Moby Dick,'” I replied.

You might not believe this, but the manuscript veers off the course a detective novel might adhere to.  Genre-bending.  Frequently.  I have to tell myself it’s okay because “Swamis” is more like a memoir.  Fake memoir.

My bigger fear is, since I can’t help thinking of how cool “Swamis” would be as an Amazon or Netflix mini-series (possibly provoked and furthered by watching Roku rather than DVRd “Jeopardy” and Colbert), is that each chapter is just too fucking (remember, I’m just typing, keystrokes on a computer, sending them out to whoever happens upon them- kind of like responding to a prompt) cute, too neatly packaged and wrapped.

And all the tightening might be making each chapter, and the entire manuscript more so.  Cuter.  I’m kind of thinking the more off-course chapters could be printed on pages of another color with a disclaimer/warning like, “If you want just the mystery story, skip this.”  That might be clever; might be, again, too cute.

If I was talking to you in person I’d probably say the same fucking thing: Beware, “Swamis” just might be too fucking cute.

Yeah, Steve and I, cruising between Port Townsend’s Goodwill (so I could get some proper doorman clothes and not have to go home between painting and manning) and the ultra-hip Co-Op (haven’t been there since right after it opened and I was no where near hip enough), did, at the “Moby Dick” comment, possibly giggle.  So immature.

Okay, thinking about locking Isabella in the bathroom when the guy shows up, thinking about why no wind is showing on a buoy (there’s always wind), thinking about when I’ll surf again (not today), thinking about “Swamis,” real and imagined.

 

The End of “Swamis” and Two Psychedelic-in-B&Ws in Color

It’s not finished, but earlier today I got to the last line (unless it changes) of  “Swamis,” the mystery/romance/coming-of-age/fake memoir/novel I’ve been working on for, if I’m counting the experiences that have gone into it, all my life.  It’s at 110,100 words on 02/02/20, subject to editing for inconsistencies, redundancies, contradictions, and just plain bad (inadequately great) writing.  Hopefully not too much of that.

I’m not sure how long this process will take, though I have been obsessively attacking the work lately, taking advantage of time afforded me (not that I can afford it) by the slowdown of work in winter.  And then I have several people I want to read it.  And then…

Hopeful.  Always.

But, maybe before I get to that point, I am planning on having at least one public reading.  One is already scheduled.  Thursday, March 5, 6pm (I think), Port Townsend Public Library.  This is part of a program set up by PT ripper and librarian Keith Darrock.

I’ll update this, and will, no doubt, mention it with every new posting.

MEANWHILE, continuing my “Psychedelic Period,” I have colored two recent drawings.  They and others, along with some Original Erwin t-shirts are available at Tyler Meeks’ DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.  All are limited editions, numbers limited by, um, me.

Scan_20200202

Scan_20200202 (2)

I should mention that the Disco Bay is open, winter hours, ten am to six pm, Thursday through Sunday, with gear for all your action activities on the Olympic Peninsula.

Also, in the should mention category, I have some prints available, including some from earlier periods, at THE CELLAR DOOR in Port Townsend, open nights, so, pretty much there after six pm for sure.

Illustrations for “Swamis,” the Novel

The manuscript for “Swamis” is up to somewhere over one hundred thousand words.  It’s a lot of words considering that, when I was told a novel should be over sixty thousand, I didn’t think I could get there.

Not that I did anything that I would call padding, I am now at the exciting conclusion, and need another five thousand or so to wrap it all up.

I had been considering the last line possibilities for quite some time.  Originally it was going to be, “They say I might be getting out of here sometime soon.”  Then it was… well, I think it will still be a different line, but, now, I’m thinking about adding one more line.  Here it is: “I didn’t ask if he was killed with a twenty-two or a forty-five.”

Yeah.  There must be lots of exciting stuff going on before this.

Since “Swamis” is, supposedly, a memoir written by Joseph DeFreines, Junior, and, just to make sure no one confuses him with me, I have put Erwin, someone of about the same age; another surfing inland cowboy from Fallbrook, North San Diego County, in the book as a character.

That Erwin is doing some illustrations for the eventual book.  Here are three drawings toward that goal:  One references a character very early on, Sid, whose last name neither I or my character can remember.  Sid was a team rider for Surfboards Hawaii at the time the story takes place, 1969, was featured hanging ten in an earlier black and white ad in “Surfer” magazine, and, as revealed by in the used board room at the Surfboards Hawaii shop in Encinitas, he was known to thrash his boards.

The second illustration is meant to represent the portion of the old stairs at Swamis, about two thirds of the way up, where a bigger deck offered a perfect view of the waves. This is where I was, on one of those days that starts out mediocre and becomes great, and from where I witnessed, in 1968 or so, a flawless cutback-to off-the-foam to bottom-turn to top-turn by Billy Hamilton.  This is where “Old men stop here” was dug into the railing, and it is where Gingerbread Fred’s body ends up.  In the novel.

The third illustration became, because of the way it turned out (compared to how it was intended) as a representation of one of the main characters, Chulo; whose death by immolation (love that word) next to the Self Realization Fellowship wall is critical to the story.  Chulo is described as looking like a limping (he has an actual limp) Jesus.  I scanned the drawing before adding a beard.  Just in case.

Scan_20200122 (2)

Scan_20200122

Scan_20200122 (3)

Scan_20200122 (4)

I have put some of the early “Swamis” chapters on this site, but, one, you’d have to scroll a long ways down to find them, and, two, my propensity for changing and editing makes them different.  At least.  I’m not saying it all might be different in the future.  It might.

I’m just hoping Joseph DeFreines, Junior doesn’t fire me as illustrator.

On Edge

I’m not sure if I should credit the reference photos for my drawings.  They aren’t tracings or blowups from the originals, but attempts to catch the feel and the flow.  If I did try, and, oh, I do, to render… wait, let me look that up.  Does one render?  There’s ‘Render unto Caesar,’ often misinterpreted, according to the various references on my search engine, as some justification for following ridiculous leaders.  Then there’s…

Oh.  Yes, there’s render as extracting by a melting-down process, as in rendering metals or, um, fat; and, in the surprisingly varied definitions of the word, there is also ‘rendition,’ as in ‘extraordinary rendition,’ a phrase created and designed to, if not outright justify it, make sending some prisoner to some harsh place to be ‘interrogated’ seem kind of all right and/or legal.

There’s also a noun, render being the first coat of plaster applied to a brick or stone surface.  I hadn’t heard this, and, so, looked it up.  Scratch coat,  brown coat, white (or finish) coat, according (giving references) to Bob Vila.com.

So, apologizing for taking this side road; but, all right; referencing a photograph of Jock Sutherland cranking one off the bottom switch-foot at Sunset Beach (or is he switch-foot at Pipeline), here is my, hmm, hmm, rendering; scratched on a piece of paper.  Card stock to be more precise.

Scan_20200120

I have done a color version, way too much color, but have to get it reduced to fit on my scanner.  Rendered scanner-ready, perhaps.  I won’t get into it.

Meanwhile, hope you’re getting some mountain snow activity in.  Evidently there are few if any secret established ski spots in the Cascades, and one must purchase a lift ticket well before arriving.  Too many skiers and snowboarders.  Evidently.

Meanwhile, before I get back to trying to finish (as in get to ‘the end’) of “Swamis,” the novel, I should mention some of my illustrations that Oceanna and Stephen have been so kind to allow me to display (hopefully sell) at THE CELLAR DOOR, downtown Port Townsend:

 

Surf/Write/Draw, other obsessions and addictions, and Multiple Distractions

I have written somewhere over 90,000 words, so far, for (or is it ‘in’ or ‘of’ or some other word?) my surf/romance/detective/coming-of-age inter-genre novel/fake memoir, “SWAMIS;” and it’s so close to being completed; so perilously, dangerously, frighteningly close; and yet… not not not not done.

Completing “Swamis” is my latest compulsion.  If, as I say, writing is mostly thinking, then typing, scribbling, word processing, long-handing; whichever (I love the backspace feature; so much cleaner than crossing-out and writing in the margins and adding carrots and lines and arrows; and so much easier to read than my handwriting) process gets the thoughts onto the page, new thoughts filling-in gaps in reasoning, backspace taking out the occasional fuckup.  Oh, and there’s reviewing, and, perhaps, reading out loud (best way to find flow impediments and, if you’re reading to someone, the best way to get some sort of reaction as to whether you’re just fucking wasting your own and possibly their precious time, possibly to definitely on that scale); and there’s the opportunity to go back, change, edit, add something earlier that makes things later make more sense.

So, okay; let’s just ask this question: Is one crazy for thinking, when all of us are supposed to have some skill at writing, that one is a writer?  And/or (jeez; I could have put a semi-colon there and extended the run-on; do love a semi-colon) does writing turn one crazy?

So glad I put the and/or in there.  The answer, I believe, is both.

Image (92)

Here’s exactly where I am: It’s 1969.  Jesus Freak Chulo is burned up on the Swamis parking lot side of the Self Realization Fellowship compound in Encinitas.  Thousands of words later I’ve had my mind changed on who killed Chulo, and why; and what form of violence is going to be necessary to take care of the killer or killers?  I didn’t know who killed him myself, going in; and, in the tradition (I didn’t say ‘best’ tradition- just ‘the’) of detective novels, it’s not who the reader thought it was.  It’s not who I thought it was.

Work and other distractions are things I’ve rationalized (this is like; yeah, I know I missed some classic waves the other day, but mowing my lawn was just so, so… it’s lying to yourself) into a positive is this: (I hope you notice the full on colon usage) The time away from writing gives me new eyes, a fresher and more objective view of the drivel and crap and genius level verbiage I have previously written.  Sure.

NOTE- I just back-spaced a whole paragraph.  Painful?  Not too.

Oh, just thought of this: (colon): I’ve had some people who have been gracious and patient enough to listen to me try to tell them something about the plot and characters and time and place setting and underlying truths in “Swamis.”  I do appreciate this.  My daughter, Dru, is one of these.  “Sounds kind of dark, Dad.”  “What? No. It’s not. It’s…” “How many people are killed?” “So far? Chulo, Gingerbread Fred, there’s stuff about Vietnam, um, people I probably have to kill off.  Yeah; maybe it’s a little dark.  There is some humor.”  “Okay then.”

I am tempted to go into this sub-topic: Is writing (or surfing, or drawing, or mountain climbing, a huge list of activities, including, because it’s critical to the plot, meditation) self-edifying, self-aggrandizing, in some way masturbatory?  Okay; I’ll avoid that subject.  Answer- probably all of the above; depending.

Depending.  I am both stubborn and self-critical.  I realize “Swamis” is dialogue-heavy; I feel that my style might have changed from the first page to whatever page I’m on; I’m not entirely sure my style is… good.  It might be; and I’m self-critical/stubborn/conceited/delusional/insane enough to stick with it.  So far.

So far.

So far.  Part of the problem is, or might be, that I started to think of the story, and to break it down into a succession of scenes, like movie scenes.  I do have some history as a failed (I prefer almost successful) writer of screenplays, the difference being I’m still painting houses. I do seem to think of and remember things in two ways:  Visually and verbally.

A screenplay is a quite specific discipline/format/tradition.  It seems to be this: (man, these colons)  Setting, dialogue, action. Where something is happening, what is said, and what is done.  What we as viewers don’t realize because of the visual, is that most movies have very little dialogue.  Without that, with only words, what you have is someone trying to guide/push/force a reader into creating the visual.

Or this could be bullshit. I do have several people who have agreed, in theory, to read “Swamis”, once it is completed.  Yes, I did ask each one to read earlier chapters, just to get their feedback, their take on the style.  Nope.  It has to be done.  Or at least, a draft of the manuscript with ‘the end’ at the end.  The thing is, in the hour here, hour there I’ve had to work on this; I usually spent the time editing the living shit out of what was already on the thumbdrive. Now, this close, I know most of what I have to go back and change or modify.  Most or some.  And, I’ve surprised myself at how something early on can fit into the story as it has developed.

What to do with “Swamis” once it’s at ‘the end,’ there’s a question.  I can’t help but imagine different scenarios.  Frightening.

I have to go, finish an interior in Port Ludlow (hint; means that if there is surf around these parts, I won’t be snaking your waves).  I’ll try to think about the ending and how, if I choose this, I’ll have to change that, that kind of shit.  It’s fine; it’s an empty house and I don’t have a radio that still works.

 

Cold Days and Dark Waves

Here’s a photo of a spot you or I will, most likely, never surf, and a painting (in progress) of a spot that exists, possibly only, in the artist’s mind:

peterspoint

stevedarkwaves

What they have in common is the atmosphere.  It can be bright and sunny on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but the darkness, the variations in gray; shining silver to near-black; this is more common.  With the orientation, north shore, low sun over high mountains, it can seem like dawn in the daylight hours; 7:30 or so to 4:30, right about now; and almost a month until the solstice.

The painting is by Stephen Davis.  My critique, shared with him: Love the sky, love the waves; not sure about the green foreground.  Steve’s response: “I’ll be going back in; I’m trying different techniques; want to get the cobbles just right.”  Stay tuned.

Oh, and about the photograph. It’s not where I thought it was, and I had many more clues than I’m willing to share with you*.

Oh, oh; I am taking some advantage of the short days, working on my novel, “Swamis;” and, editing the shit out of what I’ve already written first, second, third drafts of, without getting to the exciting climax, the famous December ’69 swell, I have gotten to the point where I’m a bit afraid to share too much.  I am (possibly delusion-ally) envisioning it as a limited series.  Netflix, Prime; yeah, they could use a surf-centric/murder mystery/coming of age story/fake memoir with way too much dialogue (and not enough surfing for a real surfer) set in a world of hyper change: Home grown marijuana, revolution, war, love, and magic; North County, San Diego, 1969.

See? In 90,000 (or so) words less than the novel, I may have just said too much.  Happy Thanksgiving.

*If we talk in person, I do have some session stories I could tell.  (crowds, skunking’s, scores, entanglements, wind, rain… all the usual northwest stuff).   See you out on Surf Route 101.

WAIT, WAIT; I’m adding another painting; entirely because I made some reference to ‘the ninth wave’ in an email to Drew Kampion, and, well, I felt compelled to look up slash Google the term, one that I’ve heard, casually, as in “So, you’re probably going for the ninth wave, huh?”  No, I probably tend to go for the first or second wave; and I have tried to explain to people that waves rarely show up in nine wave sets.  Doesn’t matter.

So, evidently there is a book, “The Ninth Wave,” with some references to surfing in the nineteen thirties and forties, written by Eugene Burdick.  I haven’t read it.  Burdick died of a heart attack at age 46, in 1965 (the year I started board surfing, not that that is in any way ironic).

AND there’s a famous painting, “The ninth wave,” or, possibly, “After the ninth wave,” which I have seen, not in person, but on TV; described as probably the best marine painting of all time by, if I remember correctly, Rick Steves.  The work is by Russian painter, Ivan Aivazovsky, and, possibly coincidentally, it goes with the theme of this piece.  Since I already downloaded it, I figured I might as well display it here.

HERE:The-Ninth-Wave

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.

Scan_20191022

Scan_20191022 (3)

Scan_20191022 (2)

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.

From “Swami’s” the Novel

I am still working on the novel; when I can. I’m busy; working. It’s painting season, and I haven’t had the luxury of a few hours early in the morning when my brain is best suited to writing; or, more likely, the energy to take those hours and then do a days work an hour each way from home.  Now, I must admit, I have taken some time to attempt to find and ride waves. Don’t tell my clients.  Not that much time.

And I’ve been thinking about the novel; where it is, how to resolve it; who killed Chulo; who killed Jody’s father; and, once worried that a novel is supposed to be over 60,000 words, I’m now at somewhere over 55,000 and needing thirty or… I need more words.

So, here I am home relatively early, took a much needed nap, interrupted after half an hour by Trish, just wanting to know if I’m home (yes, and no, I can’t go back to sleep), and I have some time before Trish gets home, so, rather than write new stuff, I thought I could post something from what I have written.

Part of my wanting to do this is that, discussing the painting of a rental with one of my clients, retired attorney Rick Shaneyfelt, I started telling him about the novel.  I can’t say listening to a painting contractor talk about plot and character development was particularly fun for Rick, but, like talking surf with a friend, it did get me inspired to do something (something) on the novel.

Because I wanted to back up the version on my computer, I have a zip/stick/whatever drive, and I’ve been writing on that.  The version on the computer is somewhat behind and, because I edit what I’ve written more often than adding new chapters, it’s different. I was going to copy and paste a chapter that actually had surfing in it, but, scrolling down, I got to this part.

AND, of course, I made changes. I can straighten that out later.  MEANWHILE, please check out this part, probably about a third of the way in to what I’ve written so far on “SWAMIS.”

Image (92)

                 JUMPER AND THE WOMAN FROM THE JESUS BUS… WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1969

“I was surfing at Pipes,” Jumper told me, both of us walking across the Palomar campus from the upper parking lot, “last spring; kind of junky, and… Swamis wasn’t working. It was pretty early. Overcast. I see this woman coming down the stairs. Kind of a flowing… I don’t know, robe or something, behind her.”

“From Pipes? You saw her from Pipes?”

“Yeah; good vision. And she runs around the corner…”

“Boneyards?”

“Yeah. And… the waves weren’t too good, anyway; so I decide to go for a run.”

“Jog? Like jogging?”

“Yeah. No. Hey, Jody; Marine Corps. Remember? We don’t fuckin’ jog, man.”

“Yeah, so, you, um, run. Sure. You dropped your board and…?”

“Yeah. I stuck it against the rocks by the ramp, jogged on down.” Jumper did a bit of a comic jogging move, legs flying to the sides. “Ran. I mean, the beach was empty; I stayed on the hard sand… (whistles the Marine Corp anthem a bit) and I get to Swamis, go around the corner, around the point, and…”

“And?”

“And there she was; full lotus position.” Jumper held out both hands, palms up thumb to first two fingers. I nodded, gave him a hand motion that meant ‘and?’ “So, she’s sitting on whatever it was she had been wearing, and she’s…”

“Naked?”

“No. No. But, she’s…” Jumper moved his free hand from one side of his chest to the other a couple of times. “…topless.”

“Oh. And, full lotus?”

“Full lotus; eyes closed. I guess her dress was kind of… (he acted as if he was pulling up a skirt, unevenly, one leg, then the other) there was a lot of, a lot of leg showing. Thigh.  I’m, I, um, run past. Then, then I figure; like, if she’s in a trance… so, I kind of jog- okay, jog; back… around… couple of times.”

Jumper did a sort of over-awkward, vaudevillian version of his beach moves, eyes on one place (in this case, on me). 

I duplicated Jumper’s jogging routine, adding some arm flapping, some out-of-sync hand motions.

PORSCHE/PORTIA AND SHAKESPEARE…

We were both laughing. Jumper’s voice got lower as we approached the first classrooms, little groups of students, a few more men than women, waiting for the 7pm classes to begin. There was only one I recognized (Jeanie, had dated John in high school- he had moved away- his dad was transferred- didn’t want to ask if they were still together- assumed they weren’t- she was standing quite close to a guy I didn’t know). Jeanie and I exchanged those ‘wave in lieu of conversation’ waves.

Jumper exchanged nods with several guys, waved at a young woman. She stepped forward. He stopped, allowed her to give him a hug. There were words, “Welcome back,” “Yeah, yeah.” “You… good?” “Good; yeah; good.”

Jeanie didn’t step forward to explain… anything.  The people Jumper knew all looked a bit suspiciously at me. Or I imagined they did.  He didn’t introduce me. He nodded in the direction we were going, and we moved on.

“It was; it was the woman from the ‘Jesus Saves’ bus.  Portia.”

“Oh. Oh? Yeah. Her.” I had heard her name. I knew her name. Portia. She was somewhere over twenty, under thirty; long black hair, very tall, always in a long skirt, kind of a Hippie/Prairie/Churchy. Now I was imagining her topless, full lotus. “Portia?”

“Maybe. Yeah. Yes. Porsche, like the sportscar; and, it’s, like, maybe the third time I circled, she opens her eyes and…”

“Shit!”

“Shit; yeah; and she says, ‘I’m not Buddhist or Hindu or nothing,’ and I just…”

 “Fuck. Busted!” I was giggling.

Jumper got a bit more serious; gave me a look. Sideways. I had fallen a bit behind him. I knew better. I pulled even with him. “She says, ‘Jumper, Jumper Hayes.’  Not like it was a question.”

“What?” I stopped. I stopped giggling.

“Yeah. Yeah, and I say, trying to not look at her tits, which, by the way, she made no move to cover. Just, uh, out there. Eye level. Tan. They’d been out before. For sure. But, they were…” Jumper put both hands out, as if cupping breasts. I probably was trying to determine something more specific about size and shape; probably something about whether they were high and… yeah; I was wondering.

The notebook under my left arm almost fell out as I tried to duplicate Jumper’s hands. Yes, he had twisted, rotated his wrists a bit. Size and shape.

“Really?”

“Really.”

Jumper dropped his hands, started walking again. “Wait. Wait! And you said?”

“What?”

“You were about to say what you said when she said, ‘You’re Jumper Hayes.’ And it’s not Porsche like the car, it’s Portia, like, like a character from Shakespeare.”

“Shakespeare?” Jumper asked. We both nodded, neither of us sure.

“I think,” I said.  

“Well, then. Shakespeare.”

ATH-A-LETES…

We were approaching the correct block of classrooms. “We’ve missed some classes, you know.”

“You know I don’t care, Jumper; didn’t want to take this class.”

“Well; you’re a brain, supposedly; you can make it up.”

“Probably just basic stuff; getting free food, beating confessions out of the innocent, rousting Mexicans, harassing Hippies; probably inherited most of it.”

 Jumper looked to see if I was serious.  Joke.  We rounded the last corner. There was a group of about seven or eight large guys in the middle of the block.

“Ath-a-letes,” Jumper said. “It’s kind of a joke. You tell someone you’re taking Police Science, they ask if there’s a lot of athletes in the program.  Easy A, as I said.”

Several of the ath-a-letes nodded at Jumper, one at me (Fallbrook jock- lineman, shotputter, heavy weight wrestler), as we approached. Jumper stuck both hands in the air, flipping the bird with each.  The athletes gave way. We walked past them.

Most of them.  The biggest one stepped in front of Jumper. Jumper stopped. I stopped. The guy was wearing a San Dieguito letterman’s jacket that may have fit when he was smaller, younger; fourteen or fifteen.  He was somewhere over twenty. Jumper’s age, probably. “Jumper fucking Hayes,” he said.

“Tiny fucking Tod,” he said.

Tiny Tod picked Jumper up, said, “We was so worried about you, man.” Yeah, somewhere around Jumper’s age.

Jumper didn’t resist. Not that he could. Larger force. He was being shaken like a ragdoll. And then he was set back on his feet.  “Thanks, Tiny.” Jumper rearranged his shirt a bit. “I’m good. You taking this class?”

“Uh; yeah; coach said we have to.”

 “But, uh… coach?”

“I’m a freshman, Jumper. Navy, man; four years. Saw the world.”

“Okay.”

“Mostly San Di-fucking-a-go. NTC. Cook.  You?  Heard you and Chulo did some time in the Gray Bar Hotel.  Fuckin’ shame ‘bout Chulo.”

“Yeah. Um… no; they gave me, me more than Chulo; gave me a choice.”  Jumper snapped to attention. “Semper fi, Swabbie.”

“Wait. No.” Tiny Tod pointed to a ‘USN’ tattoo, with anchor, on his upper arm, grabbed Jumper’s arm.  Jumper gave him a look (we all watched the exchange, saw the look); Tiny dropped the arm.  “Sorry.”

Jumper looked around at the other students, rolled up the left sleeve on his t shirt to reveal the rest of his scar, just to the inside of the middle of his bicep.  He laughed. One syllable only, sticking his finger into the former wound, pushing it in past the first knuckle. “No muscle there; huh?”  He laughed a bit more, pulled down his sleeve.   “All right.” He looked around at the other students, back at Tiny, pointed at me. “If any of you need to, cheat off’a this guy. He doesn’t just look smart. Um, smart-er; anyway.”

All the athletes looked at me. Tiny stepped aside.  They all stepped aside. I followed Jumper.  He looked around, jerked his head as a signal. I came up even.

He kicked out with his right leg, caught me mid calf.  “Sidekick,” he said.

“No way,” I said.  I stopped just long enough to kick out my left leg. Missed. He laughed. 

Five or six men, older men; men, were standing at the other end of the building in another group; smoking, laughing. A couple of them looked our way. Jumper stopped between the two groups. I stopped; even with him.

“Okay, Jody,” he said, in a lower voice, “So I say, ‘Yes, I am. Do I know you?’ And she says, ‘I knew Chulo Lopez. You were a friend of his.’ I say, ’Chulo? Yes; good friends; known him… knew him… all my life.”

“Chulo?”

“Yeah, and then she unfolds her legs, straightens them, stands up. Gracefully.”  Pause. Even lower, “She was wearing underwear. I looked. Yeah. I did. Black. Lacy. Her skirt kind of, um, falls down. She must have had a belt to… She was a little, um, uphill of me; and she walks closer. Her tits are still, just, out there. I’m looking in her eyes. Trying to. So dark. And she’s looking me up and down. And she says, or, maybe, she asks, ‘Do you know Jesus?’ And I kind of… I kind of want to laugh. I say, ‘Yeah. Jesus; half man, half God; I know a lot about Jesus.’ And she goes, ‘Do you think Chulo has found redemption?’”

“Wait,” I said, “Redemption?” Now we’re both serious. I pulled a pack of Marlboros out of my jacket pocket. Maybe it was because all the guys at the other end were smoking. Jumper shook his head.  I put the cigarettes back.

“Yeah, redemption. And I say… a couple of other runners, joggers; they were- I’d call them joggers; outfits and all; were headed our way… from the Moonlight beach direction; and she, Portia… Por-ti-a; she pulled up her dress; slowly covered her tits, watching me all the time, and, and, I guess it was the shawl thing around her waist. She…”

“Jumper; man; what did you say?”

“I said that whoever killed my friend Chulo had better look hard for redemption; because I’m looking for him, and I must apologize to God and to Jesus for this, revenge.”

“Revenge. Shit. What did she, Portia, what did she say?”

“She…” Jumper looked from side to side, back at me. “She just sort of…” He smiled. “Smiled.”

I had, of course, more questions; but it must have been close enough to seven. A man came out of the classroom, herded the crew inside, most cigarette butts left in the number 10 can at the door; some butted and tossed into the juniper bushes. The athletes walked past, pretty much around us. When the teacher caught a glimpse of Jumper and me, he pushed the next to the last student, Tiny Tod, inside, turned, both hands waving us off. He started walking, quickly toward us.

“Dickson,” I said. “Detective Dickson.”

“That,” Jumper said, “I would call that jogging.”

                                          VISTA SUBSTATION- THURSDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 25

“I’ve been here before,” Jumper said. “You?”

“’Course. Yeah. Sure; my dad worked out of here.” I pointed to a separate office, big window, closed door. “That was his.” Jumper nodded. We were standing in the larger, open area, with several empty desks and rows of file cabinets for dividers; a couple of uniformed deputies leaning over a woman clerk at a typewriter in a far corner. Jumper was holding a paper cup of coffee. 

“Different circumstances, probably,” Jumper said.

The door to what had been my father’s office opened. A man dressed in a nicer suit (higher rank, better suit) walked out…   dot dot dot…

I tried to not make changes once this got onto the WordPress page; couldn’t help myself.  Again, thanks for checking it out.  Trish should be home any minute, with groceries to bring in and take out to eat.  Maybe, in the morning…