“Surf’s Up” and Other Stuff from “Sideslipping”

DESPERATELY SEEKING SALINE. Hey, it’s been too long between swells, too long since we got out there. YouTube videos just don’t replace being out there, in the water. Paddling isn’t the same as surfing. My standard line is, “If there weren’t waves you couldn’t get me into this (Strait of Juan de Fuca is colder than the actual ocean on the Olympic Peninsula) water; if there are waves, you couldn’t keep me out.”

Despite that, my most recent attempt at finding a place where one is allowed to surf and there were actually waves found me paddling, paddling, paddling. NOW, I frequently ride pretty small waves, and always say it’s practice for when larger waves show up. Not that time; but I did practice the standup part of standup surfing. Fun. Practice. Sarcasm.

I WANT WAVES.

Meanwhile, I am making some progress in my bigtime edit of “SWAMIS.” It’s way easier on the reader; chapters clearly identified, almost all the stuff related to the current/older Joseph DeFreines, Jr. cut completely. I am saving the longer cut scenes/chapters as “Sideslipping,” now up to about forty pages with about half the manuscript left to work on. Oddly, because I’ve moved chapters around and added some stuff, the actual word count has not dropped to the same place. Still, I’m hoping to get it all to around one hundred thousand words.

TO SET UP THIS CUT, Jody (Joe DeFreines, Jr.) is typing/editing a piece Jumper Hayes wrote for a creative writing class at Jumper’s house when Jumper’s parents come home. Part of one of my conceits in the story is that almost every character is part this and part that; Jody is half Japanese, Jumper’s father is a descendant of the original Spanish conquerors/settlers; and California is as mixed a melting pot as, really, almost anywhere.

MEXICAN INFLECTION

‘Mexican inflection?’ I wouldn’t have meant this in any derogatory way, necessarily; but, if there is a California inflection; it comes from the mixture of Spanish and everyone else who came here; pathfinders and cowboys and gold seekers and Oakies, post-war migrants like my parents, and, I guess, me.  One cannot deny the Mexican influence, flattened and foreshortened by all the rest of us.

And then there’s the black and gay influence: Words and phrasing and phrases; how we thought gays and black people talked, exaggerated, co-opted, stirred into the California lexicon, the California dialect, the California inflection.

Still, the Mexican influence cannot be denied.

Surfers, of course, had to be a bit different; speak with a different rhythm, introduce new words.  You know the words.  The attitude, the surfer attitude, is probably more your idea than reality, exaggerated and perverted and spread by TV and movies and advertisers.

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.

SURF’S UP

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 avo-caaa-do.” 

STAY SAFE, and watch out next time you see me. I may have been practicing.

Sketches, Okay, Sketches

In introducing his girlfriend to me, and, sorry, I have forgotten her name and I don’t want to guess; Chris Eardly (sp? I thought his name was Etley for a while, which morphed into Ed Lee), added that I did some of the illustrations she had seen at Tyler Meek’s DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.

Without going into how I hope the omni-demic subsides enough that it can be reopened soon, and I hope Tyler is doing all right… okay, I called, twice, at least… no return call…. ANYWAY, “Oh,” Chris’s girlfriend said, “I really like your sketches.”

SKETCHES? No wonder I forgot her name. I am kidding, sort of; I spend too much time on my illustrations to consider them sketches. BUT, I have been working on some, um, drawings for “Swamis”, which, UPDATE, I have cut down by eight thousand words or so, have made it easier to read. This editing includes establishing clear(er) breaks between time leaps and… AND there will be more cuts to come, all ready for the sequel, “Sideslipping.”

OH, I can see it now: ANYWAY, here are some sketches:

possible Baadal Singh
possible Gingerbread Fred

possible Portia Langworthy

As with everything else, I’m working on it.I
Meanwhile, please continue down to the next post, it should explain possible Portia’s wardrobe. Oh, and if you notice the lighting seems similar on the various sketches, you’re right. I am calling it “Swamis lighting.” Stay safe.

Full Lotus- From “Swamis”

   I had planned on cutting out all the stuff from this super-edited chapter that didn’t totally relate to Portia. I have been trying to do an illustration that captures the look I want Portia to have. I have one, but I have to go. I’ll add the illustration tomorrow. Check out the writin’.     

CHAPTER TWENTY- WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1969

-no srfng. Study x 3. Write. Clss.  Studied Crim Jstce book. Easy. Jmpr & I kickd out of class. Dickson-

FULL LOTUS

“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 a woman… at Swamis… from Pipes?”

“Yeah; good vision.  A woman; 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?”

“No. Hey, Jody; Marine Corps.  Remember?  Cut me some huss.*  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.”  I mouthed ‘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.  You get that.  Trance.  So, I kind of jog- okay, jog; back… around… couple of times.”

Jumper did an overly-awkward, vaudevillian version of his beach moves, eyes on one place (in this case, on me, substituting, in this case, for the woman).  I duplicated Jumper’s jogging routine, adding some arm flapping, some out-of-sync hand motions.

JOHN/JEANNIE

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 some 7pm class to begin. 

There was only one student I recognized.  Jeannie.  She had dated John in high school; John/Jeannie I called them, collectively.  John had moved away when his dad was transferred. Jeannie was standing we’re-together-close to a guy I didn’t know.  She and I exchanged ‘wave in lieu of conversation’ waves, she turning, I figured, to explain to her new man who I was and how she knew me.

Jumper exchanged nods with several guys, waved at a young woman.  She stepped forward.  He stopped, allowed her to give him a hug.   Side hug, not full frontal.  There were words: “Welcome back,” “Yeah, yeah.”  “You… good?”  “Good; yeah; good.”  “At least you’re out of that shit.”  “Could be.”

The people Jumper knew all looked a bit suspiciously at me.  Or I imagined they did.  He didn’t introduce me.  Then, I hadn’t introduced him to Jeannie.  He nodded in the direction we were going, and we moved on.

PORSCHE/PORTIA AND SHAKESPEARE

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

“Oh.  Oh?  Yeah.  Her.  Her?”

“Yeah; her.”

I knew her name. Portia; knew she had had some sort of connection with Chulo.  Evangelists.  She was somewhere over twenty; long black hair, very tall, always in a long skirt, kind of a Hippie/Prairie/Churchy look. 

But now I was imagining her topless, full lotus.  “Portia?”

“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.  Jumper stopped, allowing me to pull even with him.  “She says, ‘Juni, 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 was trying to determine something more specific about size and shape; probably something about whether they were high and… yeah; I was imagining.

The notebook under my left arm almost fell out as I tried to duplicate Jumper’s hands.  Yes, he had twisted and 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. 

No; I was sure.  Shakespeare.  “Shakespeare… I think,”  

“Well, then.  Shakespeare Portia.”

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, catch up.”

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

 Jumper looked to see if I was serious.  Joke.  “Osmosis.  That’s it.”  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 students looked our way.  “Grant Murdoch,” I said, trying to keep my voice low, to Jumper.  “Fallbrook.  Asshole.”  I flipped Grant the peace sign.  Grant flipped me off.  “See?”

Jumper stuck both hands in the air, flipping the bird with each.  Double eagles.  The athletes and Grant Murdoch gave way.

Most of them.  The biggest, tallest 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 definitely somewhere over twenty.  Jumper’s age, probably.  “Jumper fucking Hayes,” he said.

“Tiny fucking Tod Beachum,” he said, to Tod; “Reach’em Beachum,” he said, to me, “if we’re talking basketball.”

Tiny Tod gave Jumper a full-frontal hug, picking him off the ground.  “We was so worried about you, man.”  Yeah, somewhere around Jumper’s age.

Jumper didn’t resist.  Not that he could.  Greater 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 takin’ this class?”

“Uh; yeah; coach said we have to.”

“But, uh… coach?”

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

“Okay.”

“Mostly San Di-fucking-a’-go.  NTC.  Cook.  You?  Heard you and Chulo did some time at the Gray Bar Hotel.  Fuckin’ shame about Chulo.  After that one scuffle…  I liked him.  I did.”

“Yeah.  Um… no, no Gray Bar…  they gave me a choice.”  Jumper snapped to attention. “Semper fi, Swabbie.”

“Wait.  No.”  Tiny Tod peeled off his letterman jacket, dropped it to the ground, pointed to a “USN’ tattoo, with anchor (no heart), on his upper arm.  He grabbed Jumper’s left arm, pushed up his sleeve.  He dropped his smile, let go of the arm.

Jumper gave Tiny Tod Reach’em Beachum a smile. Tiny dropped the arm with a “Sorry, man; just knew you’d have you a Jarhead tattoo.”

Jumper looked around at me and the other Police Science students, pulled the left sleeve of his t shirt farther up, revealing the rest of a large, almost oval scar, just to the inside of his bicep.  He laughed.  One syllable only; sticking his finger into the former wound, pushing it into the skin just past the first knuckle.  “No meat, just skin… and muscles.  Pretty cool, huh?”

“Yeah.  Uh, Jumper, man; you could put a, um, face tattoo of that thing.  Remember how you decorated your surf bumps, made ‘em look like…” Tiny let out a big laugh here, putting his hands on his kneecaps to illustrate, “Boobies?”

“Eyeballs, we told moms and teachers, then called the them dirty-minded.   Anyway, Tiny, you don’t need tattoos if you have scars.”  Jumper looked at the faces of each of the other students, all nodding; then back at Tiny.  “If any of you ath-a-letes need to… I mean when you need to, cheat off’a this guy.”  He put one finger on my shoulder.  “Joe, Joey.  He doesn’t just look smart.”

All the athletes looked at me.  Tiny stepped aside as Jumper started walking past them.  I followed. Jumper looked around, jerked his head forward.  I came up even.

SIDEKICK

Jumper 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.  We both 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, “Jody.   Joey.  Okay.   So I say, ‘Yes, I am. Do I know you?’  And she says, ‘Chulo… you were a friend of his.’  I say, ’good friends; not good enough; I’ve known him… knew him… all my life.”

“Chulo,” I said, “she and Chulo… I mean, different, um, mood.”

“Yeah, sort of, but then she unfolds her legs, straightens them, stands up.  Gracefully.”  Pause.  “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 both Jumper and I were serious.  I pulled a pack of Marlboros out of my windbreaker pocket.  Maybe it was because most of the guys at the classroom end of the building were smoking.   Power of suggestion.  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 the motherfucker, and I must apologize to God and to Jesus for this, I want revenge.”

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

“She…” Jumper looked from side to side, back at me.  “You know, Portia has one of those faces you don’t really, really see; maybe you’re afraid to look too close.  Mysterious.”  I must have nodded.  Yes, I knew what he meant, but what did she say?  “She just sort of…”  Jumper smiled.  “…smiled.”

Now Jumper and I both smiled.

JOGGING

I had many more questions, but it must have been close enough to seven.  A man came out of the classroom, herded the crew inside.  Most dropped their cigarette butts into the number 10 can at the door; some butted and tossed theirs into the juniper bushes.  The Ath-a-letes 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.”

HUSS- “Cut me a (or some) huss.” The phrase was pretty Vietnam era Marine Corps specific; referring, originally, to a request for a helicopter, possibly for evacuation of wounded marines; it came to mean the equivalent of ‘cut me some slack’ or ‘do me a favor.’ I would never have used it in my own conversations.  No.  I wasn’t a Marine.  A Marine wouldn’t ordinarily share the phrase with a non-Marine; wouldn’t want to have to explain it.

The New Now

Several times a day I check the Washington State Coronavirus stats, looking and hoping for single digits in the deaths category. Really, zero would be great. The numbers are declining and things are opening up. Still, places one can surf on the North Olympic coast and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, even if surf does magically appear (and it’s always magic), are even more limited than usual. If you venture to Highway 112 you will be greeted with an official road sign with a message that says, not “Local Traffic Only,” but “Locals Only.”

Whoa!

SOCIAL DISTANCING has been working. I wasn’t an instant convert, but I am enough of a convert that I get annoyed when I see people cruising around in stores seemingly unconcerned about how close they get to others and without (at least) masks. This is arrogant and irresponsible, and says “I don’t care about you and whether you live or die.” People who refuse to wear masks don’t, evidently, realize that the masks are not to protect them, but to protect others from them.

Add possibly dangerous and stupid to arrogant and irresponsible. Now, unfortunately, one characteristic of stupidness is an inability to realize one is stupid, as in actually saying, “A lot of folks are saying this is all a hoax.”

A certain sense of entitlement and self-righteousness and a quickness to anger might be others. Might be.

Yeah, I know. I don’t feel entitled or self-righteous; I’ve broken and/or not lived up to protective protocol, I’m not trying to sound preachy, I am trying to PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING; but, being competitive by nature, I might want to go pro level. SIX FEET. Back the fuck up!

MEANWHILE, here’s my latest contribution to the Quilcene Newsletter.

  “WHAT’S YOUR HURRY?” AND OTHER QUESTIONS FROM THE UNIVERSE

Many of us have a certain work ethic; we place a high value on work.  Work first.  Perhaps you have been described as someone who lives to work, a workaholic.  I have.  Not wrongly; it’s long (if fifty years of working is long) been my policy (sometimes stated) to try to do, say, five days work in three. 

This requires a certain optimism.  “All I have to do to paint this house is bleach, wash, cut back plants, mask windows, put out dropcloths, mix paint, etc. etc. etc.”

I could say youthful optimism.  The difference fifty years makes is the increased difficulty one has in self-generating this same enthusiasm.  “Oh, man; in order to paint this house I’ll have to…”  It’s the same list.

Different attitude.

All the little things that slowed the ahead-of-schedule schedule: Broken equipment, wrong-color of paint, rain squalls, etcetera; were irritating setbacks, not, as I once perceived them to be, little hints and shoves and roadblocks from The Universe meant to give me a bit of a handicap, because, otherwise, everything going to plan, I’d be wailing out the jobs, making real money.

Now, of course, I have age and cranky joints as real handicaps, and, thank you Universe, I still have many of the previously mentioned issues.  Not all at once, of course.

BUT WAIT, in the NEW NOW we have new issues. Work is something many are not allowed to do; at least not the old version of work.  I’m not retired, I have some work, and I have an overwhelming list of things I can do around the house, but, if the current situation is something like retirement…

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh!

Okay.  Okay.  I’m okay.  Actually, I am kind of annoyed with myself because my best excuse, which used to be that I’m too busy working or we don’t have the money (because I’m not busy working), is, in the NEW NOW, “What’s the hurry?” 

If questioned, I refer back to the Universe, possibly having to add that I have my own ideas on what I’m referring to as The Universe, but in no way do I want to keep anyone from having his or her own. 

I do have a few grievances: I am annoyed by the spread of overly sentimental news stories (not the ones about good people dying) about how together we all are.  Really?  Maybe back when one’s personal space was somewhat less than six feet, back when the look in someone’s eye was mild tension rather than abject fear that another human being might come in for a hug.  Fistbump?  No.  Kiss?  Mace.  If the message of togetherness is actually an advertisement, double the annoyance. 

You are also, possibly, less than thrilled to watch comedians and singers and reporters and pretty much anybody who is coming to us live (or recorded) on any screen, from a basement or back porch or private luxury yacht.

Here’s something: Every month Bob lets me know that I’ve gone past the official deadline for submitting something for this very newsletter.  Here it is… let me check… April 30, 2020… wow, I thought it is the twenty-eighth… Thursday?  Good.  No call, no text, no email from Bob.  I called him.  Left a voicemail.  He, so far, hasn’t returned my call.  I mean, whoa; is he all that busy?

It’s okay; I’m writing one anyway.  Work ethic.   Still, it’s shorter than usual.  Stay safe and you might not die.  Yet.  See?  Not sticky, gooey, sugary, oversentimental.

Here’s BONUS material, written by me, alone, at my computer:  I’ve been thinking about some future when some random COVID 19 SURVIVOR (and they’ll all being wearing hats thusly labeled, inside their bubble headgear) says, “Yeah, man; at the concerts, back in those days, we’d be watching the groupies on the side of the stage while the bands played; and we’d crowd down into the mosh pit and just get so crazy…”

Concerts? Groupies? Bands? Crowd? Mosh Pit?  Crazy.   

Stay safe, stay back, save lives.

“Sideslipping”& Competition

One of the effects of the omni-demic is that, for surfers, the chess board has been upended, the playground closed.

So, surfers can’t compete in the water when the water is off limits. Competition. Poor us. I started thinking about several aspects of competition, and discussing the competition aspect of our sport with several of my surfing friends. Specifically, I’ve been working some sort of scale in which a surfer can judge where he or she fits in a sort of, think fractions here, competitiveness over butthurtness equation.

Because we’re not equal. Yeah, I’m working on it; don’t claim to have it worked out. I’m trying to judge COMPETITIVENESS without factoring in actual surfing ability. This is, obviously, because one might be more competitive as one improves. I would also love to separate aggressiveness from competitiveness, so, there’s another problem.

THE NUMERATOR- One to nine, if you’re hyper-competitive in the water, give yourself a ONE. Well, that’d be kind of cocky of you. If you believe you’re a one, lie, give yourself a TWO. I really can’t imagine any surfer would give him or herself a nine, so, if you’re the surfer waiting near the channel, smiling as some wavehog paddles past you for the many-ist time, or someone not going out if the surf is good and just kind of crowded, you might give yourself an eight.

I’m giving myself a THREE, meaning, code-breakers, I really think I’m a TWO.

THE DENOMINATOR- So, BUTTHURTNESS. Where you might fit on this scale is determined by whether you’re prone to occasional screaming in the lineup, pouting in the parking area, quite obviously suffering in silence, board-punching, writing rude comments on windshields in wax, any acts of violence and/or vandalism, and, sort of a side consideration; how long you hold a grudge for wave sins you feel where perpetuated against you.

You can list these crimes against you. If your list is really long, if you have a large group of named surfers you hate, if you pretty much hate anyone else who is in the water with you, you may have earned a ONE.

Now, I was going to give myself a NINE, but, really, I have had a few resentments in the fifty-five years since I began board surfing. Warren Bolster once blatantly took off next to me at Swamis. It was my wave; I had position. It was probably about 1971, but, though I remember it, I figured he was probably frustrated because he’d been photographing rather than surfing, and maybe a bit over-zealous.

And I have definitely been guilty of OVERFROTHING. I’m still giving myself an EIGHT, though I’d love to be a NINE. Working on it.

WAIT, here’s a little more to back up my self-devised, non-reduceable (a 2/8 is not a 1/4) score: When I lost my paddle and it turned up stuck in the pilings and no one on the beach would fess up or give up the culprit, and he was, in fact, deemed, by popular opinion, a hero for getting even with the ruthless wavehog, I do admit to whining, complaining, pouting, with some threat to get even; but, when the perpetrator confessed, I immediately (well not quite immediately) forgave him. When I occasionally run into Raja, it’s all over, a fun story. “You’re still a hero, I’m still a wavehog.”

OKAY, I am still thinking about COMPETITIVENESS. I will concentrate on “Is competitiveness a bad thing?” ANOTHER TIME. MEANWHILE, here’s another outtake from “Swamis,” still in the massive edit phase. “SIDESLIPPING”

*The word ‘punk,’ evidently, comes from Elizabethan/Shakespearean times, referring to prostitutes; updated to include petty criminals in the early nineteen-hundreds, with a secondary meaning added in American prisons in which punks were prisoners available, willingly or not, for sexual favors.  ‘Kook’ supposedly is a synonym for shit in Hawaiian, has come to mean someone who isn’t proficient.  Shitty. A friend of mine, one who has spent enough time in Hawaii to risk using some pidgin if in the right company, informs me ‘donkey’ has become a synonym for kook, even cooler when a bit of a bray is included, as in, ‘donnnnnk,’ the final ‘ey’ optional.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

MEXICAN INFLECTION

‘Mexican inflection?’ I wouldn’t have meant this in any derogatory way, necessarily; but, if there is a California inflection; it comes from the mixture of Spanish and the many languages of everyone else who came here; pathfinders and cowboys and gold seekers and Oakies, post-war migrants like my parents, and, I guess, me.  One cannot deny the Mexican influence, flattened and foreshortened by all the rest of us.

And then there’s the black and gay influence: Words and phrasing and phrases; how we thought gays and black people talked; exaggerated, co-opted, stirred into the California lexicon, the California dialect, the California inflection.

Still, the Mexican influence cannot be denied.

Surfers, of course, had to be a bit different; speak with a different rhythm, introduce new words.  You know the words.  The attitude, the surfer attitude, is probably more your idea than reality; exaggerated and perverted and spread by TV and movies and advertisers.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

*The word ‘punk,’ evidently, comes from Elizabethan/Shakespearean times, referring to prostitutes; updated to include petty criminals in the early nineteen-hundreds, with a secondary meaning added in American prisons in which punks were prisoners available, willingly or not, for sexual favors.  ‘Kook’ supposedly a synonym for shit in Hawaiian, has come to mean someone who isn’t proficient.  Shitty. A friend of mine, one who has spent enough time in Hawaii to risk using some pidgin if in the right company, informs me ‘donkey’ has become a synonym for kook, even cooler when a bit of a bray is included, as in, ‘donnnnnk,’ the final ‘ey’ optional.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“SIDESLIPPING” YOUR WAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SIDESLIPPING- OUTTAKES FROM “SWAMIS”

Here we go:

SO FUCK-ING COOL… MAN

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

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

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

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

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

“Uh huh.”

“Class of, uh, a second…”

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

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

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

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

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

“Pack of matches, too; please.”

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

I didn’t think.  “Yeah, I am.”

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

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

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

“And you, sir?” he asked of Gordy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Class of ’71.  Yea!

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

——————————————————————————————————————————-

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

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Pan This Damn-Demic

For a small time contractor in the Pacific Northwest, it’s been kind of like a continuation of winter, but with better weather.

Not so much fun. Hope you’re staying safe. The new equivalent of Aloha, of hello and goodbye, seems to be “stay safe.” Backup is “six feet,” which, depending on how loud one says it, also means “Backup!”

Not really what I want to write about. I’m working on multiple fronts on completing “Swamis,” that is, making it better. Better includes, from the feedback I’ve gotten so far, means less complicated. So, editing. Work.

MEANWHILE, I’m working on a TREATMENT, outline, first step toward something my wordy novel is perfect for, motion picture. More like a series; it’s that complex.

MEANWHILE, I’m also trying to get some illustrations together. Here are the latest:

This didn’t start out to be Chulo; now it is.

Swamis Point with some sort of bloop on the screen. Flipping Corona. No doubt. More illustrations on the way; waiting for some from Stephen R. Davis. MEANWHILE, I do need an agent. Here’s the pitch: “Swamis,” 1969.

So far it hasn’t sold itself. Working on it. Stay safe. Six feet.

More Work is, Evidently, Necessary

I’ve sent out copies of the unexpurgated version of “Swamis” to several people. This waiting for a response, as noted in an earlier post, tends to push one further into the area of neurosis previously only visited for, say, a long weekend. That was before the omni-demic pushed the boundaries of crazzzzzinesssss to the place where we are now.

So, if I’m a bit more crazed, maybe, statistically, I’m pretty much where I was. If some of us could just go surfing, then, maybe, perhaps, then… we…

Anyway, I have gotten some feedback; and it’s mostly that I need to make “Swamis” less confusing, less prone to jumping forward and backward in time and place, fewer peripheral scenes; more reader friendly. I already knew I would have to drop some of the side stories. The thing is, I have enough of those to write another book. Maybe I will.

“Side-slipping.”

Meanwhile, I am trying to get some more drawings together, hopefully enough to put in with each chapter. Since I need to break the manuscript into more chapters, I evidently need more illustrations. I do have Stephen R. Davis working on a few; and we have discussed the look I’m going for. Black and white, kind of moody… I’m hoping he can do some real portraits of fictional people.

I’ve also discussed formatting and such things with my daughter, Dru, pressing her into service to help put together a slide show of my illustrations (not just surf stuff) that can be shown to folks who are willing to listen to a reading from “Swamis” without having to also look at me reading it. This is for a presentation with the Port Townsend Library, set up by surf rebel librarian Keith Darrock. Not set up yet; we’re working on it.

I’ll let you know, but, meanwhile, out here in crazy land, I am putting a lot of thought into the screenplay version. Too much for a movie. Prime Netflix stuff. It just takes more work. Evidently.

In Order to have Faith…

…one must believe faith works. Sometimes. Ever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

working on some illustrations for “Swamis”