“SWAMIES”- INSIDE THE LINEUP

I continue to be baffled by computers, and get tangled and confused even with tasks I’ve previously performed successfully; like transferring something from the 35,000 plus words I’ve written so far on my novel, “Swamis.”

BUT, this particular chapter with actual surfing in it, which was set earlier in the narrative, had to be moved, just to lessen confusion for readers, from around page 42 to somewhere in the high 50s.  I was able to highlight, copy, and transfer the words, intact, but three attempts to move it from the thumb drive too realsurfers, doing some refining each time, failed.

AND I lost the changes.

SO, here I am typing it onto the site.  I do have some other actual surfing in the manuscript, and plan on writing more, and (spoiler alert) the novel will come to some sort of conclusion during the famous December 1969 swell, though probably not on Big Wednesday.  Maybe on ‘Still Good’ Friday.

REMEMBER, although I surfed Swamis every day during the swell, with varying degrees of success, “Swamis” is still a work of fiction.  That is, the story and characters are fictional, mostly; THE WAVES ARE REAL.

INSIDE THE LINEUP

Jumper was the farthest surfer out, sitting on the Boneyards side of the outside peak, looking at the horizon.  There was a pack on the safer side of where most waves would start to break. As always. Swamis.  There was that string of surfers, with another pack in the vicinity of the inside peak.  At this tide, probably a third, or so, of the waves, the bigger waves, would connect all the way across.

Jumper seemed to feel someone approaching, or he heard the splash and glide of my paddling. He didn’t look around, but rotated his board enough to catch me in his peripheral vision.

“You didn’t call… could have called Tony; given me a head’s up.”

“Figured you’d know.”

I did. “I did. Of course. Cardiff’s… the parking lot is full, and…”

“So it must be good. Huh?”

A line on the horizon started to thicken, darken, take form; a wall, the peak of it fifty yards over from me, farther for Jumper. I could see the lineup come alive; surfers dropping to prone, paddling out and toward us.

“Number three,” Jumper said. “Block for me.”

“Fuck you, Jumper,” I said, stroking hard, out and toward the first wave.  I looked-off three guys also trying to get in position, turned, sank the tail of my board, stroked hard, and took off. I dropped in, made the down-the-line bottom turn, knowing, if it didn’t look like I would make the first section, shoulder-hoppers would take off.  If they didn’t kno0w wave etiquette, didn’t know who I was, or didn’t care, some fool might drop in anyway.

Some surfers, taking off from the outside (weirdly enough, called the ‘inside’ position- closest to the peak) will whistle at the attempted interlopers, or yell something like, “I’m on it!”  Or something harsher. I tried to resist those urges; but I had been known to come as close to any surfer dropping in that… maybe it was an intimidation tactic. Maybe.

I was more likely to just yell, “Go!”

I leaned hard into another bottom turn, looking off two new scrappers. I aimed for a place high on the steepening wave; hit it, tucked into a short tube. Then, while I’m trying to deal with the board speed on a weakening shoulder, someone did drop in.

“Fuck!” I tried to cutback, couldn’t, fell sideways, awkwardly, trying to fall onto my board, or, at least, close enough to grab it.

Nope.  The guy who dropped in, totally unaware (probably) that he was almost hit by my board, (probably) had one of the best rides of his surf life; while I hoped my board would pop up within a swimmable distance before the second wave of the set hit. Nope. Almost there, then… whoosh; more swimming.

Three kooks were sharing the second wave, which had, as I would have predicted, swung wider, more toward the inside peak.  The guy in front stayed in front, the guy in middle tried to stay in position, the back guy (who should have had priority) got (and this is pretty standard, though, sometimes the front guy pulls out- etiquette)  knocked off the wave. I ducked under rather than (and this would have been good etiquette) making a grab for his board.

The third wave, number three; that was the wave. Of course. I just stopped swimming, turned around, bouncing in the eel grass on the ledges, keeping my head above water. I watched Jumper backdoor the peak; tucked-in, covered; emerging, still high on the wave, most of his body above the lip, backlit for a mind-extended moment; then unweighting, redirecting, s-turning while dropping to the bottom. He leaned forward and into the wave, body stretched-out, front hand pointing down the line.

As the inside section formed, he kick-stalled (another freeze-frame-moment in the flow), crouched, and disappeared again.

Some gremmie retrieved my bo0ard, shoved it out to me, just as Jumper finished his ride with an in-the-closeout island pullout, the tailblock of his board coming quite close to me.

He brushed back the water, pulled the hair out of his eyes. “No, fuck you, Jody.”

“Nice ride, man. Number three. Outside peak. Why’d I doubt?”

“Because you, my friend, lack faith.”

“”We’re not friends.”

Another set caused us both to wait, reef-dancing on the finger ledges. “We are. I am the best fucking friend you’ve got.” He tapped me on the chest. A little too hard; looking for my reaction.

“Then, friend; why didn’t you tell me?”

“You’re the detective.”

“Fuck you… again, man. You heard Dickson. ‘There ain’t no eighteen-year-old detectives.’ Right? Stoolies, narcs, informants. Undercover, um, agents.  Not interested. But you…”

“Yeah, me. Me; I am interested. Stoolie, narc, informant, undercover… yeah.  And you, you need to stay away.” My expression, evidently, changed. Way too readable. “You aren’t going to… stay away.” Nope.  “You should.”

We both saw the break in the waves, the chance to paddle back out. We both leapt onto our boards. Jumper almost instantly jumped off his, blocked me from paddling. “First of all, Joseph; you were interested. Second, it was me who said ‘eighteen-year-old detectives.’ Dickson thought you were still seventeen. Friends.”

Image (91)

Jumper got back onto his board, paddled through a wave and toward the channel. He paddled toward the pack at the inside peak, past the shoulder-hoppers and the scrappers, past the sitters, the channel markers, those folks afraid to go on set waves, afraid to get caught inside.  Those who knew who Jumper was would, if in his direct path, move aside, their feet moving like ducks, rotating.

I tried to paddle out inside (closer to shore) the pack, and got caught by a four wave set. I had almost made it past and through to the outside when an older guy (probably pushing thirty), but an obvious beginner (stink but stance, big arm movements) from Escondido (at least that’s where his license plate frame said he bought his flashy black Monte Carlo), wearing out-of-date, out-of-fashion jams over his wetsuit (for modesty, perhaps, but totally impractical- they wouldn’t ride up, almost instantly rip out) had to fall on his flashy board to avoid hitting me.  His anger only added to mine.

“Fucking paddle around, Kook,” he yelled. Hand signals were added; big arm movements. “Don-cha-fuckin’ know nothin?”

I chose not to be angry. “Sorry, sir. You were… (I made a smooth hand/forearm gesture) surfing so very well. Sir.” Nice guy/apologetic smile.

“Um. Oh. Well. Oh? Yeah?”  I nodded. He smiled.  Now he had a story. “Well; next time…”

I was already paddling, again, taking the inside route.

 

 

Illustration for “Swamis”

If I get up early enough, I do some work on the novel; but I rarely get up early enough to get very far past the pages I’ve already written. Editing, changing; maybe adding another page.

And then, while working, I think about where it’s all going, think of new plot twists, new names for characters. I actually love this part; it’s like thinking about past surfing sessions, checking the forecast for the future.

It’s interesting how a pretty mediocre session, over time, over time without waves, gets a higher rating in the memory loop. Rides were tighter, turns were hit harder, waves were longer, a little bigger.  One difference here is, I can go back and edit, change, hopefully improve the drawings and the writing.

Past sessions. Yeah, those just get better with age

Here’s my illustration, the first, actually, for “Swamis.”

Image (91)

Subject to change, of course

SWAMIS- In Progress

SWAMIS

nixon

On June 8, 1969, President Richard M. Nixon said 25,000 troops would be out of Vietnam by August.

SECOND WEEK OF JUNE, 1969

Almost leaping from stair to stair, I was looking at the water, the fuzzy horizon, the lines; counting, then recounting the surfers already in the water; trying to beat any other surfers who missed the true dawn patrol. Swamis was, finally, it seemed, breaking; tide dropping; swell, hopefully, increasing. It would get crowded.

Two surfers were walking from halfway up the point, along the water’s edge. I wasn’t focused on them; they were shapes, so familiar; surfer and board, nose-up or nose-down, more-or-less crosses in the grainy light, the shadows of the bluff. One was walking faster, trying to catch up. “June,” I heard, or thought I heard; then, more like a question, “Junipero?” Then, closer to the guy in front of him; “Jumper.”

“Jumper,” I thought. Jumper. Now I almost focused.

Almost. It was a moment, still just a moment, between a surfer reaching for, and touching the other man’s shoulder- it was Sid, reaching; Sid, a locally-known surfer; Surfboards Hawaii team rider; known to thrash his boards; known to take on crazy waves, to burn valley cowboys and out-of-town surfers, even Orange County magazine surf stars down to trade crowded beach breaks for a chance at Swamis point break magic- Sid, featured in a small, grainy, black and white ad in “Surfer” magazine.

I must have blinked. Sid was flat-out, on his back, parallel to that line where the sand turned hard with the receding tide. His board was floating in the shallows, Jumper’s board pressed, nose-first, to his neck; Jumper’s foot on his chest.

Jumper. Fucking Jumper. He was back in town, back at Swamis.

If we could just ‘backspace’ time ten seconds, not all the time, but for those moments we witnessed but couldn’t immediately process. Maybe ‘replay’ is more accurate. Ten seconds.

Fifty years gone, I’m trying to replay moments, bits and fragments and images and strings; strings of time; so many strings; some tangled, some free.

Oh, I broke free of the North County scene years ago; lost my contacts, forgot names, confused and overlapped stories from Grandview and Pipes and Cardiff Reef. I do still remember specific rides among thousands; remember, almost precisely, the times I was injured; held down, hit the bottom, was hit by someone else’s board; but, and I’ve tried, I can’t remember Sid’s last name.

But I remember Jumper.

In another moment, with me even with them, trying to be cool, to not look, both surfers were sitting on Jumper’s board. Peripheral vision. No, I probably did turn my head. Never was cool.

Jumper’s hair was shorter than mine, but, even with the patchy start of a beard; he was recognizable, the same guy from, probably, four years earlier, back when I was just switching from surf mats to boards; back when he caught any wave he wanted any time he showed up.  The Army or prison; stories about his disappearance varied; rumors among high school friends who quoted various upper classmen, scattered pieces from other people’s beachfire conversations.

“I heard he moved to Hawaii,” or, “No, Buttwipe; Australia. Or New Zealand.” Or, “Chicago.” “No fucking way.”  “San Francisco, then.” “Nooooo.”

Then someone would go into a Jumper surf impression, with play-by-play commentary, on any nearby surfboard; Right arm back, elbow cocked, hand like a conductor’s, flowing with the up-and-down movements on the imagined wave; subtle, the left arm lower, hand out flat; punctuated with, rather than the classic cross step to the nose, the quick shuffle, the jump; then a crouch and a shift to a more parallel stance, right hand in the wave, left hand grabbing the outside rail. Twist, weight forward; the fin would pop out of the sand.

“Island pullout.”

Someone else would repeat the performance, only, left foot on the tip in a solid five, upper torso shifting to face the wave, arms spreading wide; he would pull the skeg, make the rotation, yell, “Standing island pullout”, and shuffle back on the board, casually drop to his knees, ready to paddle out.

Yes, I participated in this. Yes, I tried to develop that “Jumper” conductor-dancer flow on my skateboard, pivoting, slaloming down my block, on inland hills, miles from the ocean. I had a long enough board, eventually, to go with the cross step; more like Phil Edwards, Micky Dora.

Style.

Jumper was probably my second surf hero. Maybe third. Heroes dominated lineups, kooks and kids gave way, gave waves, watched them.  Now Jumper was, quite possibly, crying, one hand on Sid’s shoulder, one of Sid’s on his. It was Sid who looked around at me with a ‘fuck off’ look.

Peripheral. No, I’d looked back.

I looked away, kept walking.  Still only a short distance away, I did what every surfer does, and always has; studied the ocean for a moment before committing; disciple before the alter.

When I looked back, from out in the water, from my lineup, the inside lineup, Sid and Jumper were half way up the stairs. Sid was one step ahead, one above. When two guys came down, Sid, probably because he didn’t know them, or because he did, made the down-stair surfers split up and go around.  Jumper moved behind Sid’s block.

A set approached. Surfers, who had been straddling their boards in the lull, dropped to prone, started paddling. At this tide, some of the waves from the outside peak were still connecting all the way through. The first one didn’t; the surfer on it lost behind a section. Two surfers went for the shoulder as I stroked past. The second wave swung wide, peaked-up on the inside. I had it to myself; another takeoff, drop, turn, cutback, back and forth to the inside inside, fitting my board into and through that last little power pocket, peeling over the palm of the finger slabs that opened to the sea. A little standing island pullout into the swampy grass. Swamis.

 

THIRD WEEK OF JUNE, 1969

1948-Noahs-Ark-Cafe

If the Noah’s Ark trailer park wasn’t still there, there on the north end of Leucadia, yet another trailer park squatted up against yet another bluff along 101, protected from the south winds; if it wasn’t still there in 1969; it had been there on those trips with my family, down the coastal route to San Diego.

I understand there’s a jetty there now; Ponto.

I also can’t clearly remember if the fields north of Grandview, the original Grandview, the fields along those bluffs were fields of tomatoes or strawberries. I know there were no houses. There were the Leucadia greenhouses. Flowers. It was what Leucadia was known for. Poinsettias.

Maybe not these particular greenhouses.

Turning off 101, I drove past several. One, and this had been pointed out to me by several of my high school surfing buddies, belonged to the family of Jumper Hayes. On this morning, still dark, what the forecasters called ‘early morning and evening overcast,’ or ‘June gloom’ hanging on, almost misty; I saw Jumper’s old pickup, almost-flat paint a weird shade of green in the light of the yard lamp, parked outside one of the greenhouses. Only the tail, fin over the tailgate, showed this farm rig was a surfer’s vehicle.

I gave myself a bit of a self-congratulatory nod, a quick smack on the shifter, three-on-the-tree; double-clutched down to second, gunned it.

It had become my workday predawn move, up and down Neptune, checking out Grandview, Beacons, Stone Steps; possibly surfing whichever one had a more consistent peak. Or a peak at all.  If it was bigger, big enough, I would push the fourth-hand Chevy four door farther, along the bluff, the increasingly-fancy houses blocking any view of the water, past Moonlight, down and around the Self Realization compound, to Swamis.

Or, depending on my hours; if it was still light when I got off work, I would turn onto 101 at Cardiff reef, pass the state park, try to get a glimpse of Swamis over the guardrail. If it was breaking big enough, you could see it. I would hit the parking lot and get out. Even if it was dark, I’d check the view from Boneyards, past what my high school friends and I called Swamis Beachbreak, onto and beyond Pipes.

And then back. And repeat. Maybe there’d be some last-lighters, still hanging in the parking lot; their stories of new and past glories punctuated with a hoot or a laugh; headlights and streetlights in a descending darkness and a dim glow from the horizon.

Swamis was where I wanted to surf. June gloom or bright offshore glare; breaking or not. What I felt, and was totally aware of feeling, was that my choice of route and destination was mine, mine alone; that I was pretty fuckin’ close to being free.

Within reason, of course.

NOTE: 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, Gordie, from my high school at a liquor store in Vista. He now, suddenly, sporting long hair (longer- Fallbrook had a dress code and we’d just graduated), parted in the middle (of course), and clothing that denied his quite-upper class upbringing. “We just don’t fuck-ing see each other, man; like, like we used to.” And he was, obviously, stoned, an even more-stoned girl, possibly still in high school, headband, boutique-chic top, nodding, eyes unable to focus, next to him. Gordie put a hand on my shoulder. I looked at his hand, put my package of Hostess donettes and quart of milk on the counter, pointed to a pack of Marlboros, turned back to Gordie. He sort of gave me a look when I scooped up the cigarettes. “I know man, Gordie; you probably don’t fuck-ing smoke… cigarettes.” He and the girl both giggled. So uncool. “Peace, man.”

Yeah, flipping the peace sign was probably pretty much over, also.

My relative freedom isn’t, perhaps, relevant to the story. Maybe it is; these were times when ‘freedom’ and ‘peace’ and ‘revolution’ were frequently used in the same sentence. For someone just out of high school, working various shifts at a supermarket with a view of the ocean; joy and loneliness and a sense of being part of some magical mystery could all be felt in a very short span of time; and repeated, randomly. Mysteries.

Why, I had been asking myself, did Sid call Jumper ‘June,’ with a hard J; not a H sound. If his real name was Jesus; well, anyone would instantly know it’s not Jesus, like Jesus Christ, but Hey-Seuss, like Hey, Doctor Seuss, dropping the ‘doctor.’

Mysteries ask to be solved. Beg, perhaps. Rumors. Surfing, waves, surfing waves was a mystery. Board surfing was more than just drop and hang on. Tamarack was obvious; one peak in front of the bathrooms on the bluff, a bit of a channel; a parking lot at beach level. Good place to learn; sit on the shoulder; wait, watch, study; move toward the peak; a bit closer with each session. Get yelled at; get threatened; learn.

Eventually, you would have to challenge someone for a wave.

But there were always rumors of better waves, great waves, magical and secret spots, places uncool  freshmen kooks weren’t supposed to know about, weren’t supposed to show up at.

Grandview was fairly easy to find. There was a Grandview Street off 101 in Leucadia. Still, when I showed up there with my friends, now sophomores, we got looks. Punks, Kooks; not ready for Grandview.  The hardest looks were from other San Marcos, Vista, Fallbrook, Escondido surfers; other inland cowboys.

ANOTHER NOTE (SORRY): Inlandness was in direct proportion to distance from the coast. Where I lived we called Escondido Mexican-dido. That was, of course, insensitive; maybe; but I understand Meth-condido has replaced it.

As with, probably, anywhere, in order to fit in, you had to persist. I did. As my contemporaries and I searched out new locations; San Onofre, occasionally Oceanside; as some dropped surfing, traded it for parties fueled with liquor purchased by Marines, marijuana bought from friends of friends, I had become another surf addict; and Grandview was still on my route.

By the end of my senior year, I had become accustomed to going surfing alone.

And now, here I was, almost a local, slipping and sliding down the more-sand-than-sandstone between houses, original Grandview, the real Grandview; and ahead of the ultimate local, back after four years or so, Jumper Hayes.

Just ahead.

Peace and freedom and revolution.

MAY OF 1969-

I have to drop back for a moment. The story hinges on this. Chulo Lopez had been killed, murdered. His real name wasn’t Chulo; nickname; I can’t remember his real first name. It was in the paper, even on the San Diego TV news.  “Horrific” the reporter said.  “The Sheriff’s Office said he was probably dead… probably… when his body was ‘posed’ against the thick white walls of the Self Realization Fellowship compound, doused with gasoline, and set ablaze. Set ablaze.”

The reporter stepped aside. The blackened areas on the white white walls formed a sort of outline, similar to that around a candle. The TV camera followed the burn marks up to the gold bulbs atop the wall. There was a sort of symmetry, a repetition.  “Set ablaze.”

The walls were back to white when I next went to Swamis, against my parents’ warnings, two days later. It was a Saturday. Weekend. A predicted swell hadn’t materialized, a south wind was blowing. Maybe it would clean up, even get bigger. So, wait. Surfers I knew well enough to give or return a half-nod, four of five guys, one girl, were sitting on the guard rail; a small carton of orange juice or chocolate milk in their hands; maybe a cold piece of pizza; one or another of them glancing back toward the compound.

I lit up a cigarette, noticed none of them were smoking, squeezed the cherry out, pulled the donette package out of my windbreaker pocket. Frosted, never chocolate.

It seems wrong to me, now, it’s obviously wrong; but, somehow, when I was a teenager, it seemed all the surfers were somewhere around my age. Some younger kooks, some older surfers. Not many; or maybe I just didn’t focus on them; maybe the ones who were well known; names spread through a parking lot or lineup: L.J. Richards, Mike Doyle, Rusty Miller; surfers you would definitely keep track of; just to see if they were all that good. Better. Were they better?

How much better?

But these were days of evolution in surfing; shorter boards, more radical moves, backyard soul shapers, V bottoms and downrail speed machines; and the new heroes were younger; more like my age; s-turns and tube stalls and 180 cutbacks.

“Chulo,” someone said. In my memory there was a sort of muffled chorus, “Chulo,” from the surfers on the guardrail. “They’re saying it’s some sort of cult thing. Maybe it’s related to… you know, those monks burning themselves up over in Vietnam.”

May of 1966, in protest of corrupt Vietnamese Regime…

It was an older man, Wally; who threw pots for a living; sold them wholesale up in L.A. He had walked from the direction of the outhouse (still there at that time) and the stairs (probably two other systems since then), stood between the bluff and the guardrail surfers. There were a couple of us in the parking lot. Second tier.

“Jesus freaks,” someone said, actually more like a question…

 

Inside Break- Reboot

INSIDE BREAK- SOMETHING CLOSE TO NON-FICTION
THIS IS AT LEAST THE FOURTH TIME I have attempted to write this story. I always got stuck on the fact/fiction thing, partially because I didn’t want to get too personal with people who might not want this intrusion; partially because any attempt at biographical non fiction, because of memory lapses, point of view skewed in one direction or another, detail editing, many other reasons, becomes fiction. So, fine; I will attempt to remain as truthful as possible.
WRITING IS REMEMBERING as much as it is creating; maybe more. Forgotten events, suddenly, while thinking of/writing a particular story, spring loose from whatever kink or coil of brain wiring they were stuck in: Example I stole (one way of looking at it) Phillip Harper’s car (an oil-burning/leaking Corvair) in Baja (Easter Break, 1968) while he was sick and our other friends were unwilling get up early to try (again) to surf the rock-strewn closeout beachbreak out in front, or to leave the big and over-crowded tent to surf one of several legitimate point breaks we’d seen on the way down.
Though I remembered we were staying at a place on the beach, featuring a trailer park, a motel, and a cantina that looked like a gas station, which it may also have been, I couldn’t immediately remember the name of the place. We were actually mostly staying in someone’s parents big tent just outside the trailer park. Though Phillip’s stepfather had the use of a trailer for Phillip, his brother Max, stepbrother Mark, and invited friends Ray, Melvin, and me; because Dana and Billy and Mark had invited themselves along) earlier, I couldn’t remember the name of the place when I started writing this, but, because I was sure I’d driven the borrowed Corvair to K-54, but wasn’t sure that was actually correct, I went to the computer.  Cantamar. Or course. Still there.                                                             Hmm; was it K-55? Surfline claims that K-55 is a reef break, and I’m sure this was a point break. I did, perhaps, catch a few waves; pretty big ones, then lost my board trying to roll under one (term, at that time, ‘turning turtle’). I can, actually, vividly recall the board (the 9’9″ Surfboards Hawaii noserider, ‘found’ buried in the sand at Tamarack by some member of the Brooks family, from down Debby Street from my house, when they were grunion hunting, and given to me by Wendy Brooks’ father, over her objections, when they moved back to Texas) getting ripped from my hands; the lesson being, ‘keep your grip tight but your arms flexible.’
Just to finish this part of the story, Phillip wasn’t too sick to join up with the others, Dana’s old Corvair wagon and Ray’s (actually, as with my house a few sentences back, the cars may have been owned by parents, though they were pretty crappy vehicles) Ranchero suddenly, and dramatically pulling into the dirt lot, skidding, stopping near me, six highschool age (most of us were juniors, Billy, younger brother of a contemporary for whom surfing didn’t stick, may have been a sophomore, even a freshman) surfers bailing out as I secured the board with the newly-acquired ding onto the Aloha racks. “Your mom said I could take it,” I said Or may have; something to the effect. “You were in the motel with your mom and sister (Trish. not my Trish, but prominent in the bigger story); she didn’t want to wake you up.” This was interrupted and followed by a chorus of “fuck you,” that, eventually, by “How was it?” and “How did you do?”                                                          They hadn’t brought boards. We caravanned back to camp, later surfed some blown-out beachbreak south of Ensenada; though, maybe the next day, in the afternoon, the usual closeouts at Cantamar were lifted by genuine offshore winds.                                                    Better. Much better. I had convinced/forced Max and Mark, into filming; mostly me, with my super 8 camera.
Later, I put some of the footage together, showed it at school, several times; narrated by, of course, me. “Hanging ten? Hard to tell in the glare. Let’s say…yes.” There was a part where some of us are hanging out around a table outside the trailer. This was just after (not caught on film) Trish played footsie with me, and I, shocked, jumped; and she asked Ray, “How’s he ever going to get a girlfriend?” and I said (or should have, or could have, or wish I had), “Well, try it again;” and Ray, of course, sided with her on the girlfriend issue. And there was no way she’d ever do it again. No.                                                                               So, a bit of smoke from an unseen cigarette (this was before I’d had my first one) is visible in the movie version, to which I always said, “It was very cold down there.” It got a laugh; though not, after the first showing, from Ray.

insidebreakgoodversion 001

OBVIOUSLY I GET SIDETRACKED too easily. SO, I’m going to get to, and try to stick to the story of one trip from Fallbrook, across Camp Pendleton, to San Onofre, with one of my first surfing heroes, BUCKY DAVIS. This was in the spring of 1967. Things were escalating in Vietnam, the base was crazy busy, and we, just wanting a few good waves, were edging ever closer to making critical personal decisions on life and love and war and surfing.
BUT, don’t expect a laser focus. There’s just too much overlap with other trips and other stories. I’m at this moment, stuck on whether or not Bill Buel was on that trip to Cantamar. I’ve long replaced him in my own version of the San Onofre trip with Ray, with whom I made many other surf trips (mostly because I never liked, and even had some resentment or fear of Bill Buel).                                                                                                           And, once it was Ray with Phillip and me, me riding (for once) shotgun, in Bucky’s VW bus; the story definitely became fiction. So, Bill’s back in. This should be easier.
SO, NEAR-NON-FICTION.

Susceptible

“‘The music,’ he said, he always said, always said, ‘is in the words. Pause. The words, one, the words, one, two, the words. Pause. The music, one, is in, one two, the, one, two, three, words.’ He was right.”
“No. No. I’ll, uh, admit… he had the genius thing you and I didn’t… poor us; had to earn shit; but he was always… I’ll pause here, not to sound, um, musical or anything, always… susceptible. It’s why he got screwed up originally, why he became a Jesus Freak, it’s why he got back into drugs again. Enlightened. Geez. Like, because he could drop too much acid and still seem, uh, lucid, lucid to his drugged-out and, on drugs or not, dumb-ass friends. Geez. Assholes. White trash… He thought; on the drugs thing… God, man; I don’t know what he fuckin’ thought. He thought it was easy. He thought it was all good fun. He thought wrong.”
“You’re right. Susceptible. I always thought; always believed, maybe, he… he was… was he, maybe, ni-eve? Or maybe we were because we believed in the whole ‘work hard and you’ll succeed’ bullshit.”
“Oh. Oh; yeah; yes. Definitely. Us not him. Sure. Sure, but, man; we’re still alive, still struggling. Moreover… is ‘moreover’ the right word here?
“Probably. Moreover?”
“Moreover, what he was was, mostly, he was…susceptible.”
“Susceptible? (there’s a long pause here, during which my youngest brother and I look at each other, look at several surfboards leaned up against a wall in my garage) Yeah, sure. Susceptible.”
SUSCEPTIBLE
My brother, our brother; no, he wasn’t a musician, wasn’t a poet’, maybe; probably wasn’t more than a guy who wanted to form some kind of life that included surfing whenever it was good. I don’t have to argue with our other brother about this; he’s right. Sidney took the easy way out. Well, what he thought was easy. It worked for him; for a while. I still have the board Sid gave me; classic Surfboards Hawaii pintail; no longer the clean white with the fine pin stripe at the overlap, the dings from a couple of sessions at that reef break that really wasn’t a surf spot (but was never crowded) still not patched. Still, since I have this outlet, such as it is, before I go over the story (and it’s a story I’ve told, I’ve written, I’ve re-written); let me publish something my brother did write. Maybe it is poetry. Maybe it’s just words and pauses, that, if read out loud, as poetry should be read; and, say, try this- slur over the words, because, and my brother also believed this, even the actual words aren’t as important as the music- maybe it is music.
CAR CHASE
A car door will not stop a bullet;
A door and a femur will,
There is pain; the numbness, alleged, promised, that is a lie;
Another lie.
With every car that passes I feel, or hear;
No longer able to discern a difference;
The sound of a wave;
That first sound.
Oh, that’s it, that’s right;
The same bullet that only pierced the front windshield,
My car charging the roadblock, my head down,
Hoping the motor might stop a bullet or two;
That bullet (or those bullets) took out the back window;
Collapsed: diamond chunks not blown out crumbled.
And now, headed for the sea; whoosh;
I hear the sea, whoosh; I hear the sea.
Closer.
*Syd

That was fiction. He’d left the back hatch open on his van, imagined the rest. He knew he was running. Or, more correctly, he felt like he’d been running, though he was really just hiding a darker reality behind his visible life with whatever screen** and story*** and as much sheen he could afford. For a while, it was all pretty damn shiny; surf trips, friends with names we might read in a magazine or hear on TV, vehicles that were so impractical, surfboards one should hang on a wall ridden and given as gifts. Secret gifts too good to give back. Or up.
*Changed, by Sid, from Sid, short for Sidney. Yeah; of course. **I’m thinking the facade of a house just west of 101. ***Fictions about background, actual income sources, actual investments, actual relatives; just about everything.
Oh, and I must now say this is fiction. Just a story. Don’t go looking for real life equivalents, for ‘based-on’s, though, yes, the ‘whoosh’ from Sidney’s piece (he only thought he was being chased, only imagined being shot); I did use that in a piece already posted, on the sounds of a rainy Seattle. I stole it; sure; but really, I remembered it, and I believed it to be true. Truth.

SUSCEPTIBLE-     Part One- The Devil and the Fear of Darkness
I couldn’t save Sidney. Roger couldn’t save him. By the time Roger called me about the desert airplane drop and the intercept of the small plane, and the attempted bust and the shootout and the escape, Sidney not among the bodies at the… he called it a ‘showdown,’ two guys in a four wheel drive at the junction on miles of dirt roads and the only highway back, two bodies and bags of recovered drugs when the showdown was over; when he realized the escaped member of the party, the guy the other guys tried to kill when they thought he had ratted them out; when he just knew that guy had to be Sidney, possibly wounded, but not at the scene…
“Hi, Laurie; Roger. How’s everything? You barbequing?”
“No. I know you think that’s what we suburbanites…”
“Is my brother around?”
“What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Nothing.”
But it was something.
“Don’t fuck with me, Roger. What is it?” The pause here is probably twenty seconds. That’s a long telephone pause. Still pausing, waiting. “It’s Sidney. Sidney, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. So… yeah. Is Mikey around or not? I don’t have time to…”
“MIKEY!”

Years earlier, Sidney turned to Jesus when he decided his life had sunk low enough; about the time, he later told me, when he gave up sniffing glue, not so much because he could hear (or feel) his own brain cells popping, but because his partner-in-sniffing, both sharing the tube and the paper bags, had popped enough that Sidney could no longer understand him. “He was gone.” I should say ‘turned back to Jesus,’ since we all had enough of a religious upbringing to share the beJesus out of us, to convince us that we were probably, most likely, doomed. Because I like to wrap things up in some terse phrase, I began to claim that “we learned guilt and hypocrisy at an early age.” Because I was the oldest, I had to hide or deny (hypocrisy) my intense fear of the dark; because Sidney possibly learned more of the verses of the Bible, or paid more attention, he developed a fear of the actual Devil. Because Roger was much younger, and because our father died while he was younger, and because our mother met up with several (two, really) future step-fathers who couldn’t care less about religion (I was old enough they had little influence on me or my fears), Roger developed only a fear of failure. Intense, actually.
It was cool, in those days, to announce your love of the risen savior, the redeemer, the Lord; but the religion was mixed in with so many other notions that…I shouldn’t discuss religion, really; I had become free (by circumstance more than will) of the trappings and the niceties and the hypocrisy. The Jesus Freaks offered a simple message; as Jesus had; it just became more complicated when groups were formed, organization was needed.
Somewhere in this complexity, Sidney moved up, and, when other simple believers lost their enthusiasm and fell off, he moved on to other groups; cynics, paranoids, studious zealots who could find scripture to back up their own fears. And Sidney could study deeper, explain the subtleties in a seemingly-clear way. Groups became smaller; Sidney moved higher. And funds were needed. Money. The Devil Incarnate; in various incarnations; but real.
Now, it might be easy for you to compare what I just wrote about my brother did in impressing other druggies by merely being able to somewhat communicate. Fine, but, I, the brother with the fear of the dark, still think him a genius; and still feel the loose-but-real restraints of the morals I was taught, the things I believed; goodness and evil and redemption; I held to my fear of the dark; almost savored it. And, after all, my father told both of us how, back in the war, he had seen The Devil. In the Dark.

“INSIDE BREAK” The Novel- INTRODUCTION

NOTE: I started realsurfers.net to have some ownership on the two words, real surfers, and to tell the story alluded to in the introduction (below). Maybe I didn’t realize I had so many other stories to tell; maybe I didn’t realize I still have a surfing life. So, I plan on serializing the novel that fictionalizes the real story and wraps other stories around it. It will, unfortunately, be in reverse order, but, after a few chapters, interspersed with other pieces, I’ll consolidate. When it’s all done; I’ll probably change the name to “Real Surfers,” what I always wanted to be.  I did a drawing, but I didn’t think it fit the mood, didn’t want to wait until I have the time to do one I actually like, so… here we go… thanks for coming along.

INSIDE BREAK
Love and Wars and Surfing and Some Amount of Magic

INTRODUCTION-
Surfing is part of the soundtrack; whoosh, wait, wait, wait, whoosh. Always has been. Well, maybe not surf itself; but it is the tides and winds, moving in waves, and the waves themselves, maybe even time itself, another wave, spinning ever outward, all providing the heartbeat of the planet. Whoosh…wait…wait…wait…whoosh.

“So, Dad; it has to be fiction?”
“Because… you know our memories are…”
“Corrupted? Flawed? Inaccurate?”
“Hmmm. Ha. Yeah.”
“Maybe your original story could be enough. Jeez; I’ve heard it for years; headed for San Onofre; you and Phillip Harper and Ray Hicks and…”
“Dru; I’ve asked Ray. He doesn’t remember this trip. Others; yes. I think it was always Bill Buel. See? I edited him out; stuck Ray in, because Ray was… because I never liked…I mean, Bill wasn’t my friend; Ray and Phil were.”
“And you were riding with Bucky Davis, your surf hero…”
“For a while. That’s part of it. If I broke down my… shit; it’s really just another surfer coming-of-age story, but, at such an, an almost unique angle. If …and, if I could break down my surf history, to, like, chapters; it’d be illustrated with the times I went surfing with Bucky Davis. Like five or six times over five or six years. Grandview, New Break, Swami’s, the last time… your mother was there… at the beach by the state park… South Carlsbad. and part of this, this bigger story, is how my image of Bucky and…”
“Matured. And there’s the love story; Bucky and Phillip’s sister. Trish.”
“Yeah; and, again, I don’t really know. We never know about other people’s lives… or loves, and I’m such a fucking romantic, I wanted that to…”
“To work out. But that’s all… it’s the hidden story, Dad; the, um, interplay between what you thought, that so many things were magic, magical; and what was real. The, I guess, surface story, is of you guys going from Fallbrook, across Camp… Camp?”
“Camp Pendleton, 1967; the Vietnam War in full swing, and the Marines, really, were all just a couple of years older than Phil and Ray… I’m sticking with Ray, and I; and Bucky was… he was right at draft age. And the war; everyone thought, was going to go on forever.”
“Well, it didn’t. New ones. But, you know, some other stuff happened on that trip.”
“Yeah. Yeah, it did; but, this far removed, this far gone, it seems… stopped by a Highway Patrolman and hassled before we even got to the back gate, running out of gas, pushing the VW up a couple of hills, coasting down, pushing it into the little PX outpost in another tent camp as marines marched by, us all cool surfers and they ready to go to… see? It seems like fiction, even to me; like I’ve seen it before.”
“But you did. And… see, even I know the story. And you did surf at San Onofre.”
“The surfing was almost incidental; I don’t really remember it, specifically. Another session. Just like with Ray, huh?”
“But the story; it ends up at Tamarack. Tamarack, right? After Bucky tore up his Dependent ID card, and couldn’t ever go back on the base; and you’re riding shotgun… for once. Right? And Phillip and… and we’ll say Ray; they’re asleep in the back, and Dylan comes on the radio.
“It was ‘Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.’ Rare on ’67 am radio.”
“Right. And, pretty soon you’re singing along, beating on the dashboard. And pretty soon, maybe because this was the perfect song for the perfect scene; you could see and hear the waves, just about to get glassy…”
“The afternoon glassoff.”
“The soundtrack and the… the soundtrack. And now; I love this part; Bucky, so, to you, ultra cool; Bucky’s beating on the dashboard, also, and you’re both trying to sing along.
‘Everybody must get stoned.’”
“Ev-ry-bo-dy mussssst get stoned!”
“Dad?”
“Yeah?”
“Can you still see it?”
“Yeah.”
“There is magic in there somewhere.”
“Thanks. But, Dru; you know; now; because I… because real life doesn’t live up, maybe, because I’m going to steal other things I’ve seen, from other people’s lives, move things around; and, and, mostly, maybe, because I haven’t, um, lived up… it’ll be fiction.”
“Dad? Has your life contained enough… magic?”
Woosh, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait… woosh.
“Yeah.”