The Last Time I Surfed Swamis…

…yeah, it’s been years. If I hadn’t surfed some amazing spots in the years since, Swamis would still be my favorite surf break. Because it played such an important part in my surf life, from kook (1965 – now) blindly paddling for a wave that, no doubt, had someone on it; to getting a ride with Phillip Harper’s mom, parking in one of the limited spaces adjacent to the outhouse, next to a vehicle with a WindanSea decal, and Phil’s mom saying, “Oh, those Wind-an-E’-Sa guys are so nice;” to riding in the far back (facing backward, sometimes with Phillip along) of the family station wagon with my six brothers and sisters, our Mom, and later, older sister Suellen driving, five or six boards of various ages on the Aloha racks; to powering over with various friends (among them, Ray, Mark, Phillip, Bill, Billy, Bill Birt, and later, Scott and/or Jeff) after Fallbrook High School let out, hoping to snag a few waves before dark; to sleeping on the beach up against the cliffs, hoping to catch a few before it got crowded (and not get rousted by the lifeguards or cops as Phillip and I had been when we tried to sleep in the back of his VW truck on the bluff where the lone house is now); to going with my girlfriend, Trish, she riding a mat in what we called Swamis Beachbreak (the go-to spot when Swamis just wasn’t quite big enough); to going alone while working in Oceanside and going to Palomar Junior (now community) College; surfing every day of the famous swell of December 1969; actually being an Encinitas Local for a couple of years in the mid 1970s (albeit on the east side of I-5); to hitting some uncrowded dawn conditions on January 1st on two consecutive years in the early 1990s (down in San Diego working for my Brother-in-law, Jim Scott when my painting business was struggling with northwest winter conditions); and, the last time, a very small afternoon, not too crowded, and, I can remember, paddling, sort of blindly, on the inside peak, lined-up on the palm tree, hoping I had enough speed and the wave enough power to lift me, carry me to that little inside inside section.

Yeah, one big run-on; one spot remembered fondly.

maxresdefault

Swamis, Trancendental Meditation, and Passing Wind

This piece insn’t necessarily surf-centric. I wrote it for my blog, “Stuff That Goes On,” at the ptleader.com. I’ve been featuring some of my cartoons, after they’ve been rejected by “The New Yorker.” Here’s the one that goes with, kind of, the story:

Image (39)

One of my favorite surfing spots is Swamis, Encinitas, California. It is so named because of the gold tulips adorning the high white walls around the adjacent compound. Founded by followers of Swami… sorry, I really don’t want to get into more of the history than that which impacted me. Again, sorry. The compound was a sort of mysterious place for surfers, and what was known back in the middle 60s, when I started (board) surfing [at least three stairways ago, when the parking lot was smaller, the bathroom was of the pit variety], was that people inside spent a lot of time on their gardens. And meditating.

Trancendental meditation. Groovy. Maybe it played into the rapidly changing surfer self image as the end of the 60s brought more of a drug culture; bearing in mind drug use was ‘mind expanding’ and ‘experimental’ at the same time. Not that I participated. I didn’t. Some surfers also, by the end of the 60s, switched gears into the Jesus ‘Freak’ mode. That was more my speed, though they had a zealousness that my (short, to be sure, I turned 18 in 1969) lifetime of attending church didn’t seem to give me.

In 1975 Trish and I had moved to a house we bought in Encinitas. Swamis was still my favorite spot, and in the time we had lived in San Diego, the secluded beach around the point and directly below a meditation garden inside the compound had become a nude beach. I discovered this, not by word of mouth, but by… hey, I was just trying to go surfing.

The nudity caused a problem with the people inside the compound. It’s evidently difficult to fully get trancendental-ized when naked people are cavorting (didn’t look it up- sure it’s accurate) below you. It eventually made the paper, it made the TV news. Meetings were called. Dennis Weaver, Chester on “Gunsmoke,” was at one, livid, leaning into the cameras to make sure the point was made that this distraction was not acceptable.

I don’t think his appearance helped, but, before Chester and the spreading of the news throughout the San Diego County area, and about a week after I discovered the nudity, I actually went to work for local (Cardiff) painting contractor “Two Coat” Charlie Barnett, on a project to paint the exterior stucco surfaces at the enclave. We had to be quiet, I was told. Okay, but first break time, two of the helpers on the crew said we should all go up to the meditation garden and ‘watch the nudies.’ “What, you know about this?” “Hey, man; everyone knows.”

One thing that struck me was that, during what was evidently a women’s retreat, meals were taken in silence. That’s fine. I mean, there was the sound, no doubt, of chewing, maybe some loud swallowing. After the meal, partially-filled and enlightened participants went back to their stucco cabins for private meditation.

Now, everything around the compound, the gardens, the paths, the concrete, was supposed to be spotless. All the attendees were dressed in white. Although Charlie had hired the aforementioned helpers to insure cleanliness, he was having trouble getting his final payment until all spots of paint were cleaned up. So, Charlie and I were crawling around the sidewalks with wire brushes and lacquer thinner, cleaning. Oh, Charlie and I were also dressed in white, as is traditional, but with spots of colors, more so on my clothes than Charlie’s.

I was just trying to get the job done, but couldn’t help but hear, around pretty much every guest cabin, the unmistakable sound of someone passing gas.

Amazing. No doubt related to trancendentalizing. On a related note, Trish claims her father, always the ideal image of propriety, would often pass gas while under the headphones, listening to phonograph records. And then there’s the almost absolute need, possibly because of the altitude, while riding in a plane… hey, this isn’t a secret. As far as whether there’s still a nude beach at Swamis; haven’t a clue.

Here’s another rejected cartoon: Image (34)It’s Nietzche. I explained it in another blog post at ptleader.com  Go to “Blog” at the top of the home page, click on “Stuff That Goes On.”

As far as my fear of meditation… another time.

PB Point Never Breaks

HEAD SONGS- It may have been an early Fleetwood Mac instrumental playing in my head. Whatever it was it was perfect for the afternoon, some mix of northwest swell and just the right tide creating fast lines from near Pacific Beach Point to the south end of the parking lot at Tourmaline Canyon. It was turn-and-tuck on each thin, fast, backlit wave, tuck until you are finally engulfed by the tube.

PBpointTourmlne

SUMMER SOLSTICE: The longest days in San Diego seem to end by 8:15 or so. In the three years or so, starting in November of 1971, I lived in PB, just up the long steep drop to the parking lot, I always checked PB Point. It seemed like there should be great, Swamis-like waves there; there just weren’t. No, not ever. On one summer day, unlike the first story (and probably with a different tune moving as a different wave in my head), the waves were peaky, with the best peak halfway to the actual point. I went out after work and stayed long enough to walk back up the hill in the dark, across the street to the La Jolla Bella, long since, I’m sure, condo-ed out and priced out of reach for a newly-married couple, even if both work.

ANOTHER SUMMER DAY, not working on workday, I was out on a little peak just off the actual point. Starting out shoulder-hopping, I was soon mid-peak, then back-dooring the wave, most likely on my Surfboards Hawaii twinfin, the going-right fin moved as far forward in the box as it would go, the going-left fin back because, if I must explain, I surfed differently going backside; more forward-trim going right. I also had my first leash/kookstrap on the board, already shortened by breakage because they were then made out of something like surgical tubing, effected negatively by saltwater corrosion. So, mid-peak, I took a hit, the board slid out from under me, the leash dragged me, kicking and clawing, across the reef. I came up with green stuff under my fingernails. Perfect. Go again.

tourmaline-Rocky-Bluffs--Courtesy-Lisa-Field--SanDiegoorg_54_990x660_201404241143

WINTER SOLSTICE: On the shortest days of the year, it seems, as I remember, to get dark in San Diego somewhere between 4:30 and 5pm. I mention this because, in the Northwest, way farther north, but also farther west, the longest days go close to 10pm, but the shortest days turn dark before 4:35. Interesting. Not really, but, on one of those winter afternoons, PB Point was working. It was, and I don’t exaggerate on wave size, six feet. I must admit I’m daunted by larger waves (less daunting, more excitement on a point break compared to a beachbreak), but I found myself comfortable. And the waves just got bigger, until, just before dark, it was, by my standard, eight feet and I was still more excited than concerned. The darkness closed in so quickly, exhausted, looking way down the beach toward the lights, that I decided to go up the cliff. I climbed a fence or two, went through some rich person’s yard, and walked back down the road toward home.

PBPoint

ONE MORE STORY: My friend from Fallbrook, my first surfing accomplice, Phillip (long since Doctor) Harper, and his first wife, Pam, because they had to work weekends, would often come down to San Diego, or we’d meet at Swamis or somewhere, on a Wednesday or Thursday. On one of these visits, Phillip and I were surfing quite small and pretty crappy beachbreak at Tourmaline. I wiped-out on a wave, my even-shorter leash wrapped around the back of my board, and, when I came up, the board hit me right in the eye. What was interesting was, because I thrashed (and still thrash) boards, and rarely patched them (or patch them), a week or so later the glass on the nose of the board was broken away. It would have been a different result, Jack.

OKAY, TWO STORIES: That board was getting so thrashed that I would frequently go home with several new cuts on my legs from the board. On one winter afternoon, the tide very high, most of the surfers not catching any waves, I was taking off, kicking-out close to the shore riprap, close to the parking lot. When I got out, a tourist, an older woman probably escaping snow or something, said, “You look like you were having the most fun out there.” “Probably was,” I said, some new line of blood running down my leg.

THESE DAYS, because I need new gloves, I seem to get a new wound on my hands from each session, though, donning my old (properly thrashed) suit for a second session, recently, I noticed, later, that I had new scratches on my knee where the wetsuit was ripped. Should repair that.

Illustration for World Mind-Surfing League

I’m going to insert this into the piece, but, since I have enough folks who get a message, psychic or over the mysterious intranet, when I post something new, I’m putting it here first. I’ve got a secret (okay, letting you in on it) plan to get this to the WSL, which I love (and was watching earlier, before the Seahawks game started. Wouldn’t it be great if they did a little skit where…

Image (22)

…Hey, if you have some contacts… that’d be great. Greater. Also, I wouldn’t have finished the drawing if the surf had just cooperated and followed the forecast.

Chasing the Diamonds; Quilted, Kenetic, Allusive

My sister, Melissa Lynch, the real artist in the family, scolded me for being in any way apologetic for my drawings. Yeah, well; I would like to be honest. If I could capture the building blocks of always-moving water, figure out how to weave a seamless shadowed/reflective/glimmering/black/white/multi-hued image I would.

realsurfersquilted 001

If I could.

realsurfersquiltcolor 001

Since I can’t; yet; I’ll keep trying.

Meanwhile, I’m still in the thinking-it-through phase of a piece I must write under the working title of: “Are All Surfers Sociopaths; or Just the Good Ones?”

Three Acts: ACT ONE- several highschool surfing buddies and I surf Swamis after school. The only other surfers out are three (also high school age) members of the Surfboards Hawaii Surf Team. On the drive home, my friends complain they couldn’t catch any (or enough) waves. I hadn’t noticed, being busy catching waves and watching incredible longboard surfing. ONE, PART 2- One of my friends (Ray Hicks, most likely) points out (I think this was the day I ripped out my pants and had to borrow a pair of Levis from Billy McLean) that, when encountering other surfers of about our age, I seem to puff out my chest. “Maybe you’re intimidated.” “Yeah; probably.” “It’s, uh, like a gorilla.” “You mean, like, primal?” “Yeah, probably.”

ACT TWO- During the last week of my job up the hill from Trestles, taking an hour and a half break during my half hour official lunchtime, some surfer (I’ve always believed he was a Marine Officer) burned me and everyone else (I still got some, but not as many as usual waves). When I checked back at my half hour afternoon (supposed to be ten minutes) break, the guy was still out, still burning surfers mercilessly. I didn’t hate him; maybe he was going somewhere sucky, where a rifle was mandatory, for a while.

ACT THREE- My friend Stephen Davis, last time I spoke with him on the phone, mostly about his upcoming trip to the Oregon Coast and the chance I might meet him somewhere (probably won’t happen); had to, (had to) mention how I fell out of favor with many members of the Port Townsend surfing crew (very unofficial) because, over-amped, I (accidentally, I swear)wave-hogged on a day almost two years ago. Two years ago. Jeez. When I mentioned this on the phone this morning with Keith Darrock, and that I’m no more a sociopath than he is, and I do have empathy, whatever that is, he had to (had to) mention his observation that I’m kind of loud and possibly abrasive (see how he was tactful about this?) in the water, and, also, incidentally, I do seem to “kind of strut in the parking lot.” “WHAT? ME? No, it’s just being friendly.” (I am laughing at this point, but, also, thinking. Is he right?) “Like a rooster. And, oh,” he adds, has to add, “You kind of stick out your chest. And…and it seems like you want to dominate (I’m adding ‘even in’) the parking lot.”

There is no ACT FOUR where I try to change my ways, get all friendly and nice; empathize with those who won’t (before hand) or didn’t get enough waves. Empathize. I did tell Keith I’d rather attempt to empathize than be one of those who didn’t get enough waves. Maybe they’ll get points toward sainthood. No true contrition. Sorry. At least not so far. But, I am thinking; and since I can’t afford professional help, I’ll have to self-diagnose.

STEP ONE-“Yes, it’s all true.” See you in the parking lot.

Why Surfers Quit, Why I Won’t, and Why Ray Hicks (and others) Can’t

It’s not that I haven’t felt (perhaps properly and rightly) old while surfing, it’s just that I haven’t felt that way lately.

Just started and I have to clarify. I may not feel my age (not quite 64) ‘while surfing,’ but aches and pains (nothing serious) and fatigue (of the very best kind) generally follow a session. Then again, my average time in the water is now somewhere over two hours, and I don’t bob and wait, meditate and chat (maybe a little chatting, just to seem friendly, between sets); I shark the lineup, with the goal of surfing until I can barely drag my board back up the beach.

This is usually my goal; to surf (as long as the waves are good), as long as I can, to surf to the best of my ability, and to possibly, maybe, improve my surfing a bit. Oh, and to have fun.

This is so different than sessions when I was younger; an hour or less at Oceanside Pier or the south jetty before work; forty-five minutes (on my half hour lunch break) in the water at Lower Trestles when I worked up the hill painting Marine Corps housing; hitting Swamis between classes at Palomar and work at Buddy’s Sign Service; even a couple of runs over the hill to Sunset Cliffs with Raphael Reda when we were working on submarines at Point Loma. Yeah, it’s a bit of name-dropping, even bragging. Those were all years ago.

The one time I do remember surfing three hours straight was at a little reef at Sunset Cliffs (just north of Luscombs) with Stephen Penn. I was twenty years old, surfed all the time, and I was totally exhausted.

SO, in my last surf session, earlier this week, after wasting too much energy punching through and trying to find a shoulder, kicking-out or straightening out on closeouts (wouldn’t say I sucked, considering), I drove elsewhere (in my wetsuit) took another hike to a grinding rivermouth/pointbreak. The only other surfer out was pulling in early, sliding down the line. I couldn’t get in early enough on my smaller (smaller than his, way smaller than the one I usually ride) board, couldn’t really handle the drop/turn, though I did get a nice but quick view of several tubes. Basically I sucked, took a thrashing, and couldn’t help but think, feeling every rock on the walk back through my booties, “Maybe I am too old for real waves.”

NOPE. By the time I reached my car, the negativity had changed to, “Next time I’ll go here first. I’ll have the right mindset. Maybe I’ll finish glassing that fish I cut down from my old nine-four. It’ll paddle better. Next time…” Scheming, planning, getting my mind ready to up the rhythm, up my game, drop the casualness, take off on an angle and streak.

I did a selfie, planning of calling it

I did a selfie, planning of calling it “Portrait of a Nineteen Year Old Surfer forty-five years later,” but, one, was horrified when I saw it, and, two, well, refer back to one.

HERE’S how most surfing careers end: You don’t go for a while, and there are a million reasons not to go, only a couple to go (“I WANT TO” and “I HAVE TO”); and when you do go, your surfing is not up to where you think it should be. So, you’re less eager to go next time. So you don’t. Hey, work is important. For most of us, work is necessary. Still evil, mostly. I wish it wasn’t, necessary, but my career was my main excuse for years.

NOW, I’ve already given credit for my old friend Ray Hicks for getting me motivated to get back into surfing, something I hadn’t thought I’d given up, just hadn’t gone in a while; until he and I went surfing and I truly, totally, in-arguably sucked. Not so bad if Ray hadn’t just glided into waves, turned and wailed. BUT, if that competition, based somewhat, I have to admit, on my thinking, “I was always better than Ray, and now….(both self-assessments)”  was an impetus to get back into more regular surfing over ten years ago now, my new motto rather quickly became, “If not now, when?”

The main impediment to my surfing more has become the unwillingness of waves to come down the Straits of Juan de Fuca and my unwillingness to drive to the coast; meaning, when the forecast starts looking good, I start the frothing/ scheming/planning/imaging process. If it looks like it might be good for three days, I HOPE to go twice. At least once. “I have to go, want to go, really need to go.” If I haven’t gone for a while, my wife, Trish, to whom surfing has always been the other woman, will ask, “When are the waves coming? You HAVE to go.”

RAY HICKS has not been surfing nearly enough lately. Yeah, he’s been busy; yeah, yeah, San Diego’s North County waves are crowded or crappy, or both; yeah, yeah, yeah…no. Ray HAS to go. I’m totally kicking his butt; on wave count if not on style points; and one of these days, I will go down south.  Ray and his wife, Carol, are going to Hawaii in June, so he says maybe he better get to surfing. Practicing. UM… YEAH. And I want some Hawaii action photos, if possible.

TIM NOLAN, of “Tim Nolan and the Wave of the Day” fame (google it), is a few years older than I am. He needs to keep surfing. Like, forever; as does the guy with the white beard whose name Adam Wipeout actually knows, and who, Adam claims ‘has Hobuck on lockdown’ (or some similar phrase,though I’ve never seen the guy really standout at the northwest version of Waikiki or San Onofre). I need surfers around who are older than I am, just to remind me I can keep going. I’ve got at least four years or so after Tim quits, and he shows no signs of quitting.

I KNOW I’LL NEVER BE AS GOOD AS I WAS WHEN I WAS NINETEEN. If you’re nineteen and cocky, and want to remember yourself as a great surfer, QUIT NOW! Really. Otherwise…

Swell- Size, Angle, Period + Weather- Wind, Tide, Clouds + Crowd- Forecast, Expectations, Ability Level = Skunk or Score

20150418_183149photo(1)photo(2)photo(3)photo(4)

THE surf forecast for last week on the Straits of Juan de Fuca looked as good as it has in a while. Still, all the elements that go from a breeze miles away to rollicking rollers doesn’t always come together. Maybe, especially, around here. Waves are fickle, perfect-seeming buoy readings can produce… nothing, almost nothing, or, most frustrating, waves tantalizingly close to rideable.

AND then there’s the other crucial element, LIFE; which, for most of us, means WORK takes precedence over something as self-centered as SURFING, the riding and/or attempting to ride a few waves. And then there’s the difference between what we hope for, wave-wise, session-wise, performance-wise; always seeking great rides on great waves, and what we get. Often, most often, less; or nothing. SKUNKED. Still, last week there were some waves for the persistent, the lucky, and, and, yeah, some of the better-known spots got crowded; not Trestles or Rincon or Swamis crowded; but weekday-northwest crowded.

STILL, and again, and always, if I’m praying for surf; and I’ve been known to, I first want waves, then good waves, then great waves. I’m tempted to say dealing with the fear of, or, really, the fear of the potential for the crowd factor comes in later in the SCHEMING/PREPARING/HEADING OUT process, but, not really knowing whether forecasts and (even) buoy reports will translate into pumping surf, but high on anticipation, getting into an unwanted caravan with two other vehicles with boards on them on the dry side of Port Angeles tends to make me feel the jockeying for position has already started. And it’s not even the weekend! And I worked my ass off to get a day off! And, who the hell are these other surfers, anyway?

BUT, I did get lucky. However, I surfed waves that started out barely rideable, most of the crowd watching the one guy in the water. Surfers chatted on the beach, took naps, left to check other spots. Some went home. Four hours later, many more surfers in the water and the waves better.  I was surfed out. Sated, satisfied, even glowing from more than the sun. I have a couple more stories from my day, surfing with God (not ‘a’ god), and “MoonBoy,” but they’ll have to wait. The photos are from places, evidently, all named ‘Secrets,’ and, really, I think the right hand break is in Canada. Must be.  And so, we check the forecasts, check our schedules. If I could go today, I’d bet on the coast. Yeah; If… when… checking the forecast, thinking about my schedule… SCHEMING.

I’m afraid to give credit to the photographers or name the spots from the photos. It’s Clint on the wave with the rocks, though, when I guessed the spot, I got it wrong. I still think the other photos are from Canada. A right on the Straits is a very rare wave. BUT, YEAH, I do want to ride it.

Adam Wipeout’s Realsurfer Guide- Number 3; The ‘Roll-up-the-window’ and the ‘Double Over-the-falls’

realsurfersOvrtheFlls I actually started doing a drawing/cartoon/illustration for this, but have a time crunch trying to get a major-sized job completed so I can (hopefully) have a day off during the week to hit what looks like the run of swell we’ve been waiting for. Sound familiar? The scheming, hoping, dreaming, mind-surfing, knowing you’re missing good (possibly… no, probably) waves with the promise (often imagined, often broken) of catching better waves?

Anyway, Adam Wipeout is a real person, totally stoked, more of a name-dropper, and definitely more of a name-rememberer than I am; but, since his nickname seems to be sticking, and because I actually got the ‘roll-up-the-window’ simile from him, he seems like the perfect spokesperson for realsurfer hints and tricks and techniques. Try any and all at home.

NUMBER ONE- might be that it’s all right to pee in your wetsuit or trunks, and might actually provide some temporary warmth, provided you’re at least genital-high in the water. It would be kind of embarrassing to be leaking yellow from the leg of a dry wetsuit (though the process of suiting-up with pumping waves visible can create an urgent need to go- at least it does for me). Washing of the wetsuit later is up to your own personal hygiene standards and practices. But, good idea.

NUMBER TWO-  Never do a number two in the water. Okay, maybe, not confessing here, and, besides, statute of limitations, I may have done it once; way back, in an emergency, pulling down the trunks, underwater, and I was the only one out at, let’s say, the Oceanside South Jetty just before dawn, but, since it was a floater and not a sinker… lesson learned, lesson passed on.

NUMBER THREE- The technique is this: It’s a head-high wave, and, because you’re not sure you’ve actually caught it, you jump up, just like you’ve practiced, just like you do several times a day at your work, for more practice. It turns out you didn’t quite catch it, and you’re almost standing, maybe too much weight on the front foot, and you’re dropping in too late and too out of control. You stick both arms out perpendicular to your body, if your body was actually standing straight up, and you rotate those arms, just as if you were rolling up (or down) the windows in your car. I guess this would assume your car was, maybe a tiny smart car without automatic windows. Anyway, that’s the image. Arm rotators. Or, picture you’re at Waikiki in 1914 But, this attempt at rebalancing doesn’t work, and, as the wave drops out underneath you, the lip crashes into you as if you were (like, on purpose) performing a full body head-dip, and you go over the falls.

This is the first one, the single. Then, because the wave is so powerful, you’re sucked up from the trough and… no amount of arm-rolling can save you now, you go up and over the falls the second time, your board… you have no idea where your board is, you just hope it doesn’t hit you. You (and I really mean Adam) don’t need another thigh bruise like the time you tried the SUP, caught the outside (beach side) rail. Ouch! Still better than catching the outside rail, having the board come up, sideways, between your legs, as you do the single over the falls in the shorebreak. Happened to me. Once. Tamarack. Only once, though the-board-to-the-nose when I tried to push out through a wave and lost my grip on the rails… a couple of times. Tamarack, K-54. Oh, and now I’m remembering several instances of the dick-n-balls board slam/slap. Tamarack, Swamis, Pipes, etc.. This is less likely in a wetsuit than in loose board shorts, but usually means you didn’t get the nose-knock but did catch some air on the way out, then… ‘ouch, me hardies!’ (this is a response to this type of injury used by my son, James)

But, we learn. A hint from me, though I don’t remember ever having performed the double over the falls, and I’m way too cool to do the window-rolling thing, more likely to do the dismount/bail with accompanying yelp/scream: When you’re helpless, being thrashed by the wave, and you’re not sure where your board is, and you’re assuming the fetal position, both hands over your head… well, good luck. I have to go.

Thanks Adam. Get working on Number 4; how to look like a surfer and where to find the perfect apres’ surf hangout spot that isn’t actually a parking area or Goodwill, the real surfer’s clothing supplier.

“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.”

realsurfers.jpg

My family, usually with my friend Phillip Harper along, explored several surf spots other than Tamarack in my first years of surfing (1965- ?). I paddled, head-down, ruining unknown numbers of rides for real surfers at Swamis, quickly discerned Moonlight Beach was really not a surfing beach, decided Oceanside Pier was just too rough, and had too many Marines, many new to ocean swimming, getting in the way. Or I was actually afraid I’d get in their way.
Several times we moved on down 101, past Swamis, to where the future San Elijo State Park was under construction. Pipes was named for the then-new (now considerably shorter, rusted) drainage pipes hanging out of the side of the cliff. There were several sets of stairs, and we seemed to start at about the middle of the stretch that ends, to the south, at Cardiff Reef. It all seemed about the same, wave-wise, to me, at that time.
What I do remember is how clear the water seemed to be, protected by offshore kelp, onshore winds reduced by the cliffs, and with a mostly stable rock-infused bottom contour. I swear that, wading out, floating my board beside me, I was once hit by a wave that was just so thin and transparent that…
No, okay; you don’t have to believe me.
So, here’s another memory: My mom built a fire on the beach, sort of standard surf stuff, from the plentiful supply of driftwood. Out in the water; Phillip points to the uniformed ranger sort of marching down the beach.
So, you have the image of the Smokey Bear-hat wearing ranger; add in the sort-of-chunky mother of seven, undoubtedly wearing a dress, and there’s the face-to-face, then the Ranger kicking sand on the fire meant to warm her children… and my mom’s back in his face;  and we’re imagining that she’s saying “The park’s not even open yet,” and “this is what we’ve always done,” and the Ranger’s threatening some sort of action, and…
…And he left, eventually; and my mom restarted the fire, we got warm, and she didn’t bring us back there.
But I did go back. I went back after the park opened, but day-surfers had to rotate onto a small ledge and sneak around the fence to get to the most consistent peak, Pipes Proper, or to what my high school surfing friends and I referred to as Swamis beachbreak.

When Trish and I lived in Encinitas in the mid-70s, Pipes was the main place I surfed in the area, always with an eye toward Swamis; occasionally braving the crowd there.
For the past twelve years or so, Pipes Proper has been the designated ‘home break’ for my friend Ray Hicks. He parks on the highway, passing the crew of surfers, most around our age, who, possibly retired (Ray’s still working), have purchased the yearly park pass, and watch the surf from the parking lot inside the fence, at the bluff.  Ray, already in trunks or wetsuit, cruises down the ramp/access, drops off his sandals at the rip-rack rocks, paddles out, usually to the main peak.

It all seems kind of casual to me, sort of friendly.  Sure, Ray has had two pairs of sandals stolen, replaced with cheaper models, and now he just wears the cheaper models himself; and, yes, it does get crowded when it’s good, even when it’s not, but once in a while Ray writes me about memorable rides and memorable sessions, the water so clean, the waves so thin and transparent that…