Archive for November, 2007

“A Turning Point” conclusion

November 29, 2007

Spuce I buried my mother on December 11th 1972 I saw all the relatives, cousins, aunts, uncles etc. etc. They all asked me what had I been doin where was I living bla bla bla bla. I really didn’t have anything good to say about myself and so I just sort of faded out of site got into my truck and went back to the shack. I finally got back to my little house on Hillrose street and when I went inside I was shocked! While I was at the funeral someone had taken ketchup and squirted it all over the walls, the bed, the floors everywhere. It looked like blood. I had no idea who did it or why and to this day I don’t know for sure but I have a pretty good idea. That night after I cleaned up the bloody mess I got really fucked up on pills, pot and booze and passed out. The next day I really felt like shit I was really getting tired of taking downers so I decided to clean up, not completely but just stop taking the pills. I was getting strung out and I knew it so I stopped, plain and simple. I kept on smoking pot and drinking my wine but the pills were out. No mas! Sometimes people would stop by and want to hang out but I told them I wanted to be alone. My mothers death was the perfect excuse to keep people away. I was able to have some privacy, reflect and do some serious soul searching.

Christmas came and went uneventfully. I didn’t go anywhere. I stayed home with my good neighbor Kathy. We had some wine and pot and she brought over some ham, sweet potatoes, and stuffing. We fucked. It was a cold, grey, cozy day, I liked it. By the time New Years Eve was here I was feeling alot better. I had been off the pills for a couple weeks and I noticed a marked improvement in my energy level I wanted to do stuff. I wanted to go surfing! For the first time in about a month I decided to throw my board into the back of my truck grab my wetsuit and a towel and head for County Line beach just north of Leo Carrillo. It was winter I didn’t know if there was a swell or not, “this was before internet surf checks” You didn’t know until you got there what the surf was going to be like. That was the reward of going. I knew that County Line broke good in the winter, picking up northwest swells off the top of the reef. When I hit the coast coming out of Kanan Road onto Pacific Coast Highway I saw lines of swell combing the coast and the surface conditions were glassy smooth. As I headed north towards County Line I knew it was going to be really good and I was right! The conditions were perfect the tide was a 1.2 low coming up to about a 3.7 high tide so kinda medium all day. Surface was smooth. Swell 4 to 6 foot and a little inconsistant but there were three to four waves in a set with excellent shape with a relatively lite crowd. I coudn’t get suited up fast enough.

My conditioning was a little weak at first but after about a half hour of paddling I was back to my old self. It’s amazing how fast you bounce back when your young. I had one of the best days ever surfing that day and no one was with me to share it. The day was all mine. Late that afternoon when the winter sun started going down into the blue Pacific I climbed back into my 48 and drove back to Tujunga exhausted and stoked beyond belief.

When I got home I took a hot shower, put some clean clothes on and had an Ultimate Cheesburger and fries that I picked up from Jack In The Box. Then the phone rang it was a girl I knew named Susan, she called to let me know that there was a New Years Eve party on Pinewood Ave. I told her thanks and said I might show up for a little while since Pinewood was only three blocks away. I kicked back smoked a little weed and reflected on my day surfing, nobody in this town had a clue about how spiritual and good for the soul surfing can be. But I did and I liked it that way.

I decided I would walk down to the party on Pinewood and check it out, if it was dead I’d come back home and chill. When I got close to the house I was having a faux deja vu. I’ve been to this house once before. “Oh yeah this is where I met my ex girlfriend Debbie.” “Wow what a trip” I thought to myself “Wouldn’t that be weird if I saw her here again” I thought. You see Debbie had been completely out of my life for about 18 months. Isn’t it strange how you can be really super close to someone and then when you break up you never even see or bump into them. Even if you live in the same town.

I walked up the driveway to this California bungalow and onto the large covered front porch the stereo was playing Crosby Stills and Nash “4+20” I chatted with a few high school mates I hadn’t seen for awhile then walked into the house and got myself a red plastic cup to fill with some keg beer in the kitchen. I got a little spooked when I saw some friends of Debbies that I knew when we were dating, I said “hi” but they didn’t acknowledge me at all, fuckin bitches. I went back into the dimly lit living room and then I saw it! The bean bag chair! The same bean bag chair that I had sat in with my first love. It was scrunched up in an unrecognizable ball stuffed behind a door. I grabbed it and shook it into shape and placed it in the same corner that my girl and I sat in almost three years ago. I sat down in it. It was all just starting to get really, really strange when suddenly Debbie walked in the front door. Boy was I surprised to say the least. I was glad she didn’t see me. She was with another girl but no boyfriend. I watched her walk across the living room to the brightly lit kitchen she looked awesome. Her thick wavey long blond hair was pulled back into a loose french braid with a flower stuck in the back. I still wanted her. “God didn’t we make a good looking couple?”

For about an hour I just looked from the shadows. I had nothing to offer. I had quit high school, she graduated. I was a flunky, stoner, loser. But I surfed. Yes I surfed. I had one of my best days surfing that afternoon. I thought of my day alone at County Line and it brought a big smile to my face! I got bold just before I left the party and walked into the kitchen where she was at, she saw me and looked surprised as she awkwardly blurted out “Hi how are you?” “Good” I said “Real good” “You look like you’ve got some sun” she added “Yeah I went surfing today” “How was it” she asked “Fun” I said “Good, I’m glad you had a good time.” It was then that she along with some other girls went out to the back yard to do whatever. That was the last time I ever saw her again.

It was early and I wasn’t even high, I didn’t even smoke the genuine Tai Stick I brought with me. Remember those little pinners that got you sooo ripped?  So I decided to go home and get a good nights sleep. Then as I started walking down the driveway the sky opened up and it started raining. It was then that I had my epiphany. “Keith why are you here in this town?” “Who are your friends?” “Where are you going?” What is here for you?” “There’s no one to love” “What did that ketchup all over your house mean?” “You need to get out RIGHT NOW!” Happy New Year!

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“A Turning Point” part 1

November 20, 2007

spruce1.jpg “Well it’s comin on Christmas their cuttin down the trees their puttin up raindeers and singin songs of joy and peace, oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on…” “Joni Mitchell”

I was moved into my new house on Hillrose street on the first of November when I began to see more and more of my old associates. They were dropping by to hang out and get high. Seems word got out as to where I was living and since I was in a bit nicer place than previous more and more riff raff started showing up. Now I could have just put a stop to all of this but I kinda liked having people, “even the seedy type” drop buy now and then. Then one of my buddies Tracy picked up a very large quantity of pharmaceutical barbituates. Seconal, tuinal, phenobarbitol. On the street they were known as, reds, yellow jackets and rainbows. So for awhile I was just enjoying the ride.

Tracy asked me if I would hold the stash at my house for a few weeks. If I did he would give me a hundred pills every week, so I agreed to let him keep them at my house. I started taking downers everyday. Sometimes I would go to work at the welding shop to weld those sports car luggage racks. I got alot more burns when I was loaded and my production went down. Then one day I got fired for not wearing my safety gear. So once again I was out of work but feeling no pain. People started coming over to my place all the time, getting loaded and passing out all over the place. I had lost control of my invironment. I lived in a loadie crash pad.

Thanksgiving was just around the corner and I got word from a former girlfriend that my mother had moved to Northridge California. “Northridge?” I thought to myself “why Northridge?” Apparently my mother had met another guy named Gary and now she Gary and my three younger siblings were living in Northridge. Northridge is on the very northwest end of the San Fernando Valley it’s crowded and busy almost city like compared to Sunland California. There just isn’t any nature in Northridge.

One of the luxeries that I had acquired by being employed was a landline telephone, “no cells back then” and my mother had some how aquired my number. She called me one night when I was exceptionally loaded she said I was invited to have Thanksgiving diner at the house in Northridge. I was told of this conversation by my friend Kathy the next day because I didn’t remember ever talking to my mother on the phone.

I didn’t really want to go to my mothers for Thanksgiving but I thought “what the heck I’ll give it a try.” I fueled up the old 48 Ford truck and drove the 25 miles out to Northridge to my mothers new house. When I arrived there seemed to be a really weird vibe. It seemed as nobody really cared if I was there or not, you know like they were just shining me on. Maybe it was because the last time I saw my mother it wasn’t the best of experiences. Read “The First Downward Spiral.” So I sat alone in the living room looking at Cosmo magazines while everybody else was outside or in the kitchen. I brought about 10 seconal pills with me because I knew my mom like em once in awhile to relax. I got up from the couch and walked into the kitchen and discreetly gave the pills to my mother and wished her a happy Thanksgiving. I walked out of the house, crossed the street, started my truck, popped a couple of reds and drove back to my crash pad. I didn’t like being there at all. When I got back home I popped another red and took the phone off the hook and plopped down on the sofa closed my eyes and started to get some little rushes. I loved that feeling when the seconal really starts to hit your head. It felt good just to be alone in my house when all of a sudden there was a knock on my front door I yelled “Who is it?” “It’s me Kathy.” Kathy was a really cute brunett that lived next door, she would come over and hang out with me now and then but that was all. “Come in” I said. She walked in wearing a Led Zepplin T-shirt with no bra and hip huggers tucked into some black knee high boots. Her hair was shoulder length with heavy long bangs just barely above her green eyes, she was looking exceptionally hot! “Why are you home? she said “I thought you were going to your moms house today. I saw your truck in the street so I thought I come over to see you.” I told her the whole story about the vibe at my moms house. Then without a word she got down on her knees and leaned over and gave me the most passionate kiss I ever had. She slowly pulled away from me and looked closely at me and said “Keith, I want you to fuck me!” As loaded as I was I didn’t refuse her offer and she was fantastic. She spent the night with me on that Thanksgiving evening I never even missed the turkey. A couple of weeks went by, Kathy and I had a casual easy thing goin on nothing really serious. She was using me and I was using her and that was just fine.

I remember it was December 7th Pearl Harbor Day when I was coming home from the store and I saw my Aunt Joyces car in front of my house. Now if my mother didn’t even know where I was living how did my aunt find out and why was she there. I hadn’t seen her for five years even though we lived in the same town. I pulled up got out of my truck and walked over to her sitting in the drivers seat of her car. She was very distraught. “Hi Aunt Joyce are you allright?” I asked her. “Whats the matter?” She looked at me and could barley get it out “Your mother is dead” she said “What?” was my next reply. “Apparently she’s committed suicide” I wasn’t shocked, I wasn’t surprized, I was emotionless. The only thing that bothers me to this day is the fact that she killed herself with the pills that I gave her on Thanksgiving. Is that karma?

I buried my mother at Forest Lawn Cemetary in Burbank California I cried at the funeral but only because everybody else was. Kathy came over to me when I was crying and held me close to her. For a few moments I really thought she was Debbie.

“Ebb and Flow”

November 9, 2007

ebb-flow.jpgI drove the Pontiac Chief for about 4 months until one night while returning from a Surfing Movie in Santa Monica with my date the Chief blew up. I blew an oil seal while going over the Mulholland pass. I looked out the rear view mirror and saw a huge billowing white smoke screen blinding everyone in my path, I slowly began to lose power at the apex of my climb and pulled off on a nearby off ramp. I left the Chief there on the roadside never to see it again. My date and I hitch hiked the rest of the way to Sunland California.

I quit my job at the machine shop because without a car  didn’t feel like taking the bus again. I was back to square one. No car, no job and now no home. Yes the landlord had returned from his European vacation and was looking for his three months of rent. Needless to say I didn’t have it and I was told to leave so I packed up my clothes into a duffel bag, grabbed my surfboard and walked down the driveway with $75 and started walking the hood. I’m sure it looked a little odd seeing this kid walking around with a duffel bag and a surfboard in a town that’s 70 miles from the nearest beach. I was living on Commerce Ave. which is technically in Tujunga California, in fact I think Commerce Ave. is the divide between Sunland and Tujunga and I was living on the Tujunga side. There are alot of duplexes, mother in law, converted garages, and other non-code type dwellings in this older, more run down part of town. I walked only two blocks and on the Sunland side of Commerce I saw what looked like an empty dwelling down a long driveway. At the top of this driveway there was a big white beat up run down house. I said to myself “Hmmm looks like no one is living in that place back there, I think I’ll walk down and take a closer look.” I walked down the drive and looked through the windows and saw it was vacant. I went to the front door and it was unlocked so I went in. The power was on and so was the gas and water. It was a studio apartment 1 living room, 1 bath, a small kitchen and some closet space. But the real “coup de gra” was the Indian rug that was left rolled out in the living room over the hardwood floor.
I don’t know what it is about me but I have a floor fetish and I love beautiful rugs, not carpeting but rugs and rugs and wood are perfect together. I also like my rugs and floors swept, mopped, and vacuumed at all times.

I inquired about the empty studio with the people living in the big old white house at the top of the drive a hippie couple named Ebb and Flo. They told me it was $100 a month including utilities. I told them about my dilemma and they let me “move in” right then with a $75 deposit. At least I had a place to stay on my very first night out on the streets. This place was a step up from my last shack for sure. But now I was broke again. No food, no car, no job, no furniture. I had to find work fast! I needed money for phone calls and bus fare so I went into survival mode. I went to the local grocery store one afternoon and waited for the Coke, Pepsi, or Seven Up trucks to come in and make their delivery’s. When a truck arrived at the store and the driver wheeled in his delivery I would sneak over to the truck and take off a couple racks of empty glass bottles and stash them behind a dumpster. When the driver left I would wait awhile and then redeem the bottles for $1.25 or $1.50 that way I could make phone calls and ride the bus.

I found another job in Van Nuys California as a welder. I was working on an assembly line welding sports car luggage racks for British sports car enthusiast. The pay was OK but the little burns you got every week were a bitch. Working at speed around hot stuff isn’t real safe, however I did get pretty good at braising a nice bead with my acetylene torch. I befriended a guy at work named Art that lived about four blocks from my place.  Art would take me to work each day for cash or grass but not ass.  I didn’t buy another car but I did get some furnishings for my pad.  Stuff from ads in the  paper or garage sales. I got a couch that was comfortable enough to sleep on, an easy chair, a coffee table, and a floor lamp. I never saw much of the old gang during this time and if I did I never told them where I was living. I had a couple of one night stands with a couple of former one night stands but my social live was almost non-existent. I lived there for 5 months and paid the rent every month on time. Then one Friday afternoon I came home from work and all of my stuff was out of the house and on the driveway. “What the fuck is this all about!” I went to the front house to find out what was going on but no one was there and it looked like it was almost empty inside, like they were in the process of moving, turns out they were. I never saw Ebb and Flo again. So here I was again with nowhere to live only this time I had “stuff” including that really nice Indian rug. I slept that evening outside on the couch under the stars. It turned out to be a nice night for sleeping outside with a full October harvest moon and mild Santana Winds. I laid down and starred at the moon and thought about life, did a little soul searching, gave myself a good talkin to, then made a plan for tomorrow.

The following Saturday morning I went to a U-Haul rental place and rented a small moving truck for the day. I didn’t know where I was moving too but I needed a truck for my stuff so I went back to my driveway and loaded up the truck and started driving around town looking for places that were for rent or vacant. I didn’t use a newspaper, all of those places were to expensive.
Later that evening I found a little one bedroom house at the top of Hillrose Street in Tujunga with a For Rent sign in the window. I went up to the sign and read the details written in black Marks Alot. “1 bedroom 1bath and kitchen $125 a month including utilities. Owner next door at 1552.” I went and talked to the owners and they let me move in the next day. This was actually another step up from what I was living in before because of the separate bedroom and it was a little bigger, plus it had two big pine trees on the property complete with pine-cones and pine needles, it gave me a feeling of being high in the mountains and I like the mountains almost as much as the beach. I moved my stuff in, did a little decorating ie. hung a couple of framed pictures of waves breaking, and I even bought a cheap single mattress at a garage sale that I threw on the floor in the bedroom.

I was still a loner, still working at the welding place and I just bought another vehicle a 1948 Ford pickup truck primer gray, straight flathead 6. Things were going OK for about a month then some people stepped back into my life and it got real, real bad.

“It lights up at night!”

November 8, 2007

it-lights-up.jpgThey call me the workin man thats what I am. “Rush”

That summer on Commerce Ave. in Tujunga California was full of beer, drugs, and sex with very little if any responsibility. No job, no car, no bills, no rent, nothing. My friends started to turn on me. I was the loser, slacker, free loader. All I had to offer was a place for them to hang out and party at if they had no where else to go. Then one evening a bunch of the people I had been associating with came over to my house. Everyone was in a great mood and we were all having a good time when a buddy of mine took me over to his car and in a quite tone said “Hey Keith I got some really good acid wanna try a hit?” “Sure” I said and I took a hit of Orange Sunshine. After about an hour I started to come on to what was to be the strongest dose of LSD I had ever taken. I went into a complete separation from reality with momentary fades into real world, or what I thought was real world. All I could do was sit on a chair for hours unable to stand or communicate, I was completely helpless. People started to come up to me with grotesque faces and spew insults about me, my mother, my life, they called me a fag, a fuckin nobody, a worthless piece of shit, they poured beer on me and threw empty cans at me, they flicked their cigarettes on me. They took this opportunity to just fuck with me and my mind, and there was nothing I could do or say. I was completely helpless.

Early the next morning I found myself alone lying in the driveway under that messy pepper tree amidst all the debris that was thrown at me. There wasn’t a sound except for an annoying blue jay above my head. I was a filthy mess both physically and spiritually I had not spoken to God in a long, long time but that morning while steeped in humility I prayed.

Now my faith has always been lazy but it has always been there, and it has always come through for me. On that morning it came through for me again. After my prayer I got up and went into my humble little place, took a shower and cleaned up. I walked down to the local liquor store and got a newspaper and sat on a bench and started looking for a job. I made a few phone calls with what little money I had and soon I was asked by two employers to come down and fill out an application. Two days later I had a job working at a machine shop in that God forsaken town of Sun Valley California. Sun Valley was about twenty miles from where I was living and I didn’t have a car or bus fare, so for about two weeks I would hitch hike my way to and from work. I rode with some strange freaks in those two weeks. As for food, I would pick cumquat’s, pomegranates, cactus apples, oranges and my personal favorite avocados from neighborhood trees for food. I also had to do a little bit of shop lifting at the grocery store every now and then.

After a couple of weeks at the machine shop I got my first paycheck $135 “Alright!” I finally had some cash. I went to the local Sizzler Steak House and had a steak a salad and a baked potato for supper. Then I walked to my local liquor store and bought a bottle of wine. I never purchased beer to bring home because I didn’t have a refrigerator. But a big jug of Red Mountain wine was perfect. In fact wine became my beverage of choice. I found the buzz from some red wine and a little reefer to be very mellow and relaxing after a day at the office.

I was working at “the shop” for about a month and I was getting really tired of taking the bus. The bus took to long. I wanted my own car. I managed to save about $200 that first month of work because I had no bills. Then one day a co-worker named David said “Hey Keith I heard your interested in getting some wheels” “Yes I am” I said. “Well my mom is selling her car for $500” “What is kind is it?” I asked, “It’s a 1952 Pontiac Chieftain and it runs perfect. Plus the Indian Head hood ornament lights up at night!” Wow that sounds really cool!” I said but I only have about $300 till our next pay period. “That’s alright we can go over to my mothers after work today and you can take a look at it and talk to my mom about it.” “Right on dude lets do that” I agreed. “Cool see ya after work.” I rode with Dave over to his mothers that evening to look at the Chief and see if maybe we could make a deal. When we arrived I saw the Chief in their driveway. It was so cool. It was big and black and kind of mean looking. Lots of chrome on the front end and an Indian head hood ornament that really did light up at night. The inside was spacious, a big bench front seat and a big bench back seat. The headliner was completely intact and there were no holes in the seats. I talked to Daves mother Mrs. Gonzalez about buying the car, she agreed that I could pay her $300 dollars and take the car and then give her $200 in two weeks. We agreed and Dave gave me a ride back to my house where my money was stashed and I drove my black Pontiac Chieftain back home with the hood ornament lit up and showing the way.

I paid Mrs. Gonzalez her balance as agreed, the Pontiac ran beautifully with it’s straight eight engine and HydroGlide transmission. I felt good, really good!  I started going to the beach again on weekends, I bought a new surfboard and a wetsuit. But what I find interesting about this period in my life is that during this “success” I was very much alone. I did not want to share  this with anyone. I became a loner and I liked it that way. Just leave me alone and I’ll be happy and for a brief moment I was.

“The First Downward Spiral”

November 8, 2007

spiral.jpgMy last year of high school was a total disaster. I just didn’t give a shit about anything. The only class I went to was drafting, I was really good at it and I liked it. The teacher Mr. Gardener who was also a surfer/sailor would let me come into his class and work on my own projects and assist other students with questions and problems. I guess you could say I was a drafting rat.

My social life with the girls was non existent. I slept with a couple of girls from school but it just wasn’t the same thing as being with Debbie. So I just didn’t even try. I immersed myself into drugs. Drugs like pot, bennies, reds. rainbows, LSD, stuff like that. I started hanging around like minded individuals and we would share our drugs with each other like it was a form of honor as to who could provide the best stuff. These people didn’t have a clue about surfing.

My new “friends” and I would go up into Tujunga canyon with guns that they borrowed from their fathers collections. We would get some beer and drop acid and drive the narrow canyon roads and go shoot stuff. Blast a tree in half or kill a jack rabbit or bring an old car battery up to blast apart. “Look! a Blue Jay blast him with the shotgun!” “BOOM” “look here’s his head.”

I wasn’t working or going to school. I had no car. My mother was constantly telling me to “Get the fuck out of her house” So at seventeen I did. A “friend” of mine had told me that there was a place in Tujunga on Commerce Ave. were I could stay. It was a one room cracker box with a toilet and a shower. It was the servant quarters on an old estate a 1/2 acre lot full of weeds, old boats, old cars, cactus and those messy pepper trees. I grabbed my clothes and an old throw rug that my mother had forgotten about and got a ride to my new “place” I thew down the rug, put my clothes in a built in dresser and lay-ed down on the mattress that was already there on the floor. “Ahh…home.” The next day at my new house I was sitting under the pepper tree talking to a neighbor when I suddenly saw my mother and my sister Linda driving up the long narrow driveway that headed up to the compound. “I wonder what they want? Maybe their bringing me some stuff that I might need that would be nice.” I thought to myself. My sister Linda got out of the car and came up to me and said “where is it?” “where is what” I said. “where is that god damn rug you took from US!” “You mean that little 6X4 braided oval that was rolled up in the garage?” I said kinda stunned. “Yeah that one!” yelled Linda. “It’s in my place” I said. “Go get it, it’s not yours.” “Are you fucking kidding me? I take an old rug that hasn’t been used in years to cover the cold concrete floor and you want it back?” I went into my house and rolled up the rug and started walking down to the car to give it to my mother. “Is this what you fucking want you piece of shit fuckin whore?! Well here take it bitch, and get the fuck out of here and don’t you ever, ever come back to this place again because there is nothing left of yours here anymore, not even your son!” Those two bitches got back into the car and left for good.

I walked back into my little place and I was pissed off big time, I started crying. Later on that day a couple of my friends came over because I now had a place where people could go to party. We drank beer and got high. A girl named Susan stayed the night with me. She made me feel better on my mystery mattress.

The best thing about my new living arrangement was the fact that the landlord was on a European vacation that summer and was not to return for 3 months. It was my responsibility to send a check to his house each month until he returned from his holiday. Well I didn’t. I just lived rent free for weeks and months at a time. I would work here and there but not much and as soon as I had any money I spent it on beer and dope. I don’t think I surfed once that summer. My surfing friends had abandoned me. Then one day I went to the mailbox and I found a check inside. It was an income tax return check for James. James was the former tenant that had lived here before me. But James was now in the Army and in Viet Nam. I took the check and put it in my dresser and forgot about it. Then one day another “friend” named George came by my place just to hang out, I asked him if he had a few bucks and he said he was broke. He asked me the same and I said ditto. “But I do have an income tax check for James in my dresser” I said. “Really?” said George “How much?” “I don’t know I never opened it” “Well lets take a look” said George. I went inside and got the letter and went back outside and opened it up. $200 “Wow” I said. “Hey I got an idea” said George. “What” I said, “Do you still have a bank account” George asked me. “Yeah but there’s only $5 in it just to keep it open” I said “Cool here’s what we’ll do. I’ll go in the bank with you and tell the teller that I’m James and that we just got back from the river and I lost my wallet, but you have an account here and you will vouch for me that I’m James then I will sign the back of the check and you endorse it for me.” “It’s worth a try I said.” We drove down to the bank in Georges 65 Buick Riviera and went in. We walked out $200 dollars richer. Lets party! This was going to catch up to me later in life

“Rights of Passage” conclusion

November 8, 2007

passage-ending.jpg…and the colors of the sea blind your eyes with trembling mermaids, and you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Ulysses, how his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing. “Cream” “Tales of Brave Ulysses”

Marco’s and I were stoked to finally be at our destination in one piece with no mishaps or weirdos on our hitch hike adventure to Jalama beach. Our ride dropped us off at the far north side of the beach park near the small Jalama Store where they sold basic camping and fishing supplies, as well as grilled burgers and fries. We dropped our gear and filled our canteens with water from the drinking fountain. No bottled water back then. “Which way dude?” I said to Marcos. “North.” said Marcos “Not many people go north of the creek and the trestle, besides the waves at that little rivermouth can get pretty good sometimes.” We picked up our gear walked out on the sand and started our 1 mile hike north to our “own” campground. You see Marcos and I were penny-less so we couldn’t stay in the park campgrounds even if we wanted to. Not having money can really make things exciting and adventurous!

The wind was howling hard as we strained to hold on to our surfboards as we walked headlong into the stinging sand hitting our faces. We needed to find some kind of shelter from this nasty wind. Maybe a little southeast facing nook or better yet a cave. We kept walking looking for a spot, we finally found a small little crack of a canyon and walked up into it to test its “wind sheltering qualities.” It was pretty good but not perfect. Our camp had to be wind proof. How could we smoke that hashish if the wind kept blowing out our “supply” of matches? We had a dilemma. Marcos was a seasoned camper, survivalist and naturalist he was to earn a Masters degree in horticulture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo later in life. So what does he pull out of his backpack, but a 6′ by 8′ nylon swatch of lightweight military parachute. “I thought we could use this as a makeshift tent.” he said “Awesome!” I said. We started to comb the beach for stones and driftwood to secure and prop our parachute, the wind was still howling.

Our first attempt to put up the “tent” in that wind didn’t succeed. We needed complete blockage, like a fuckin brick wall. “We need to go underground.” Marcos said, “Huh” I responded. “Yeah we need to dig a trench and fortify it with rocks and driftwood and then cover it with the chute.” “Good idea” I said. Marcos was digging the trench while I went looking for better pieces of wood. I ventured up into the little canyon and low and behold I found a pile of old railroad tyes thrown from the tracks up on the hill. “Dude come here look what I found its perfect! we dug our hole about four feet deep and stacked the tyes up along three of the walls, the fourth wall was our entry. We covered the pit with the chute and tested it out. It worked like a charm.The only time a match went out was when we blew it out.

The wind blew hard for three days straight. We didn’t surf. We gathered firewood, continued to strengthen and improve our sand floored dwelling, we explored the coast, and of course got high. Our food consisted of stretchers like rice and beans, pasta, peanut butter and honey, Ritz Crackers, popcorn, canned veggies, granola and dried fruits. No refrigerated stuff and no meat. Just healthy food actually.

The fourth day dawned still and quite like earthquake weather in California. All we could here were the waves breaking on the beach. We walked south of our camp and surfed the rivermouth. The waves were small but fun clean peaks. It felt good to rinse those first three days of sand out of all the nooks and crannies. The ocean was our bath tub. It was a beautiful sunny blue day and all we did was surf and hang at the hut and surf some more. We lived like this for days and weeks until we started, “running out of food.”

After about two weeks into our adventure, we were bronzed, weathered, bleached, lean, fit and hungry as hell. By that time we were starting to live on rationed portions. The reason we didn’t want to leave was the fact that a really good swell was starting to fill in and we wanted the surf more than food. We ate one tablespoon of granola and one tablespoon of honey three times a day with water. We surfed all day. On the third day of this “diet” we were sitting hunched over on a sand dune watching the waves, we saw a girl sitting on a towel in her bikini looking over at us, probably because we were looking over at her. We weren’t looking at her because she was smokin hot, but because she was peeling an orange. That juicy vitamin C filled, mouth watering, scurvy curing orange. Then for some reason she offered us half. Like little sand crabs we scurried over to get our offerings. It was the best three wedges of orange I ever tasted.

That evening Marcos and I were seriously considering going home due to the lack of food. Maybe one more day but that was it. When suddenly we heard voices in the distance. Not many people came up this far from the campgrounds unless they were hiking or fishing, especially this late in the afternoon. We poked our heads out of our hut and in the distance we saw Marco’s Mom and Dad and his little brother coming up the beach! “Wow it’s your parents!” I said to Marcos.The first things we started to think were, there gonna tell us we have to go back with them, there pissed off about something, or there’s a family emergency.” NO to all of the above. They came to see how we were doing and asked us to come down to the campgrounds for supper!” We had the most incredible barbecued burgers and potato salad, corn on the cob with butter and strawberry rhubarb pie with milk. Marks folks left that evening, and they left us with another weeks worth of food. How awesome is that! We walked back to our hut in the dark. I couldn’t help but think about how lucky Marcos was to have a mom and dad like that. I got a little teary eyed to myself in the dark.

A week went by, the swell got insanely good, we surfed hard everyday. Then one day the surf went flat and the food was low again. It was time to head back to “Sunland California.” We were ready. We packed our gear, walked back through the campgrounds and stuck out our thumbs heading south. Despite our shabby weathered appearance we got back into our little town in four rides in one day, phenomenal!

When I finally got home and I walked up my driveway to this drama ridden, God forsaken, heartache excuse of a home, I felt a heavy heart. The whole time that I was up at Jalama I never thought of my mother, of my breakup with Debbie or anything negative. Now I was back in the fucking real world with summer coming to an end and my senior year in high school coming up. My sister told me to call Debbie apparently she was worried about me and wanted to talk. I gave her a call.

“Rights of Passage” part 2

November 8, 2007

passage-part-2.jpg…”I wanna live my life in the rivers and trees, I wanna spend my time just making ryhme and be free… and be free… and be free…” Loggins & Messina

After Marcos and I climbed back up onto the 101 highway from our little surf session at Emma Wood beach we felt refreshed and invigorated. “Lets break off a piece of that hash” said Marcos “Sounds good” I replied. We lightly heated a small corner of our “Hashy Hershy Bar” and a nice little chunk softened and fell off into our small little pipe. I took a good hit while Marcos swirled the match above the black chunk keeping it perfectly heated. I did the same for him. We finished it off and stuck out our thumbs on a sunny summer afternoon heading north on “High” way 101. The ocean to our right and the RR tracks and mountains to our left. It was perfect.

We got a ride by some cowboy in his pickup truck. He was going to Lopoc which was just past the road to Jalama Beach we threw our boards and gear into the back of his truck and headed up the coast. “Where you guys goin?” he asked “Jalama” we both said back “Where did you hitch hike from?” “Sunland” “Where?” “Sunland” I said back. “Where the hell is that?” the cowboy asked. “About 120 miles southeast of here” “Oh you mean LA” our driver said. “Yeah LA” I said, I didn’t feel like getting specific with him. “Thats a long way especially with them surfboards” “Yeah but it’s worth it” I said.

We reached the small two lane ranch road off of highway 1 that curves through the rolling hills to the beach at dusk. The cowboy dropped us off with a warning. “If in you guys are gonna stay out here tonight you better find a good spot to hide off on the side of the road.
Alot of weird ass shit has happened out here. There’s alot of crazy motherfuckers out here in these parts.” “Thanks man” Marcos said. And our cowboy drove of into the sunset. “Dude sounded like he was from Texas or somethin” I mumbled.

Since it was getting dark we decided to sleep out in the cattle pasture under an oak tree. We thew down our sleeping bags and pulled out the “Hashy Hershy Bar” for a night cap. It was pitch dark out. We did the usual smoking ritual and lay-ed down to go to sleep. We were both just about into dreamland when we heard a car engine in the distance. It wasn’t on the paved road but on a dirt road within the ranch’s property. “I wonder what there doin out here” I said to Marcos. “I don’t know” he said. We could see the headlights of the vehicle, it was about 200 yards away. Not real close but still kinda strange, especially after what our cowboy friend had told us. We watched and listened, you could hear the doors close and voices mumbling. Then we heard a gunshot! “What the fuck!” “Shit!” We froze stiff and watched. The trucked doors closed and the engine started and they drove off. “What the hell was that all about?” I asked Marcos. “I think we just saw someone get wasted” he said. We didn’t know what to do. There were no cars, no houses, no cell phones back then, nothing. We decided to stay put and be quite. We slept very, very lightly that night. The next morning at dawn I walked about a 2 thirds of the way to where that truck had been the night before to see if there was a body. Nothing. Marcos yelled “Hey we got a ride!” and was waving me back to the roadside. I raced back glad that I didn’t find anything.

The road into Jalama is a winding two lane road through hills, valleys and small canyons dotted with a few ranches. Classic California cattle country. The last hill you climb takes you to the crest with a panoramic view of the blue Pacific Ocean and a long white sand beach down below. This is Jalama Beach. This was going to be home for three weeks

“Rights of Passage” part 1

November 8, 2007

passage-part-1.jpg “I got a baby’s brain and an old man’s heart took eighteen years just to get this far,
Don’t always know what I’m talkin’ about feels like I’m livin’ in the middle of doubt… “Eighteen” Alice Cooper

The summer of my break up with Debbie was just one big bummer of a summer. It was all I could do to just surf and get stoned. My buddy Marcos and I got to be pretty tight friends. Marcos was about a year older than me. He spent alot of his childhood growing up near the water in Vero Beach Florida. A shaggy brown haired blue eyed kid Marcos was the best surfer I knew, he even made his own surfboards. I met Marcos hitch hiking to school one morning. He picked me up in his VW squareback with surfboard racks on it, “wow I wonder if this guy surfs?” I thought as I got into the car. As I climbed in the smell and the smoke of some fine herb was wafting through the early morning sunlight shining through the windshield of his wagon. Marcos had just lit up a nicely twisted joint, “Care for some?” he asked. “Thank you very much.” I said as I took a nice deep pull off the spliff. “Whats your name?” I asked as I gave him back the joint. “Marcos” he retorted “Keith” I volunteered. “You going to school?” Marcos asked. “Yeah, you?” “Yeah later today, I go to Pierce College in the valley.” “I noticed the surf racks on your car, do you surf?” “All the time.” Marcos said. “So do I.”
“Really? you wanna go this weekend? Marcos asked. “Yeah!” I’d love to go” We became close friends, and still are to this very day.

Later that summer of the big breakup, Marcos and I were just hanging out at my house doing nothing when I proposed an idea. Marco’s car was in the shop for a major engine rebuild. I didn’t have a car and neither of us were working. But we did have a little bit of cash between us from other clandestine investments. “Lets go on an adventure” I said. “Where?” “Jalama Beach! lets get as much food as we can from or moms and take our boards and hitch hike to Jalama Beach!” “You mean just pack up and hit it?” “We’re not doing anything else” I said. Now Jalama Beach was about 195 miles away. It’s located around the corner from Point Conception about 55 miles north of Santa Barbara. It’s a very magical place and the surf can get unreal. We had taken some surf/camping trips up there before and always scored good waves. “Lets do it!” said Marcos “We’ll leave in two days!” I said.

The next day I called Marco’s and told him I knew where I could get some hashish to take along on our trip. We pooled our money together and I was able to get an once of some black hash marbled with opium. It was about the size of a Hershy Bar and it had a decorative stamp on the top of the “bar” This stuff was exotic. We smoked some the night before leaving and got really stoned. We were very happy with our purchase, even if it did take all the money we had. The next day our back packs were stuffed, our boards were ready, the pipe was filled and we had no money. That morning we stuck our thumbs out on Foothill Blvd.

We made our way out of the valley and into Newbury Park California at around 2:00pm. We got stuck at Ventu Park Road for 18 hours and were finally picked up the following morning and taken all the way to Emma Wood State beach just north of Ventura. We dropped our gear on the sand and even though the surf wasn’t that good we threw our trunks on and surfed for about an hour. The water, the sun, the salt air, “wash my blues away mother ocean.” When we got out we rinsed off under the camp showers, grabbed our gear and walked back to Highway 101, then we started making our way to Santa Barbara. To be continued..

“The Low Down Dirty Blues”

November 8, 2007

lowdown-dirty.jpg“…I’m the pain, the trouble, and the truth. I am the low down dirty blues.

“Debbie and I were together for one and a half years from tenth grade to eleventh grade. In that span of time the band broke up, I didn’t hang with any of my old neighborhood friends, I dropped LSD for the first time, my mother was divorced from Rick, we moved out of the house on Wescott Street and were now sharing a two bedroom dump with a gay hippie named Mike on Kyle Street in Sunland. But I was still surfing! I had a new group of friends, Marcos, Anthony and Arby and they all surfed. We would go to the beach and surf and get high, sometimes Debbie came with us. My friends never protested about Debbie going to the beach with us.

After a day at the beach I would head home and clean up and go right back over to Debs house. Sometimes Debbie and I would go over to Arby’s house and go into his “room” in the garage and listen to music. He had a room with large overstuffed pillows arranged around a circular table with a water pipe in the center and a blacklite that lit all the posters on the walls. Arby would light some incense and fill the pipe with pot, he always had really good weed. Sometimes he would ad a little hash to the weed. The three of us would kick back and get really high while we listened to albums like Santanas “Abraxas”, The Whos “Whos Next”, Led Zeppelin “One” and “Two”, The Moody Blues “Threshold of a Dream” and of course Jimi Hendrix.

I spent alot of time at my girlfriends house, especially weekends. Debbies mom was a working mother with five kids, I think she was working at Lockheed on the night shift. But she trusted her children to take care of themselves and they did. Debbies older brother Calvin was my age, he was in my home room when we were in junior high. Cal being the oldest kinda kept things in order with Deb second in command. I really loved that family and being a part of it.

It was after being at Debs house one weekend that I came home on a Sunday afternoon around six. I thought no one was home until I saw my mother lying on her bed. I thought it was odd that she was in bed so early unless she was sick, “Mom?” I said ” are you not feeling well?” no response. “Hey” “HELLOOOO?” nothing, I tried shaking her, still nothing. Then I called an ambulance from the emergency numbers on the wall by the phone, they arrived right away. I didn’t notice the pharmacy bottle but the medics did. My mother had tried to kill herself with sleeping pills. No one had been home all weekend. My little brother and sister were with their father on a one week vacation to Canada, and my sister Linda was with her girlfriend Jann somewhere. I told Linda what happened when she got home. We both felt sorta numb and we were really not that surprised, “Well at least she’s alive.” I said.

When my mother came back from the hospital a few days later she told Linda and I not to say anything to anybody about what happened. She said she had made a mistake and that it would never happen again, as long as we didn’t say anything, so we didn’t.

Debbie and I broke up early that summer. She had gone to the beach with my sister Linda one day and came back with some guy she had met. She was going out with him that night. I was destroyed, absolutely crushed. That evening I asked my mother if she would give me a ride to Debbies house so that I could talk to her, “Sure” she said. On the way over to Debbies the radio was playing some love song. I looked at my mother and said “You know, I never really understood what they meant when they sang about the blues or a broken heart, now I do.” My mother looked at me with a tear in her eye and said “Honey, I’m glad your going through this now instead of later.” I didn’t understand what she meant. How could anybody be glad about what I was going though?

It wasn’t until much later in my life that I understood those words of wisdom my mother said to me. I guess my mother knew alot about heartache and heartbreak

“The Bean Bag Chair”

November 8, 2007

beanbag.jpg I wanna live with a cinnamon girl, I could be happy the rest of my life with a cinnamon girl”
(Neil Young)

My family and I had been living on Wescott Steet in Sunland California for about a year. I was in my last year of junior high which was ninth grade. Back then we started high school in tenth grade. My mother and Rick were rarely seeing each other and on the verge of divorce. There had been just to many nasty beatings and arguments. The only things that kept me strong threw those days was my surfing and my singing in The Purple Freightrain. Music and surfing have always been my savior.

It was on a Saturday evening when Jimmy “our drummer” called and told me about a party and asked me if I wanted to go. “Sure” I said “Meet me at my house at eight, my brother said he’ll give us a ride.” “OK see ya in awhile” I said. “Cool, a spur of the moment party” I thought to myself as I started to get dolled up. I twisted up a couple of joints just before leaving my house. Yeah I was smoking pot now on a regular basis. I had a really good connection. In fact I was moving some of it for them, made a little money and got my stash for free. So now I was a criminal. “Yeah Baby!”

Don drove Jimmy and I up to some house in Tujunga that I had never been to. “Dude, who’s place is this?” I asked Jimmy.” Some girl named Tammy her parents went to Vegas” he said. “Cool.” The house was a classic old California bungalow with a big covered front porch where alot of kids were hanging out, drinking and getting high. Jimmy got busy right away with a girl he knew from school, so I went inside. The lighting was dim except for the blacklights over the posters and a few colored lightbulbs. People were milling about some were stoned and trippin others were just getting started. The stereo was playing The Moody Blues “Lovely to See You” I started walking around looking for some cute girl(s) that I could smoke one of these doobies with. As I was heading back out to the front porch I heard a girls voice say “Hey!” I looked around and I saw this blond haired girl sitting alone in a bean bag chair in a dark corner of the room. “Come sit with me” she said. I walked over to her and she skooched over in the bag and said “here’s a spot for you.” Standing over her and looking down at her I could get a better idea of what she looked like. She looked good. I sat down. We were right next to each other in that bean bag. “Whats your name cutie?” I asked. “Debbie, and yours?” “Keith” “I’ve been watching you roaming around the house. What are you looking for?” “Ahh someone to smoke this joint with me.” “I’ll smoke it with you.” “Cool” We sat there in the bean bag and smoked the first joint. We small talked the details. Where ya from, what school, got any brothers or sisters. etc. etc. Finally I asked her if she had a boyfriend. “No” she said. Then she asked me if I had a girlfriend. “No” I said. I was looking at her not saying anything. Her face was absolutely beautiful! She asked me If I wanted something to drink and I said “Sure” “I’ll go get us something.” She slowly peeled herself out of the bean bag and stood up. “Wow!” I thought to myself as I took in the whole picture “this girl is a stone fox!” She was about five two with thick wavy long blond hair. She was wearing some tight hip hugger bell bottoms and a white linen peasant blouse with some flowers embroidered on it. She was the quintessential California hippie girl. A natural beauty.

She came back to the bean bag and handed me a bottle of Boones Farm Strawberry Wine. I took a sip and handed it back to her. Then she took a sip and turned to me. Shazaam! We kissed, and kissed, and kissed. We couldn’t stop kissing. We stayed in that bean bag for hours until she said she had to go home. “I remembered her saying that her house was only a couple blocks from the party. I said “can I walk you home?” “I was hoping you would” she said. We got up and started walking the two blocks to her house. She reached out to hold my hand and never let go of it. When we got to her place we kissed and kissed. “Can I see you tomorrow?” I asked “I’d love that” she said. “I’ll call you when I get back from the beach.” I told her. “The beach?” she said “its November” “I’m going surfing with my buddy Marcos.” “Your a surfer?” she asked “Yeah I guess I forgot to tell you” “Wow” she said, like she was impressed. “OK Keith, please call me when you get back from the beach OK?” “I promise.” I said to her.

It was 1 o’clock in the morning, I had a five mile walk home from Debbies house. I never felt my feet touch the ground.

Debbie and I fell in love. For a year and a half we were always together. I never before felt so much happiness. So much curiosity. So much naivete, So much about what life is all about. So much about how good my girl looked in a bikini.