Well it’s a cold, rainy, wet wednesday morning and I didn’t get to work today. I use my cell phone alarm to wake me, but last night I turned it off because some bill collectors have been buggin me. I thought I would turn it back on before I had to wake up. Yeah right! Needless to say I over slept and with my job you can’t just show up an hour late. You have to be there at a specific time or else you don’t work. So I guess the bill collector did manage to stick it to me. So with my ipod jammin some killer tunes and me poised at my keyboard lets go!
“Grandma I need to let you know that I will be moving out in a week.” I said “What! Why on earth are you going to do a thing like that? Your living rent free with a good job and saving money. Why on earth?” Grandma you know how much I love to surf and you know how much I love the beach and I’m not leaving my job. A place right on the beach has fallin in my lap and I took it. I’ve already made a payment and deposit so it’s etched in stone.” “You do whatever you want” she said in disgust. The following week was nothing but the cold shoulder. We said no more than 5 words to each other. It was awful, and I really felt bad. But at eighteen your gonna do what you want and I did.
On April 1st the Antman and I went up to Mussel Shoals California to 1578 Pacific Coast Highway, my new address. I loved writing “Pacific Coast Highway” on my mail. I brought my surfboard and gear, my clothes and that Indian rug I’ve been lugging around. Our place was partially furnished but we wanted to decorate it to our specs. So the next day we drove out to Glendale California in my new VW panel van to an import store that had everything we needed. Doorway beads, tapestries, brass, giant throw pillows, incense and a really cool water pipe. Our place looked like the inside of Lawrence of Arabia’s tent.
Two weeks after moving to the coast I went to working nights 3pm to midnight. Perfect for surfing during the day. I was in absolute heaven. I had money, a car and was living my dream. I met new people and made new friends. I loved the lifestyle and laid back attitudes of people that lived on the coast. It was a peaceful easy feelin. So I decided to throw a big party!
About two months later in June as the days got longer and warmer I decided to take some of my money and throw a huge outdoor party. I got together with the residents of the community and we all agreed to go ahead with it. Now Mussel Shoals is a small coastal hamlet, a little niche on the coast. At that time there was probably 45 to 50 dwellings many used just as a vacation home. Maybe two thirds were year round residents. Inside this community there was a large lot about the size of half a football field. The lot was situated at the entry to an oil pier with beach on each side of the lot and the pier. A perfect setup for a party on the water. I contacted my old friend Jimi Williamson the drummer from “The Purple Freight Train” the band I once sang in. I had heard of a project that he was playing in called “Clean Slate” and I asked if they would like to come up from LA and play, Jimi agreed. I had a band! Next on my list was to get some beer. Lots of beer. I went to Pats Liquor in Carpinteria and ordered 10 kegs of beer and a bunch of red plastic cups to be picked up on the day of the event. Party promotion was all word of mouth. Keep in mind this all took place in 1974 when you could freely do such things.
Saturday morning the day of the party. I awoke to the distant sound of wood saws and hammers going. I made a cup of coffee and walked down to the “lot.” It was a beautiful sunny day with no surf, but thats OK stuff needed to be done. Arby and a couple of his carpenter friends were building a stage for the band. Other neighbors were routing lights and electricity out to the stage. I was stunned at the enthusiastic participation of the community, you don’t see that anymore unless it’s a disaster or crime. I said good morning and thank you to everyone. I walked back to my house and the phone rang. There was a guy on the other end named Ronnie he said that he was in a band and he wanted to know if they could come up and play. I don’t know how he got my number but thats not important. My mind started thinking “Wow! two live bands!” I asked him for his phone number and said that I’d call him back. I called Jimi to ask him about putting another band on the bill. He said “No problem bro.” So I called Ronnie back and said “sure dude, pack it up.” “Right on man we’re gonna rock it!” “I expect nothing less Ronnie”
4:20pm Saturday the stage is built, Clean Slate arrives and starts setting up. Not long after Clean Slate Ronnie showed up with his band called “Dreams” I decided to set up Dreams on a concrete foundation slab next to the stage, the original spot for a band if a stage was not built. Clean Slate got the stage, Dreams got the slab. Dreams opened and Clean Slate closed. Entertainment schedule done.
6:45pm I take a shower and get all dolled up. I throw on a pair of Levis my flip flops and my favorite Yater Surfboards T-Shirt. I go out to the living room and the Antman is twisting up doobies for the evening. “Spark one up bro” I select one from the half dozen rolled on the table and spark it. I have not had a hit all day and I take a nice long pull. I hold it until I begin to feel the expansion, expand hold, expand hold, expand, I let out a huge cloud of smoke and start coughing violently “I gotta drive up to Carp and get the beer” I croak out to Antman.”Hey that reminds me” said Antman “Bruce said you could use his old Chevy pickup truck to put the kegs in then you could tap three at a time and serve it off the tailgate.” “Brilliant!” I said. I walked down the street and talked to Bruce about using his truck he said “no problem” he gave me the key and I gave him a nice fatty. I fired up the old 54 and drove up to Carpinteria.
7:07pm I went to “The Spot” and got a burger and onion rings for my dinner. Always eat a good meal before you start drinkin. I arrived at Pats Liquor and got my kegs, ice, buckets, taps, red cups and started heading back to Mussel Shoals. It was getting close to dusk as I arrived back. I pulled off of PCH into the little hamlet and I was stunned. There were already hoards of people arriving. Groups of people were walking down to the “Lot,” cars were funneling off of Pacific Coast Highway and jockeying for parking spaces. I saw Bruce and the Antman as I pulled in and crept the old Chevy through the neighborhood trying to get down to the Lot. “Dude this thing is getting huge! and it hasn’t even started yet!” said Bruce. As I got the beer wagon down to the Lot there was already about a hundred people there. The bands were set up and sound checking. A cheer went up when I pulled onto the lot and found a spot right in front of the “pier for the beer.” A crowd charged the truck as I got out to climb into the bed and tap the kegs. I heard a familiar voice yell “Hey Keith you need some help?” as I looked out among the growing crowd I saw my good friend Jeff that I met shortly after moving in. “Get up here now bro!” I yelled. Jeff plowed through the crowd and jumped up into the bed of the truck and helped me get everything flowin. “This is gonna be insane dude!” he said as we worked. “Yeah I know!” I said.
That night as soon as the last sliver of sun dropped into the blue Pacific “Dreams” launched into the Allman Brothers Statesboro Blues followed by Southbound and Whipping Post turned out these guys were big Allman Brothers fans. They also played songs from The Marshall Tucker Band and 38 Special and of course Lynard Skinner I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were.
Then “Clean Slate” hit the stage. Lights Camera Action! They played almost all of David Bowies’ Ziggy Stardust as well as Mott The Hoople, Lou Reeds Velvet Underground and others. They blew everyones mind.
People danced and mingled as a big bon fire was going on the beach. I got off the truck for awhile and mingled about. As I was walking through the crowd I had three different girls come up to me at different points and say “Are you the guy that threw this party?” “Yeah” all three of them gave me a big kiss. “That makes it all worth it” I thought.
I never got drunk that night. I got a little buzzed but I needed to keep things in control. Not that I could do anything about it if it got out of control but I felt a responsibility. But what was really amazing was the cops never came! Yeah thats right the cops never came. There were no fights. No car accidents or fender benders, nothing. Buy 3:00am everything was over except the clean up. I went to bed and got up around 10am and walked down to the lot to survey the damage and clean up. As I walked down to the lot I noticed no trash along the way no red plastic mugs, cigarette packs or butts. When I got to the lot it looked like nothing ever happened. Nothing! Even the stage was gone. You see back then communities pulled together for parties and disasters.