Archive for the ‘Camping’ Category

My First Wife and Only Child “Epilog”

December 1, 2010

It’s been almost three years since I’ve decided to write this next installment.  A lot has happened but thats another story.  So lets close this chapter up so we can move on.

I discovered that being married was not much different from living together. We both did our thing and at the end of the day we were together at home.  It worked out to be a really nice groove.  Carol worked at the restaurant and I did odd jobs and surfed.  Then one day Carol told me she was pregnant.  Yep pregnant.  I was stunned.  I had been living in the bliss of ignorance for a long time.  I’d never gotten a girl pregnant in my life until then. I thought I was shootin blanks.  “Yeah thats it blanks.”  Well you idiot you’re not shooting blanks  she’s a very fertile catholic girl.

Carol was elated by her new-found condition.  I on the other hand had to let it all sink in for a while before I could decide what I was feeling and I don’t think Carol liked that. It took me a week of soul-searching to come to grips with the whole situation.  So out of necessity I warmed up to the idea that “I” was going to be a father.  We told our friends about the blessed event including my in-laws which were “kinda” cool with it.  So here we were 6 months into the marriage and with child.  Things were changing faster than I could even imagine!

Having a new baby on the way meant it was time for me to really step up to the plate and get a good responsible job and maybe even a career.  I never really knew what I wanted to be except when I was around seven years old.  I wanted to be a jet fighter pilot flying F-86 Sabre Jets just like Steve Canyon.  Well I was along way from that dream.  So a meat cutter was my next option.  At that time there was  a large meat-packing facility just up the 101 freeway in Carpenteria about two miles from where we were living.  I decided I was going to put in an application and try my hardest to land a job as a union working apprentice meat cutter.  So I  went in and filled out the long application and turned it in to the receptionist. “We’ll call you as soon as there is an opening.” She said to me.  “OK thanks!”  As I left the building I really thought I was on my way to a new career.  So I went surfing.  For about a month.  I kept checking back with the meat-packing house calling on the phone, showing up personally but I just kept getting the same answer. “We’ll call you as soon as there is an opening.

Then one day I was looking through the want ads in the Santa Barbara News Press. “MEAT CUTTER WANTED WILL TRAIN RIGHT PERSON”  I called immediately.  “Hello?”  “Yes I’m calling about the position you posted in the paper for a meat cutter.  Is the position still available?  Great I’ll come by today to fill out an application.”  I spruced up and jumped into my Rambler  wagon and sped off to Percals Meats on Milpas Street in Santa Barbara.  I met Jim the owner. Jim was a big thick meat cutter of a man wearing a blood stained apron.  Percals was a retail and wholesale butcher shop supplying meats to the public as well as many restaurants in the area.  Jim took me to the back office and we talked.  I told him about my wanting to get into the packing house in Carpinteria and how much I wanted to break into being a butcher.  He liked my dedication not to mention I was a 21-year-old man-child with a new baby coming.  I got the job without filling out an app.

I had been working at Percals for 6 months learning the ropes. I mostly learned to chop up chickens on the band saw.  Then I learned how to de-bone chickens with a boning knife.  Then I learned how to make ground beef with different percentages of fat content.  Then I learned how to make sausages.  I also drove the delivery van to the restaurants with their orders.  I really liked my job and felt like this was what I wanted to do.  Then one day the swell got really, really good.  I hadn’t missed a day from work in six months and I was never late.  So I decided to take a day off to surf.  I called in and told Jim that my car had sprung a leak in one of the freeze plugs so I was going to stay home and fix it myself. He said “OK”  So I jumped into my car and headed down the coast to my old stomping grounds the pier at Mussle Shoals.

The surf that day was soooo good!  I surfed with some of my buddies that lived at the Rincon Cliff House Johnny, Dave, and Chuck.  We surfed all day till dusk.  I got home exhausted.  Carol asked me how the surf was “Awesome!” I said.  Then she handed me the note that had been stuck on our front door earlier that day.  “Came down from the shop to take you to work.  Didn’t see you or your car.  Must be running OK.  Surf looks really good too!”  Mike was another surfer that worked at Percals.  He knew what I was doing and he was jealous.  “I hope it was good enough to lose your job over.”  Carol said.  “I’m not going to lose my job.  Shit I haven’t missed a day since I started working there.  Fuck! all I did was go surfing!”  The next day I was fired.

Carol was getting pretty big with that baby in the oven and I was pretty pissed off at the world after that SOB Jim fired me.  I had to find another job pronto.  I looked, and looked, and looked. Nothing.  We were just getting by week to week.  Carols parents helped us out with some cash to live on.  Then I found another job in the paper.  WANTED LIQUOR STORE CLERK  Oh yeah!  I jumped on it!  My interview went very well and I got the job.  In retrospect I think people kinda feel sorry for you when your young and have a baby coming so sometimes getting a job is easier.  Anyway I was now working in retail as a liquor clerk and I was also in the Retail Clerks Union. I was making $8.50 to start which was pretty good in 1976.  I really loved working at Miratti’s Liquors.  They had several stores throughout Santa Barbara and I worked at the main store on the corner of Mission and De la Vina streets.  The clientele were awesome, my boss was cool, and the hours were great 3pm till 11:30pm friday through thursday.  I was to be employed there for 5 years

Life was getting pretty darn good going into Carols final trimester of pregnancy.  I was holden down the fort with my income from Miratti’s  I was surfing in the mornings and on my days off.  Everything was flowing.  Then it got really, really sad

It was mid February and I had the day off from work so I walked down the road from the house to surf Rincon.  It was late afternoon and I was starting to get a little edgy about leaving Carol alone this close to her due date.  Then one of my water buddies told me that my wife was on the beach calling me.  I looked back down the point and saw Carol in the cove wearing her Hawaiian moo moo waiving her arms and calling for me.  “uh oh looks like it’s on.”  Right away I caught a wave and rode it to shore.  Carol had a really bad look on her face.  “Are you OK ? Do we need to go to the hospital?  Did your water break?”  Carol looked at me I could see tears welling up in her eyes.  “Whats goin on honey?”  “Your sister is up at the house.”  “Yeah so whats up?”  Carol started crying.  “your brother Guy has been in an accident.” “Now what?” I said.  “Did he get into another dirt bike crash?”  “No”  “Did he do something surfing?” “He was hit head on by a drunk driver.” she could hardly get it out.  I could not believe what I was hearing.  Instead I thought “Oh boy he’s gonna be really banged up for a while.”  We walked back to the house where my sister Gail was.  When I walked into the living room and looked at her she looked like she’d been through the ringer. She gave me a hug and started crying really hard shaking in my arms.  Thats when I started to grasp the reality of the situation.  “How bad is he?”  “He’s really bad we need to go to the hospital.”  So we all got in the car and headed down the coast to Thousand Oaks crying the whole way.  As I was drivng I asked Gail what happened.  “Guy and Joe were coming back from a high school basketball game when a drunk driver in a four wheel drive truck hit them head on.”  “Hows Joe” I asked. “Hanging on by a thread” Gail said. “Then hows Guy?” no answer.  I knew then how bad it really was.  I went into the emergency room where my brother was being kept alive with machines.  I held his hand and told him how good the waves were that day.  Then I kissed his forehead and told him how much I loved him.  We buried Guy Leslie Miller a few days later with a stone that read. “May the Wind Always Blow Offshore”

Four weeks later Carol gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Olivia.  In 18 months I had got married, lost my brother, and had a child.  I was only 22 years old.  Then Carols parents decided we needed a bigger place so they put down a down payment on a house in Ventura CA. five whole blocks from the water.  All we had to do was pay the mortgage.  I left Carol and Olivia after two years to march to the beat of a different drummer.  Or so I thought.

A lady stands before an open window

Staring so far away

She can almost feel the southern wind blow

Almost touching her restless day

She turns from her window to me

Sad smile her apology

Sad eyes reaching to the door

Daylight loses to another evening

And still she spares me the word goodbye

And sits alone beside me fighting her feelings

Struggles to speak but in the end can only cry

Suddenly it’s so hard to find

The sound of the words to speak her troubled mind

So I’m offering these to her as if to be kind:

There’s a train everyday leaving either way

There’s a world you know

There’s a way to go

And you’ll soon be gone — that’s just as well

This is my opening farewell

A child’s drawing left there on the table

And a womens silk lying on the floor

And I would keep them if I were able

Lock her safe behind this open door

But suddenly it’s so clear to me

That I asked her to see what she may never see

And now my kind words find their way back to me

There’s a train everyday leaving either way

There’s a world you know

You got a way’s to go

And I’ll soon believe — it’s just as well

This is my opening farewell.

“Jackson Brown”  This is My Opening Farewell

“Just a Temporary Side Track”

June 2, 2008

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning in this corner of the world as I awake groggy from my Saturday night affairs. I make a pot of java and get a quick shower. I have no pressing engagements or responsibilities to uphold, don’t you love days like that?

So I decide to drive the 15 miles down the freeway to the only open music store in the area. It’s called “Guitar Center.” I find a place to park and I walk in. I need a capo and some picks so I go to the accessories counter and pick-up my stuff. I don’t get to this store very often so I decide to go look around in their “acoustic guitar room” a glass doored room filled with beautiful high quality acoustic guitars hanging from the walls saying “Play Me” So I grab a beautiful Martin 12 string to play. It sounds and plays absolutely amazing. As I  finish another customer with his female friend comes into the room. I see him pick up another Martin and begin playing a beautiful melody in the key of E. He is finger picking and plays very well. I decide to pick up the 12 string I was playing earlier and acompany him with some lead phrases. We are sounding great together. He looks over at me, I look over at him and his friend. We all smile. We play for about 3 minutes and end the jam perfectly. “Wow!” he says that was awesome.” “Excellent playing dude!” I respond. “That was fun!” I put down the 12 string and walk out the door of the “acoustic room”.

As I’m leaving I hear a rare song over the store sound system called “It’s a Shame About Ray” by The Lemonheads. It’s one of my favorite songs and you will never hear it on the radio. I get a really big case of the goose bumps and for a moment life is really good!

Rock Me On The Water

January 27, 2008

Water Pipe 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.

“View From My Kitchen”

December 28, 2007

The Pier Even as a restorer of some men’s souls, the seashore has less magic than it held until a few short years ago. Seldom nowadays can one seek and find solace and refreshment from a seaside wilderness — that desert of water, sand, and sky where the only sounds are the lazy pounding of a summer surf, the faint rustle of the wind in the dune grasses, and the occasional cry of a tern. No section of our shore is now free from the jeep and the airplane. It is difficult to become attuned to the ancient rhythm of the sea while assailed by rock-and-roll from a portable radio.

Taken from The National Park Service “Pacific Coast Recreation Survey” 1960.

I had been living with my grandmother for about six months and working at Northrup as a fiberglass fabrication technician. I still didn’t have a car and Thelma was my only way to get around and getting around meant going to work and back. Sometimes I would go to the grocery store with her just to break things up a bit. My life was very boring. Sometimes my old surfing friends from the Rock “Antman” and Marcos would come by on the weekend and take me surfing. How I loved those days when I could get out and hang and surf with my buddies. Not to mention the chance to smoke a little weed and drink some Mead Wine from a botta bag.

Then one day we went to Mussel Shoals to surf the pier. Our friend Arby had moved to the coast about a year earlier and was renting a duplex there right on the water. We parked in front of his house and went surfing. The surf was really good and we surfed for about six hours straight. Later that afternoon we were all kicking back on Arbys sun deck watching the other locals getting their wave quota in for the day. Really great surfers like Dan Riley, Mike Reese, and Ross Cave were tearing it up in the late afternoon emerald green waves coming through the pier.

It was then that I thought to myself “I wanna live here, not San Diego, not Huntington Beach, not San Luis, but right here!” Then Arby said something that blew my mind. “Hey if anyone is interested the place down below is going up for rent at the end of the month.” “Really!” I said “Yeah April 1st” “How much?” I asked “$450” said Arby. “It’s got two bedrooms but one is pretty small it has a nice living room and a really cool kitchen with a big picture window looking out at the pier”. I started thinkin.”I have some money saved up but If I moved I would need a car so I could get to work. Plus $450 would be a little tight for one person to swing. If I could split it that would be just fine. Plus I would need to give a first, last and a damage deposit.” Basically I needed a car and a roommate. I told Arby that I was very interested but I had to work some things out. He said “If you want it I need to know within a week and I’ll refer you to the owner.” “Cool, thats fine” I said.

On the way back to grandmas house I was determined to get that house on the beach. The money to pull it all off would completely tap my savings. Especially the car. I would have to buy a cheap transportation vehicle that would get me through the 40 mile round trip to work everyday. Then a few days later when Thelma and I had come home from work, Thelma was going through the mail and said “Looks like you got something, it looks important” “Shit not another legal surprise” I thought. I took the envelope and opened it. It was a check made out to me for $5000. It was a life insurance policy that was from my mother. I felt a tear come to my eye then I started to cry really hard. “What’s wrong Keith?” Thelma asked. I couldn’t speak I handed her the papers and check. It took seven months for my mothers death to finally hit me. “I’ll be darned” she said “What?” I said “I didn’t think they would pay on this because it was a suicide” “Well they did” I said.

I put the check in my bank account with the rest of my savings. I had enough money to move to the beach, buy a nice car and have plenty left over. All I needed was a roommate. I called Antman back on the Rock. “Hey bro whats happening” “nothing how about you?” “Well dude I called to ask you something” What is it?” “Remember when Arby said the unit down below him was going to be available next month?” “Yeah” “How would you like to move in with me and spilt the rent?” “Really” “Yeah really” “Man I’d be stoked to move in there dude, but I don’t have enough dough for the deposit.” “Tell ya what I’ll do. I’ll pay the deposit and you get the smaller bedroom. Deal?” “Fuck yeah bro that sounds great!”

I now had a roommate. The next weekend Antman and I went to Arby’s house to meet the landlord and look at the duplex. It was such a hip California beach pad. I gave them a check for everything and signed a year lease. As we were walking back upstairs to Arby’s place I mentioned that I needed to buy a car. “You looking for a ride bro?” Arby said. “Yeah” I said. Well there’s a guy right around the corner selling a really nice 1969 VW panel bus. You should go over and take a look at it.” I walked around the corner and saw the bus in the guys driveway. It was a very clean yellow VW panel van. I talked to the owner and drove it. I gave him a deposit to hold it for me for one week. I now had a car. Not just a car but a VW van to go to work in and keep my surfboard and gear in. In two weeks I would be living on the beach in Southern California. At age 18 the real “Surfing Lifestyle” was truly just starting.

Now all I had to do was tell my grandmother.

“Grandma Drove a Porsche” conclusion

December 26, 2007

grandmas-porsche.jpgI fought the law and the law won…

Well that holiday is over and New Years is no big deal with me. I’ve always thought of my birthday as a new year of life to plow through.

After I hung up the phone with “The Man” Thelma asked me who it was because a call for me at her house was extremely rare because nobody knew where I was. Except “The Man” “UUuhhh it was just an agent with the Federal Secret Service Department” I tried to make it sound nonchalant but thats hard to do with the words agent, federal and secret. “What! are you in some kinda trouble?” Thelma asked. “Yeah I think I am” “What do you mean you think you are? That was the Federal Secret Service your damn right your in some kind of trouble! So what is it?” “Uuhhhh I think it might have something to due with forgery” I said. “Forgery! what the hell did you do?” When my grandmother said “hell” I knew she was pissed off. “Well about a year ago I received an income tax check in my mailbox for a friend of mine that was fighting in Viet Nam. I held on to it for awhile then one day a buddy came over to my house and we managed to get it cashed at my bank.” OK I spilled the beans to granny. “Why did you do a stupid, idiotic thing like that?” she asked. “Because I was broke and hungry. I think those are two pretty good reasons.” I didn’t tell her about all the beer and weed we bought.”

So what are they going to do come over here and arrest you?” “No they gave me the option of going down to L.A. tomorrow on my own accord” I said. “Well it looks like we are both taking tomorrow off from work then” she said.” I’m sorry grandma but I’m trying to turn my life around” “Well your life might get turned around sooner than you think!” she said to me. “What do you mean by that? “There’s a good chance that you might be going to prison for a stay.” “Fuck! I hadn’t even thought about that yet.

“I didn’t sleep well at all that night. Early the next morning Thelma and I got up early to get ready for my big day in Los Angeles at The Federal Building. It was a beautiful sunny day as we made our way through the morning traffic. I had been thinking about going to prison all night long and I was getting to the where I had resigned myself to the point of accepting my fate. I had imagined how I would deal and cope with prison life with a thousand made up senereos going through my head over and over. I’ll just shut up, lift weights and kick ass if I have to.

We arrived at the Federal Building at 7:40am for my 8 O’clock appointment. Thelma waited in the lobby of the Secret Service Office as I went in to see “The Man” I sat alone in an office not unlike one you would see at a police department. There were men in suits and ties as well as a few uniformed officers around. Then a gentleman in a black suit came out to the room and said “Mr. Keith Miller” “Yes sir” I formally replied. “Come with me.” We went into a stark room used for questioning where another “agent” sat waiting for me at a table. The scene was just like in the movies where they beat the shit out of you. I sat down at the table while the man who brought me in stood behind me. The man at the table started his questioning with “Why don’t you tell me why your here today Mr. Miller” I told him why I thought I was there and I was right. “Do you know you could go to prison for up to five years for this kind of offense?” the agent said “Shit five years!” I thought to myself. “No I didn’t sir””Well Mr. Miller we are going to have to arrest you and put you in the holding cell until later today when we can put your case before a judge” Then they handcuffed me and a uniformed officer took me to my cell. As I was being escorted I said to anyone that was listening. “Hey can somebody tell my grandmother in the lobby what’s going on so she knows.” “We’ll tell your granny” the rookie cop escorting me said with a smart ass attitude.

About an hour later a man that I hadn’t met entered the room where my holding cell was. He said he was a public defender and he told me exactly what to say when I met the judge that afternoon. “When the judge asks you how do you plead say guilty.” he said “But if I say guilty I could go to prison” I said “So you think lying is going to get you out of this? Listen kid you screwed up and they know it. That was a federal income tax check that you forged. Your in the big leagues now.” Fuck I’m up the creek for sure” I thought to myself.

Around 1:30pm I was finally sent to the courtroom to see the judge about my case. I was led into the chambers through a door that came out in the front of the courtroom off to the side. I was in handcuffs and my grandmother was in the courtroom seating. I felt so ashamed for her to see me like that. The judge announced my name and crime then he asked for my plea. “Guilty your honor” I said. “Mr. Miller this is a serious offense I don’t know what you were thinking but I think you know now it was wrong. Because you have no prior criminal record and you are employed and have a place to live I am going to sentence you to three years probation as well as a $1000 dollar fine and you are to pay back James Colton $500 for his income tax refund” he slammed his gavel down.

I was immediately lead back to my holding cell to be released. It’s a very strange feeling when a huge chunk of stress suddenly comes off of you, but I was feeling it then. All I knew was I was not going to prison. I could be good for three years and I had the money for the fines in my bank account. No problem.

I sat in my cell and waited for my release. I waited and I waited and I waited. First an hour then two then three.” What the fuck is going on” I thought. There was no one around to ask and no one was coming back to my area. Finally an officer came back in and I asked him what was going on “Officer I’ve been in here since 2:00p.m. waiting to be released can you find out what the problem is?” I asked “Since 2:00p.m.” he said “Yeah!” “What’s your name? he asked “Keith Miller” “Hold on I’ll go find out.” “Thanks man.” About another half an hour later he came back to my holding cell with the news. “Mr. Miller!” “Yes sir” “Your still under arrest” he said “What! for what!” I yelled. “Apparently you have a traffic ticket that you haven’t payed and it’s gone to warrant.” “FUCK!” I yelled. The officer turned and walked out the door. “WAIT!” I screamed but he didn’t come back. I thought of my poor grandmother out there waiting for me. “She’s out there wondering why I’m not released yet.” Then about another hour later the same officer came back to my cell and said “Mr. Miller your free to go now” as he unlocked my cell. I walked out into the same office that I started this fucked up day in and saw Thelma standing there. “Are you alright?” She asked “Kinda” I said. “Lets go home” “Thats the best thing I’ve heard all day grandma.”

“As we both rode back to Newbury Park in the Camaro I asked Thelma what was going on with her while I was stuck inside the jail. “Well I waited for about two hours and then I asked someone what was going on with your release. They got back to me about an hour later and told me about that ticket you didn’t pay. I asked how much is the bail and they told me $1000 dollars. So I decided to call your Uncle Tom at the District Attorney’s office, he pulled some strings to get you out free and clear.” “Oh yeah uncle Tom” I thought to myself. He had worked his way up through LAPD to an assistant to the District Attorney.

“Thanks grandma” I said with deepest sincerity. “Your welcome. Now do you have anymore surprises?” “UUuuhhhhhh not that I’m aware of.” I half jokingly said. We stopped at Dupars Restaurant in Thousand Oaks on the way home and had dinner. It had been a long day and we both had work tomorrow.

“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!

“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.

” Surfing Rules!”

November 8, 2007

surfing-rules.jpg I started riding skateboards when I was around 10. The steel wheeled ones. Just find a nice sidewalk on a good steep street and go! I have always loved the sensation of speed in all it’s many forms so skateboarding was a natural for me. I got pretty good at it considering the type of equipment we had when I was riding. First steel wheels, then the clay comp or Roller Derby wheels. I did stuff like wheelies, hangin ten, walking the board, 360’s, jumping curbs. Old school stuff.

In my adolescents I sorta stumbled upon my identity. I was watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports when I saw The U.S. Surfing Championships at Makaha Beach. I was mesmerized buy the surf, the speed and the danger. The sport just hit a cord with me. I went to the school library and discovered that they had two issues of Surfer magazine in the mag rack. I poured over those two issues every day at lunch until one day I asked the librarian if they were going to get any new issues in. “You really like those don’t you?” she said to me. “I love em!” “I’ll see what I can do” “Thanks!” About two weeks later I went in the library to re-read “my” mags when I discovered the magazine rack had 4 new Surfing magazines. I grabbed em all. Boy did that lunch hour fly by. I found out later that the librarian got the magazines from her younger brother who had been surfing for years, but was now in Viet Nam.

Needless to say I was not a skater any more. I was a surfer. I didn’t live near the beach or have a surfboard but I was a surfer. The hair got longer, I wore Bermuda shorts, striped T- shirts and a Maltese cross on a chain. Yeah a real poser.

Fortunately my mother really liked to go to the beach and we went alot in the summer. We even rented a house on the beach for summer vacations. I was in heaven on those trips. I imagined that we really did live there year round and that this was our own little beach house.

I started officially surfing at 13-14 years of age. I got my first board from Jacks Surf-shop in Huntington Beach California. A used 9’6″ Jacobs for $60 bucks. I was so proud to have that board. It made me a “real” surfer.

Those first trips to the beach where with my friends Ed Ritchie, Larry Sallows, Paul Zubek, and Larry’s older bother Steve who provided the transportation. We all had boards, we all were beginners and we all had a blast. 5 longboards strapped on top of a 1950 Chevy. All of us going nuts down the highway to go surfing.

About a year went by before all four of my friends lost interest in going surfing. All of them except me. There were not alot of surfers in Sunland but there were a few. It got around that I surfed and I was approached by some of these seasoned older guys about my wave riding. I was invited to go to the beach a few times with these guys. We had some really great times and some fun surfing sessions. I got in with the gang and surfed whenever I could with them.

My love for the sport of surfing has never died. It became my driving force, my destiny. To live on the beach with the surf always out my window. That was my dream. Thank God that dream came true.