Start the music to set the mood…
Summer of 1970 on the beach in L.A. was…different. I was still recovering from a nearly fatal car accident from 1969 and this was my first Summer back from the dead. I had spent from June of 1969 until late August of 1970 in hospital and bed time at home. Still couldn’t walk but sitting worked just fine and that was a huge improvement. I only made it to the beach when I did because of some truly good friends. My girlfriend would drive me there on her way to work and a couple of friends would cross their arms in the old Boy Scout hand chair maneuver and carry me the rest of the way over the sand to where “Everyone” was gathered. Gotta love those guys. I still do.
Because of the accident my perspective had changed utterly. I knew the pace of change in the world had gone off the charts but it was so odd to see how much was different in my little part of it. The guys were more or less the same bunch. I began to understand what the ones coming back from military duty (mostly in Viet Nam) dealt with. Most of them had been removed from The Scene at least twice as long as I had (and in a totally surreal world) so the view as a now outsider must have been truly, intimidatingly bizarre. Music was headed down hill to heavy metal, hair bands, and Disco. Drugs were harder and surfboards were shorter. Hipsters had traded marijuana for coke and my ten foot David Nu’uhiwa nose rider was a dinosaur. A soulful glide across an open face on a chest high wave and interacting with Mother Ocean had morphed into shredding with an almost violent attack of the wave. The wave seemed secondary as you performed skate boards tricks in the water.
The sixties had mellowed and some of the ideas had blossomed or fermented. The best, parts like the Free Love thing, thankfully persisted (flourished?) and things were loose. Better yet the sun was still there and the sand felt just as good as before. The salt in the air smelled just as glorious and the volleyball nets were new. Women awoke to competitive beach volleyball and I had become an expert cheering section for them. I was back in my own little corner of Heaven.
One team had adopted the net closest to where I was usually deposited and I became Guardian of Our Stuff while they played. My duties boiled down to rationing Gatorade out of the cooler and an occasional loudly voiced encouragement. More importantly I was to play the team’s Theme Song “Come and get it” by Badfinger whenever they walked onto the court and especially when they won. I remember one woman in particular. She had injured her leg surfing and had to sit out most of that season. She gladly accepted the position of assisting me in my duties. She tried to teach me the finer points of volleyball and we shared highly exaggerated surf stories. The way she ran her hand through her soft light brown hair was only surpassed in cuteness by the way her nose wiggled as she spoke. Her boyfriend sat with us often and became Team DJ by quickly mastering the timing of the theme song.
They both recently showed up again on my drawing table wanting to be a part of an upcoming art show here in town. The contrast between intense detail and purposeful vagueness feels a bit like that Summer with all of its’ changes. The theme is carried through many of the pieces I’m showing this time. It’s quite a ways from the children book illustrations style I showed previously. Wish me luck !!
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