SKYPILOTDATE: Monday, January 30, 2002
Santa Monica, California

The search for the perfect beach hasn't taken us any farther than from Santa Monica to Venice. There's so much packed into that area you could spend a whole month soaking up the atmosphere and the sun and sand and surf.

Plenty of gawkers and plenty to gawk at. Kids glore and plenty of playground equipment to cavort upon.


Here's three dudes come all the way from Colorado to catch up on the action, also, "Takin' care of bidness," the dude in the middle says while at the chess park there's quiet contemplation of the next move.

The rings are a popular gymnastics hangout. Everyone tries their strength and skill of swinging from one ring to another and then turning around and swinging back. There was a class of kids being taught by a buffed longhaired instructor who took to the rings to display his tricks.



Sun going down, time to mellow, no green flash tonight.

I've finally got a handle on this Santa Monica scene. It's all ritual and tribal. Walking on that 3rd Street Promenade with all the glitz and glitter and riches and fashion statements there are small groups of tribal people hanging out like jungle people is the best way I can think of it. There were five or six of them, holding large cardboard flattened containers, looking at them, sniffing them, pawing at the wrapping tape. In front of them were three men who stood with arms crossed like guards. What was going on and what was in those packages? I stopped like some kind of anthropologist studying the local life forms; jawed with the guards, gave them my leftover burrito and beans, didn't have the nerve to take any pictures; but spent enough time to figure out that there wasn't anything inside the carboard packages. It didn't seem to matter. The facsination was in taking them apart, holding them up and sniffing them and exchanging guttural talk; it seemed to be enough.

I went on and passed groups passing one another exhorting each other in a growling chant, couldn't quite make it out: Oghhh Ooogs. Then I got it. They were football fans from Washing State: the Cougers. Decked out in the school colors. Go Cougs is what they were saying. Bizarro to the extreme. I was in my element.

SKYPILOTDATE: Monday, December 30, 2002
Santa Monica, California

Back to the beach. Sitting against the wall that runs alongside the pier. Musing and perusing.

Life is a blank page waiting to be filled. We went to the beach and leaned against the wall and watched the citizens walk past carrying their flashlights so they wouldn't get scared under the pier peering into the dark while slurping their smoothies keeping me from falling into somnolence.

It's up and at em, over to the bike rental, mount up and head south on the bike path, never get enough of riding to Venice and back digging the sights and sounds along the way. Beautiful warm sunny day and the throngs and thronging and the thongs are thonging and the songs are songing and je's gotta add to the revelry, so blow reveille and tap your feet to the beat, to the beats, to the spontaneous ejaculation of words and rhythms and zounds but the occasion is rising to meet the demands.

Electric guitar strums background to a jazz flute, a bamboo flute, not eight inches long, never repeats a riff, five minutes, ten minutes with a short pause and into it again and when done a big hug and rapping old musical acquaintances and accompanyants with nods to the appreciative folk listening and watching.

At the other end of the musical scale, at the societal scale, at the ages scale, a young lad, individual in his effort, with music stand and songbook affixed, tootles his clarinet up and down the arpeggios muy fortissimo y sliding glissando con basso profundo goose honks and inadvertent jammed reed shrieks, his instrument case at his feet, a few wadded bills, some loose change, ah, it's a living.

I snap a quick over the shoulder shot at the most famous Venice Beach boardwalk musician, the turbaned, guitar player, his amp in his backpack, scooting on roller blades, he's been in movies, on TV, a local fixture and sharp, too, spots me taking the pic, shoots right over in my face, tight alongside, he's skating, I'm scooting, he's playing his guitar like Jimi Hendrix and singing like Satchmo:

There's a black hole and you are shooting right to it.
There's a red planet and your shoes take you right to it.
What are you going to do when you get to Mars?

And I answer in my best Springsteen growl:

I'm gonna start a colony on Mars.

And we go back and forth:

What's that colony on Mars gonna do?
Gonna raise tobbaccy for smoke and for chew.
What else is there on Mars for you to do?
Gotta parcel off the land where people walk through.
What kind of stores are you going to have on Mars?
A photography store and red rocks in my jars.
You gonna be a big real estate man up there on Mars?
Somebody gotta be the one who runs the bars.

And on like that for a good while until he ends the song and smiles and cups his hand and I do the same thinking it is a Himalayan exhange of mutual admiration and friendship but no, he wants change and doesn't want to hear about change comes from inside so I say, "What about me? I was half the show, or maybe a third since I didn't play a gittar. Don't I get some change?"

He shakes his head, no, he's not buying that jive, so I dig into my pocket and come up with a quarter and a nickel and put the loot in his cupped hands and he picks out the nickel and hands it back, so I get something for my contribution and we are all even, joe toe, square one.

On the way back to the bike rental we spot the sax player I've been hearing blowing extemporaneous Coleman Hawkins up and down the bike path, all the while zipping along on his skateboard, leading us to our beach front home, happy so far with our search but knowing we still have a ways to go.

As Scarlett said to Cheech, "Manana is un autre dia." Or in other words, "Hit the hay, chump, you got a big day tomorrow."

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