This Week’s Podcast

Nobody on the road
Nobody on the beach
I feel it in the air
The summer’s out of reach

The Beach Boys brought me to Southern California.

It wasn’t only the hits, I loved the album tracks too.  Everything from "Farmer’s Daughter" off "Surfin’ USA" to "Girl Don’t Tell Me" from "Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)".

In the sixties, California was a state of mind.  A land of opportunity.  Where the old conventions were irrelevant, where you could be your best self.  Where hedonism was not a bad word.

One loses sight of that paradigm residing in L.A.  Where the traffic is so bad you just give up and stay home.  Where, in front of the computer, you might as well be in Aspen.  Or Oklahoma.

But get out of your comfort zone.  Drive an hour south or north, and the dream reappears.

It starts on Crown Valley Parkway.  With the luscious greenery and the lack of strip malls.  And ends up on this promontory above the ocean known as the Ritz Carlton.

You’re just in another hotel room.  Until you wake up and open the door to your patio.  Where in the late fall you’re not confronted with a brisk wind but the warm rays of hope.  The breeze cool against your cheek, but no outerwear being required.

And then you journey through the maze of halls to the elevator bank.  And there you see it.  Outside the window.  The Pacific.  Approximately one hundred feet below it’s the same as it ever was.  On this weekday, in the twenty first century, in an era rife with wireless laptops and cell phones, are thirty surfers.  In wetsuits.  Getting off on nature’s thrill ride.

The waves are coming at a diagonal.  But they’re spaced evenly, there’s no chop, you wonder if the concierge can get you a wetsuit.

And then you look off to the side and see an American Riviera.  No industry in sight.  You don’t quite consider it paradise, but you hope that everybody in the rest of the country doesn’t catch a glimpse, for then they’re going to load up their cars and MOVE HERE!  Just like me.  To the Hotel California.

Yes, the sunniness of the sixties was replaced by the darkness of the seventies.  Emblemized by the Eagles’ 1976 album.  Back when music came on black discs.  When we bought them on faith, without hearing them on the radio first.  I was a fan before, but that record catapulted the act to a new level.  Above everybody else trying.  They’d gotten there.  To the destination.  The intersection of talent, hard work and luck.  In the crucible of the recording studio they created greatness.  Not evanescent genius, just listen to the record today.  It’s about as dated as a Beatle record, which means not much at all.

Last summer I went to see the Eagles at the Santa Barbara County Bowl.  The northern equivalent of Laguna Niguel.  It was a transcendent experience.  I wrote about it, and I recorded a podcast.

That podcast was the second I’d done.  I was experimenting.  I used little music.  In retrospect that was a mistake.  You know all the tunes but when you HEAR the tracks you’re transported.  To a place where your life works, where everything is possible.

Put on your leather jacket.  Go downtown to hang out at CBGB’s.  I’m a Lou Reed fan.  I love "Ocean" off his solo debut.  But that east coast music tends to be intellectual.  I’m looking for something more sensual.  As much as I love to converse, there’s nothing that compares to another person’s touch.  It electrifies you.

Listening to "The Boys Of Summer" electrifies me.  Reminds me why I came to California.  The girl I lived with when it debuted.  My hopes and dreams.  My losses.

Deep inside I’m an optimistic guy.  I’m a believer.  What keeps me going through my dark moments is music.  Stuff like this:

I can see you
Your brown skin shining in the sun
You know you’re walking real slow
Smiling at everyone

My goal is to be the person in this song.  At peace with himself.  Radiating openness and warmth.  Walking in the sand, sans automobile, sans designer clothing, just me.

That’s what the beach is, a great equalizer.

Southern California is beach culture.  Throw off your inhibitions, be the person you always wanted to be.  I think of leaving.  But I never will.  The weather’s great, but it’s the freedom that counts.  The ability to be the real me, to attempt to be the better me.

You can listen or download the podcast from Rhino’s site

Or you can subscribe in the iTunes Music Store.  Just search for Rhino, click on "Podcasts" and it will come up.

OR, click on the link below, and if you’ve got a podcast-ready version of iTunes installed on your computer the program will launch and you can subscribe on the page that results (hang on a second for the process to complete).


This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.