Rhinofy-Five Summer Stories

I was in a ski movie.

The best month of my life was spent in Mammoth Lakes, California, skiing every day during the month of May 1975.

The season had not had an auspicious beginning. I’d broken my leg in a freak accident the first day out. But I recovered enough to hit the hill in January. But bumps were taboo.

But as the year wore on, my leg healed, I hit Gadzooks, bumper’s paradise at Snowbird, and I curried favor with the world’s best freestyle skiers by overloading the ice cream cones I served them at the Birdfeeder, my half day job.

And when the season ended, one of these freestylers let on they were decamping Utah for Mammoth, to get in more skiing. And they let me in because they needed my money, to pay rent.

And I was begrudged at first, but when we got tanked on tequila and I quoted Elton John, claiming it was "seven o’clock and I want to rock", the tide turned, I was accepted into the fraternity.

And a couple of weeks later Scott Brooksbank arrived. The freestyle world champion. Along with another competitor from the PFA, Professional Freestyle Associates, Dave Bossard.

And when one day they suggested going up to Wipeout to make a movie, no one else would go. But I had to prove myself.

And after the camera had been set up on this forty plus degree slope, after Brooksbank and Bossard had dropped in, I popped a spread eagle off the lip and shined for the camera.

And suddenly I was a made man.

But I forgot about the flick until the following fall. When I was invited to a screening at a house in Sandy, Utah.

I’d like to tell you my footage was incredible, but it was a bit overexposed. Yet I’ll never forget that night because that’s when I discovered Honk.

You see there was this incredible music underlying our feats. And when the lights came up, I asked what it was…



They thought I was joking, that the guy who traveled with boxes of cassettes was pulling their leg.

But when they accepted I was truly clueless, that I had no idea what they were talking about, they told me "Five Summer Stories" was…THE BEST SURF MOVIE EVER MADE!

They didn’t show surf movies on the east coast. It was a California phenomenon. Up and down the coast, there was a circuit. Sure, I’d seen "Endless Summer", but this was something different. Surf movies weren’t shown in chain movie theatres, some of these venues hardly showed films at all, but the surf rats flocked to them like lemmings, and in the winter a bunch of these surf rats were ski bums. That’s how we made contact.

And I’m gonna warn you. Don’t mind a surf bum, it takes no money to survive at the beach. Whereas skiing requires equipment and a lift pass. Whenever there was a theft at the ‘Bird, it always turned out to be a surfer…

I made it through another winter in Utah. But after choking on the freestyle circuit and getting the world’s worst case of mononucleosis, I moved to L.A., to attend law school, I felt if I spent one more year in Salt Lake, I’d never leave.

And I rewarded myself by buying the stereo of my dreams. And then I went on a vinyl binge, scouring one record store after another for all those albums I’d forgone during those two years on the road, sleeping on couches and floors.

And at Music Plus in the San Fernando Valley, I found it. "Five Summer Stories". By Honk.

Yes, that was the name of the band. No one used that moniker for the music back in Utah, when I heard snippets on 8-tracks, they just called it "Five Summer Stories".

And eventually Honk signed with Epic.

But they never captured the magic again.

Yet "Five Summer Stories" is a masterpiece.

If you’re living in NYC and wearing your black duds, you might not get it.

But nobody in California is envious of New York. Sure, it’s the greatest city in the world, but they’d rather live in California. Land of freedom, land of possibilities. And that’s what "Five Summer Stories" sounds like. Not exactly permanent vacation, but an environment where you can explore and discover yourself. After listening to this music, you’re gonna want to pick up and move.

Every track on the album is good, but start with "Blue Of Your Backdrop".

It’s the change twenty eight seconds in that grabs you:

Leave them all to the trappings they choose
Values on what one may win or lose
I can’t discern between the two
But with no God above, guess we all start with the things we love

HEED THIS! Laird Hamilton knows better than Lloyd Blankfein. Don’t sell out for the money, don’t do what’s expedient, pursue your dream, do what makes you happy…no, do what you LOVE!

Then, at the 1:04 mark, the track becomes positively MAGICAL!

Be your own saving grace
Tip your hat
Take your place

That’s what I want you to do, shine on. "Blue Of Your Backdrop" is only 2:01 long, but when it’s done, you’re gonna play it over and over and over again.

And be sure to listen to the "Blue Of Your Backdrop" instrumental. It’s like waking up on a bright sunny day in Hawaii. You just want to go out and eat up life. Yup, kiss your girl or boyfriend on the lips and seize the day.

Then check out "Don’t Let Your Goodbye Stand"…

It’s like a cross between Loggins & Messina and an acoustic number from the White Album.

Be sure to catch the change at 1:19, when he sings about the brand new loom and shopping trips to town. Yes, this was the early seventies, when we went back to the land, to our roots, after the disillusionment of Vietnam. Women bought looms. Ask your mother.

And "Lopez" sounds like sunset. You can see it. With your elbow on your knee and a tequila sunrise in your hand.

Then comes the surf music. The background to that ski footage so long ago.

"Pipeline Sequence" was the number. The organ enthralls you, but then it and the guitar speak to each other, the track explodes, you’re completely in the moment, like a surfer riding the curl. Surfing and skiing have one thing in common…if you don’t pay attention, if you think about anything else, you fall. That’s why they’re such great sports, they squeeze everything else out of your mind.

And "Tunnel Of Love" and "Brad And David’s Theme" are essentially the same number, but the latter is acoustic. They both connote mindless doing, being in the moment. And that’s where you should strive to be.

And there’s a bit of country and music that resembles nothing so much as a jig. Like life, there’s more than one sound.

Richard Stekol ended up playing with the Funky Kings.

But the rest of Honk faded away. Yet this music still radiates.

The movie’s no match for the music. When I ultimately saw it, I was disappointed. But the soundtrack always puts a smile on my face.

Maybe you won’t get it. Maybe you’ll think I’ve lost my mind.

That’s okay.

That’s why I live in California and you don’t. You’re still quoting your SAT scores, worried about your place in the pecking order, proud that you’re pasty and overburdened. I’m into self-realization. I’m into being a better me. And for this I need a soundtrack.

Thank god I’ve got "Five Summer Stories".

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