Friday, June 28, 2019

All Summer Long

Here comes the summer! Are summers a distinct stretch of the year for you? What's this one got in store?

by Paul D. Marks

Every now and then we hear our song,
We've been having fun all summer long.
—All Summer Long by Brian Wilson & Mike Love
—Performed by the Beach Boys

When I was younger summer was more of a distinct time for me. We’d load up the Woody—okay so it wasn’t a classic Woody, but it was a station wagon with fake wood sides—and go on a Surfin’ Safari,  Surfin’ USA, from “…Del Mar, Ventura County line, Santa Cruz and Trestle, Australia's Narrabeen, All over Manhattan, And down Doheny Way, inside, outside, USA,”* just to Catch a Wave. And I’ve got some great stories, especially about Doheny, but they’re probably for another time.

As California boys we’d be on the lookout for California Girls—“I wish they all could be California girls.”* And I met a Surfer Girl under The Warmth of the Sun at the beach one time and that turned into a three year or so relationship. Do You Wanna Dance, I asked her. And we did, Dance, Dance, Dance. But when I took her In My Room my parents walked in—the less said about that the better… I guess you could say we were Shut Down. Don’t Worry Baby, I told her, but that was the end of our Fun, Fun, Fun…at least for a time. I don’t know if there really were any Heroes and Villains then, but ultimately I grew up and then there were Good Vibrations.

We definitely had fun All Summer Long. But eventually, we went our separate ways and she told me to just Sail On, Sailor. Which I did.

But Wouldn’t It Be Nice if we could relive some of those youthful, exuberant and nostalgic times? I just wish I had more pix of them and could find the ones I do have—in a box somewhere.

But that was then and this is now:

Those carefree summers are gone with the wind. These days summer is more like Raymond Chandler’s Red Wind than the Beach Boys:

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Ana's that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.” —Red Wind by Raymond Chandler.

Speaking of carving knives and the like, as I’m writing this the Sunday before it’s due up, a news story broke about a place called Neptune’s Net. A beachy dive on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. A hang for bikers and surfers and others, if you dare. A place I love and have been to a lot. A place I took Amy when we met and since. And even a place I took my dad, who’s very opinionated about food, but who likes clam chowder and amazingly liked this place. So this story about a knifing there really bums me: 

I even wrote about it in my novel Vortex:

Jess and I sped north on PCH, hoping Bryan and Carlos would assume we were going to be heading north all the way. We ripped past Zuma, flying up the coast. Turned into Neptune’s Net, a seafood dive favored by bikers, surfers and tourists. I didn’t think we quite fit any of those categories. The Mustang was camouflaged in the parking lot among all the other cars. We watched Bryan’s red Camaro zip past Neptune’s. We waited two or three minutes, then pulled out of the lot, cutting across traffic, turning left on PCH. Heading south now and lucky no ChiPs were there to light us up. Hopefully Bryan and Carlos were still heading north, thinking they’d catch up to us sooner or later.

But back to the question:

Aside from the weather, of course, these days summer is largely the same for me as any other season, killing people, mystery, noir, the thrills and chills of writing. I wish there were more chills. It gets hot here. And since I work at home there’s not much difference in terms of my daily routines. I walk the dogs. I do some social media. Might do some stuff around the house. And, if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll even get some writing in.

And, depending on how hot it is, the AC goes on, though I’d always prefer fresh air. But if I had my druthers—if I could ever figure out what druthers are—I’d prefer ocean air.

We’ve done a bit of traveling lately so I don’t think there’s much travel on the sked, except for Amy’s family reunion. It’s been a rough year or so for her as she lost both her parents, so maybe we can recuperate a little this summer. I think we started doing that with our anniversary this month. Also, one of our dogs is getting older and that’s starting to concern us, so I think we want to spend as much time with her as possible.

The thing we do worry about here in summer is fire . We live in a “wilderness” area, at least we pay an extra tax for fire services because of that. And we’ve had to evacuate two or three times and came close another couple of times. Let me tell you, it’s no fun. Rounding up the dogs wasn’t a problem, but you try rounding up two cats while sirens are screaming up and down the canyon.

The flames licking the hill across the canyon road.

The funny thing is the one time we actually saw flames on the hill next to us we didn’t have to evacuate. But we did during the Station Fire, which was huge. It turned the whole sky orange.

Anyway, these days as a writer I like a certain amount of consistency. Maybe it's not for everyone but that’s how I roll. So I like my routine for the most part and try to get as much done as possible. Those days of surfing, sailing and diving are mostly in the past now. But it’s nice to revisit them sometimes.
How ’bout you? What’s your summer shaping up like? Or should I say, what’re you doing All Summer Long?

*Surfin’ USA by Brian Wilson and Chuck Berry
*California Girls by Brian Wilson and Mike Love


And now for the usual BSP:

My story Past is Prologue is out in the new July/August issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Available now at bookstores and newstands as well as online at: Hope you'll check it out.

Please join me on Facebook: and check out my website


Jacqueline Seewald said...

I agree that as we get older, summer doesn't present the same excitement. But living on the East coast, I enjoy the changing seasons. Congrats on the new short story pub. Lots of prestige!

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Jacqueline. And I envy you the changing of the seasons. Though this year we actually had a winter -- our type of winter -- and plenty of rain.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Well done, Paul. A blog post with a Beach Boys sound track. And we had one of those station wagons with the fake wood grain down the sides as well, before the days of the mural van or SUV.

Terry said...

Paul, what a great trip to Socal! You caught the mood, which I still gets whiffs of when I go to LA. Something about the PCH, and the Beach Boys, and Chandler, and the words "cocktail lounge." Evocative.

Susan C Shea said...

That soundtrack came alive - I loved it! My teen summers were mostly Cape Cod. No surfers, but preppy kids, fried clams, and the scents of warm pine needles and salty ocean...

M.M. Gornell said...

Thought provoking post Paul, on how summer (and for me personally) one of the markers for a changing life--like occupations, where we live, our furry friends... Thought about some things I hadn't thought about for years. Thanks!

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Dieter. Doing the Beach Boys thing was fun. I tried to get in as many of their recognizeable songs as I could. I wonder if our station wagons were siblings? My station wagon was a wreck, but it mostly got me/us where we wanted to go. At least it didn’t have a mural on the side ;-) .

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Terry. That pretty much covers SoCal, doesn’t it? Oh, and palm trees.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Susan. You may have been on the East Coast, but I bet you were listening to the Beach Boys :-) .

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Madeline. I’m glad you enjoyed it and that it gave you some food for thought.