Girlie Action goes back to the beach
By Margaret Moser,
2:17PM, Mon. Aug. 18, 2008
“It’s automatic when we talk with old friends,
And conversation turns to girls we knew when,
Their hair was long and soft,
And the beach was the place to go”
– The Beach Boys, “Do It Again”
Inspired by a recent viewing of Somewhere in Time, I’m clutching a nearly disintegrated tab of acid to use in transporting myself back in time on Wednesday night. That was my musical epiphany as a teen, the life-altering Blind Faith-Delaney & Bonnie show in at the Convention Center Arena within San Antonio’s Hemisfair grounds, August 20, 1969. The World’s Fair was only a year in the past but it seemed like a lifetime then. Now, it seems like an eternity.
My inner SF geek loves time travel and the possibility of alternate universes. Because many of my musical memories are welded together with unusual sights, sounds, and smells, they’re triggered sometimes by benign things. The sight of an old 8-track tape, for example, is a forbidden cruise down the beach at midnight with a boy named Eddie, whom I’d met the week after that Blind Faith show. I was walking down the beach and he drove up alongside me, smiled, said he played guitar in a band, and asked if I wanted to ride with him. I jumped in the car.
Eddie had Blind Faith and Best of Cream on 8-track, which was beyond cool on that sea-salty August night. We rolled down the windows on his Mustang (yes!), cranked the volume, and drove around for what seemed like hours. We smoked joints, split the one lukewarm beer he had, and predictably ended up in a lip-lock, which is why I remember that midway through “Badge,” it jumped tracks in that way peculiar to 8-tracks as he talked me into the back seat. My dad was livid when I showed up well after midnight. That was the first night of the seven-day vacation at the beach. I never saw Eddie again and had yet to meet the cabin two rows over full of college boys from Lamar Tech with Bo Diddley LPs.
I’d come to Mustang Island that summer with just my dad and brothers, a post-divorce version of the old family vacation that once meant going to my grandmother’s in Port Arthur, then spending time at Crystal Beach, where my aunt and uncle had a cabin. That was it, every summer. The timing late that August was forced by the fit I pitched when the original plans conflicted with the Blind Faith show. For the first time in my young life, I’d stood my ground, announcing I simply would not go, and if forced I would run away. Again.
Crystal Beach was where I’d first heard “Pipeline,” “Apache,” and “Wipeout” streaming out of the Woodies with surfboards strapped on them, circling the beach, then “Scratch My Back” and “Ruler of My Heart” pouring from a tinny transistor radio by a late-night bonfire with the waves crashing. By 1969, those songs were already oldies, compared to hip new blues-rock like Blind Faith. You couldn’t get it on the radio.
Maybe I should clutch a 9-volt battery and try to time-travel back to the beach.