The fog today has brushed the mountains with a thick white mist almost like a snow mass; yet the temperature is warm. What I found most entertaining in a writers way, was the night Chantel and I visited NOBU; “No One Beats Us.”

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF UNTAMED, UNDRESSED WILDERNESS are the unhurried pocket full of cash residents, or resident visitors, that line up in waxed sports cars and convertibles at the entrance of NOBU. I wonder if they have summer and winter cars as I watch them slouching on the terrace sofas: women in latex tight jeans, bottoms-up mini skirts, and men in tight V-Neck T’s and designer jeans.

“ Oh Chantel this is going to be so fun.”
“ You think so?”

We sat down on the terrace sofas and ordered drinks. As a thirty-year old
this sort of stylish trendy expensive dining was all I cared about and I can’t tell you why because I never got inside the groups that I followed. Thirty years later my sense of belonging is unimportant; it is the observation deck of a group that is
capable of supreme prating, joking, excessive drinking and charismatic behavior.


I spotted two men dressed in musicians gear, top hats, and dancing lace up boots swaying towards us.
“ Hello girls, do you mind if we join you.” I didn’t look at Chantel until they swayed a bit more indiscreetly, and realized they were hammered.
“You guys rock n roll musicians.” I asked
“What? How’d you know?”
“The British accent, two bottles of beer in one hand and the hat.
They bent over at the waist in laughter and collapsed on a sofa across from us.
Thirties, with squinted red eyes, and big smiles; they laughed at everything I said.
“ I like that you call us girls; but we really are. Aren’t we Chantel?”.
She smiled and when they asked her what kind of music she liked she said
‘ All kinds.”
What about you?” The less than stupid drunk one asked me.
“ Mick Jagger.”
He spread his arms out wide and then slapped the table.
“The guy is unbelievable. No truly the best man today, still. I can’t believe the guy.”
Common ground in music stroked our conversation, until the stupid drunk one
tipped over one of his beers, while trying to stand. They drifted off to their crowd and I remained fixated to the garden of youth circulating the terrace.

The indoors were crammed with shiny female legs, and beautiful male arms. There was no identification of loners or singles; just one large crowd hip to hip. No one place I’ve been to can beat the sizzling sexuality, liberation of theatrics, and prices. Two pieces of tuna are $8.00 and Sashimi is $25.00.
I left my phone that night  and when I returned the next day at noon there were twenty people waiting to get in. Thinly disguised in hat, ankle length bathing suit wrap, and glasses, I did not look like I belonged and I liked that feeling. It was a star-spangled banner sort of celebration that I really don’t mind being on the outskirts. I am staying in Malibu; but I am not a Malibu moneyed account.

The next evening outing I stopped at Geoffrey’s Restaurant; in my southwest dirty 2002 Discovery. The valet was directing traffic as if he was a pilot commanding a landing of private jets.
“ You are very good with those signals.”
He nodded. No time to talk. images

I tried to walk in without looking at the floor; as if I’d been there before.
The bar was half full; and the dining room tables were all taken.  The backdrop was cinematic; a glorious china-blue sea, with seagulls and surfers marked through floor to ceiling spotless glass. There was so much reflection and light;  the groomed and jeweled diners looked like actors on a movie set. That makes me a little uncomfortable; to be so transparent. I noticed a spot on my shoe, a tiny one that turned brownish the more I stared.

The bartendress breezed over,’ Hi. May I start you with some sparkling water’ one I’d never heard of.
“ A wine list please and the appetizer menu.” She gleamed at that.

My journal was my partner; so I scribbled away casually and felt inducted into Geoffrey’s.   I ordered the crab cakes appetizer,  wafer size but so delicious I would order them again.  As soon as the gloaming hour arrived it was time to leave. I had not mastered the swerving mountain roads  to Chantel’s in the dark.

” Check please.”  I said.

What a sensational feeling to sign the slip and know there is more than enough in my bank account.

” Your card didn’t go through.”

” Try it again please. There should be no problem.”

” Sorry. The card is — not accepted.”

Not enough cash to pay a thirty-five dollar bill was more than humiliating;  so I pulled an Allen Smiley.

” I’ve never heard of such a thing. Wells Fargo will hear about this!” I called Wells Fargo and followed all the instructions and then waited. By this time the owner, thirties and as pretty as the Blue Boy, appeared.

I signaled him to wait a moment just as Wells Fargo disconnected me.

Then I pitched up my voice melodramatically  to the owner and talked up my frustration. As I am explaining that I am visiting and that all my ready cash was spent in one day in Malibu and I was so sorry;  I went swimming in his almost Paul Newman eyes.

” It’s no problem. It’s okay.  I”ll run the hand written receipt tomorrow.” He said with suave charming lips and teeth.

Then he left. I turned to the Bartendress and asked if this ever happens at Geoffrey’s. She smiled and said, ‘ No, but it used to happen in a bar I worked at.’

I left in a roundabout reminder  that I should stop galloping around without cash; especially on a vacation.

The next day I walked into Wells Fargo at Trancas Canyon.  Three employees welcomed me: coffee, water, how can we help, all in sync.   After I explained the story to  a college age man behind a walnut desk, he  called someone at Wells Fargo and then I learned the trick to traveling.

” If you go out of state you need to let us know so we won’t block your account.”

” For thirty-five dollars? Don’t tell me you do that when Cher leaves town.”  She didn’t laugh.

” The block is removed. Is there anything else we can do?’

” I hope not.”

The suntanned jolly man at the desk began a conversation:  where do you live, how long you’re in Malibu, have you been to Trancas Beach and then he asked why I didn’t have a savings account.  I leaned in real close and whispered, I don’t have that much money.

‘” I see we just sent you a platinum credit card.”

” I never received a platinum credit card.” He leaned back in his leather executive chair that really didn’t suit  him at all and said,  ” You probably thought it was an advertisement and threw it away.”

” Do you know what the limit is?” I asked.

He tapped on his computer and I watched in anticipation.

” Three thousand dollars.”

” Really?”

” Yes. Now let’s talk about you opening up a savings account. You have to have one.'”

I wanted to stand up and hug him. Instead I asked him if he surfed.

” Yea, but I’m not that good really.”

”  It doesn’t always matter that you’re good; some things  are just about doing it.”

To be continued.


Soaring Crow and Gavin

Smiley’s Dice
The Surfer and Bill.

It begins in San Francisco, in the late fifties, in the section of San Francisco known as outer mission. A pencil thin surfer wandered the streets visiting surfer pals; like Tambi, Minor Lo, and Da Fly.
One day his friend George suggested they go to Hawaii, and being of surfer consciousness, they left that afternoon. During this trip, the surfer went out seeking work, and discovered he didn’t have much to offer. The epiphany broadened into an apprenticeship as a carpenter on the mainland. After a few months of instruction, he was ready for the Contractors State Board exam. He passed the test, and returned to San Francisco to pick up the license.
About this time, he met Bill, a man who owned a home in Sea Cliff. Bill was often seen puttering about his house, attempting to fix things that he didn’t know how to fix. Bill and the surfer became friends. Bill was happy to hear that the young man was carving another wave in his life. Bill was a sort of western style renaissance man, who chose people because of character, leaving behind details like, age, occupation, and all the other things that divide us.
He invited the surfer into his home and asked him if he could make some alterations to the fireplace. The surfer complied and began his first job in the trade of carpentry. Bill and his family liked the surfer, and it was a mutual friendship. After the fireplace was finished, the surfer began another job and another and soon, if you wanted to find the surfer, you had to ask Bill.
The surfer lingered around San Francisco, and the years ripened the friendship between the surfer and Bill, his wife Martha, his three sons, Carl, Gavin, and Walter, and his daughter Wendy. Now the surfer was of the age that falls between peer and pupil, and all of his friends belonged to the surfing colony. Bill once told me that the surfer told the most astonishing stories, and that he was loved like a part of the family.
One day, the surfer decided to leave San Francisco, and follow his girlfriend to Santa Barbara, where she was studying at the University. This didn’t work out the way the surfer thought it would, and so he returned to San Francisco. He went back to the old neighborhood where Bill lived. It happened that Bill decided to move to San Diego, and so the surfer was waving goodbye. A few more years pass while the surfer hung around his surfer friends down at Kelly’s Cove, and watched the city of San Francisco from the lap of the pacific. When he needed money, he worked for Tambi, carrying his ladder, or stirring cement, and then returned to the stillness of floating with the ocean.
One day the surfer received a phone call from Bill, asking for the surfers help. Bill bought a home and business in La Jolla and both needed renovating. The surfer knew the area as he had surfed the Pacific from San Francisco to Ensenada. Bill asked the surfer if he would move down to La Jolla for a while. Naturally, the surfer accepted this offer, and so Bill flew the surfer down to La Jolla. He paid his expenses and gave him a key to an ocean front hotel room at Capri By the Sea. The surfer hung over the terrace of his new post, watching the Board Walk and thought he was the luckiest man in the world. Bill introduced the surfer around La Jolla, and he began working and meeting Bill’s friends. The time fell into one long sunrise to sunset, of work, companionship, and surfing.
Now, we take a giant leap forward to the summer of 2007 and to Colorado Springs. It would be the first time that I would meet Gavin, one of Bill’s sons. It had been many years since the surfer, whom you may have guessed by now, is my best friend, who goes by the name of Soaring Crow, had seen Gavin. I had heard about him for so many years, from Bill and Martha, and from Soaring Crow. Gavin was the travel writer; he covered ski resorts, ranches and rodeos.
We drove up a tree-lined street and parked in front of an unpretentious Victorian house. A man galloped down the walkway, he was tall and broad, with an easy grin, and mercurial eyes. Gavin brought us into his home and placed our luggage in his bedroom.
“You guys sleep here, the sheets are clean.”
“Where will you sleep?” I asked.
“I’ll sleep outside, I do all the time.”
The welcome was expansive, as if I was about to go on a Ferris wheel, or ski lift. SC and Gavin had seen one another at a family wedding years ago, but this was the first get together. I adore these inevitable reunions tied to our past, and so I sat on the edge and mused their fellowship. We filed into the den, where Gavin picked up a pair of electric guitars and the two strummed away the years inside surf tunes. I poured wine, and took photographs. After dinner, the room was familiar and quiet. Gavin showed us a picture of Bill dressed in western gear next to a horse.”
“I never knew he was a cowboy?” I said.
“Well, he was. He grew up around horses.”
“And you’re a cowboy too?”
“Used to be a cowboy, not anymore. Once a cowboy stops riding, he stops being a cowboy.”
“You sound just like Bill.” I said.
“Everyone says that.”
We lingered around the table until late in the night, and stories rolled out from the heart. Gavin’s rooms had exploded with his story telling tools, piles of black and white photography were stacked on the ground, books, and records and sporting equipment. He raked through a stack and handed me a photograph of a rodeo rider.
“ I love that photograph, it’s wonderful.” I said.
“ Take it, take any of them you want.”
The next morning, we had breakfast at the Broadmore Hotel, surrounded by gardens and river walks. I exuded small bites of Gavin’s adventures, as a freelance journalist, columnist for the Rocky Mountain News, and traveling with the Rodeo. He was the sparkling image of Bill, authentic and understated.
After breakfast, we drove to the Valley of the Gods.
Gavin jumped out of the car and trotted ( he does not ever walk) to a spot overlooking the rugged insubordinate Valley.
“ This is where part of Bill rests, the other part is in the ocean, isn’t that neat.”
“ You can visit him all the time.”
“ Yep, I do.”