Mexico Alcohol and Injury

Remembering my recently passed friend, who appears prominently in this tale. Love you, brother.

by Kevin Six

My friend Mark was getting married and, to celebrate, his
brother hosted a camp-out in Mexico. Curt, Keith – who was also getting married in the future — and I – who was never going to get married – decided to drive down together. We live in San Diego so it was an easy trip to the KOA Campground just south of Rosarita, which is 25 miles south of Tijuana. On the way down we smoked a joint or two and the trip took on the surreal tone that it stayed there for the rest of the trip.

It was a Saturday (and the 80s) so traffic was great, the border cross was easy and the trip south on the toll roads was scenic and picturesque. Except for the fire that was a long way off in the distance. We were all packed in Keith’s Nissan Truck, a blue pick-up that matched his girlfriend’s red one. I was in the middle. It is important for the story’s future that I tell you what I was wearing: jeans and a black leather motorcycle jacket over a white cable-knit sweater, over a white tank top. This outfit plays prominently in the story’s second act, one that we are deliberately, surrealistically and alcoholically,
getting to.

When we pulled up to the town of Rosarita we decided to buy some beer and a little tequila because we didn’t know if there would be any at the campground. So did everyone else traveling down for the bachelor party. There were 16 of us: Mark the groom, Keith, Curt and me, several friends of Mark’s from LA and a midget named Mike. Mike the Midget requires a whole story to himself but suffice it to say he was Mark’s roommate in college and was also the campus drug dealer. He partied harder than all of us and we all partied pretty hard in those days. It was the end of the 1980s and the world was about to change.

We drank approximately four cases of beer and three liters of Jose Cuervo tequila. This included our designated driver, Mark’s brother. No matter how you do the math, we were fucked up. The rest of the evening is sketchy – until The Event – so what follows is pieced together from memories of several of the people involved. The stuff that happened to me is all true as far as I can remember. I don’t know if I mentioned it but I was fucked up.

So, off we went to the town of Rosarita. There was dinner (can’t remember what we ate), drinks (vaguely remember that we all drank more beer and margaritas) and another bar with beautiful
Mexican Folklorico dancers. There will have to be another story about Folklorico dancers but suffice it to say that every Mexican girl of a certain age – and many boys too, for it is not considered un-masculine to dance in Mexico, dance Folklorico. On the way out of the bar, two of our number had to piss.

So they did, right on the street and, possibly, in front of some beautiful young Folklorico dancers. The cops pulled up right as I entered the second bar – a very cool place with a beach volleyball court inside – sand and all. I was just about to get some pretty young women to come with me (to where I don’t know; we were all in a passenger van and I was camping with 15 friends but alcohol will do that to you) when Mark told me we had to leave. For some reason, we all had to intervene on behalf of our two brethren who were being arrested for urinating in public.

Makes sense, right? You can’t do that in America either. But these two were at the belligerent stage. Mark’s brother, who spoke fluent Spanish, almost had them released into his custody when one or the other of them (I think it was Midget Mike’s new roommate) said something stupid and we were all off to the Rosarita jail to bail them out.

The jail looked like something out of a Clint Eastwood picture. We easily could have broken them out. And, with the equivalent of the alcohol output of a small city in us, we probably thought we could. But when the passenger van pulled up, we were met by the sight of the two errant pissers, loaded them up and went back to the bar with the indoor beach volleyball court.

I don’t remember much about the rest of the time there but there were drinks. We traded mere margaritas for shots of tequila and beer, beer, beer. Of course I’d re-acquired the pretty college students only ten or so minutes after our return. I can still remember them; one brunette, one blonde. I still can’t decide which one I preferred, even after all these years. I think I was working on getting them to take me to their hotel room, which I’d found out they were sharing, because my driver was drunk and I hadn’t seen the rest of my boys in at least an hour.

Just as I’d made my pitch – and I’m still sure they were considering it – Mark found me and literally dragged out of the bar. “The cops got Keith,” said mark.

“Where?” said I.

“On the way to the van,” said he.

There was come confusion as I thought they were leaving but Mark reminded me that I had ordered him to leave me at the bar so that I either went with the co-eds in glory or walked the several miles back to the KOA in shame. And we both think to this day that I had about a 60% chance of success. And off we went. This is where the story really starts.

At the Rosarita jail, we bailed Keith out and he was probably the most blitzed. Or Mark was; he was throwing up in a paper grocery bag in the front seat next to number three most-drunk, his brother, our designated driver. I was steaming in the back of the van with Curt who was telling me that it not only was a long shame-walk back to the KOA campground but that I was drunk when we left and wouldn’t know the way. And, he reasoned, I’d probably get picked up for being drunk in public just like Keith. It seems that was illegal there too.

When we rolled up to the campground, I was the first one out
of the van, which is odd because I was the in as far back as you can get. But I remember this, as always, and even think it might have happened this way, in slow motion. Mark tumbled out of the van, cart-wheeled, still seated, onto the ground and didn’t spill the contents of the plastic bag, still in his lap. I was the only one who saw this so I can’t corroborate the story but it happened, just as I’ve described. It was the most fantastic thing I’d seen that evening – so far.

The thing that happened happened while I was tying my hammock to two trees. I’d spied them earlier while we were drinking beer and throwing the bottles into the fire ring. Here’s what I did numerous times: tied up one end, tied up the other end, sat in the hammock, fell to the ground, repeat. On the fifth pass, Curt appeared, magically, as people do when you’re as drunk as we were, and told me that something was wrong.

It must have taken me more time than I thought to fail at hammock hanging five times – or was it more like twenty? – because, when I turned around, there was a roaring fire in the ring and Keith was holding his right arm. “He fell in the fire,” said Curt, we just put him out.” Then Keith said:

“I think I cut myself.” And, in an instant, I got the picture. Keith was too cold so he decided to sit IN the fire ring – the one we’d thrown 69 bottles of beer and four tequila bottles into – to get warm. Two tries got him burned, put out and cut. Badly.

I looked at his arm and Keith let go with his other hand and the blood spurted about two feet into the air. The sight – which I also remember in slow-motion – was beautiful. The blood, pumping gloriously from his artery, glistened golden with the fire behind it. Two pumps later and I had my jacket off, and my white cable-knit sweater and my tank top. The tank top went around the wound and, as luck would have it, I got the knot right the first time.

I tasted the adrenaline in my mouth.

As this was being done, the rest of the 16 were getting quiet and this exchange happened.

Kevin: Can you drive?

Curt: Yes.

Kevin: Keys.

Keith: Ow!

We were in the blue pick-up. Curt driving, Keith in the middle and me with his bloody arm in my lap in the passenger seat. We all probably could do a reasonably good impersonation of a sober person and we truly believed we were sober.

The trip from Rosarita was a blur of fiddling for change (and, later dollars), whizzing past toll booths and fierce determination to get Keith to the other side of the border at all costs. The plan broke down as we reached the border. Even at 3:30 a.m. there were two fairly long lines. All it took was Keith to wave his bloody arm out the window and the amazed travelers parted.

We got to the border guard and no further. He looked at the situation, made a determination and called an ambulance. It had taken us 35 minutes to get there. The ambulance would take 45 more to meet us at the border and Keith was bleeding badly.

But there were things to do. The guard gave me a white towel and told me how to hold it in Keith’s arm. I was given instructions to call Keith’s dad, a doctor, and explain the situation. I did this with some trepidation. Dr. Davis was extremely cool for a man who’d been awakened to hear that not only was his oldest son in Mexico but that he was rapidly loosing blood. He told me to get Keith to his hospital and there’d be a team waiting.

When the paramedics arrived, they did one thing which I thought was stupid: they took off the towel and the shirt, which was unrecognizable. And the blood flowed. One of them said, “Shit.” When we were ready to go (I still don’t know how we crossed the border), I got in the ambulance and Curt took the truck to meet us at the hospital. The paramedics wanted to take Keith to a less-than-reputable hospital in the South Bay but Keith would have none of it.

In his way, a way I’d heard before and since, and one that continues to baffle me, Keith – who was missing almost a third of his blood, was the color of dirty water and his voice slurred – gave an excellent and eloquent dissertation on how and why the paramedics should take him 30 miles further to the north.

And so they did.

Curt met us at the hospital and Keith went right into emergency. I, with his bloody wallet in hand, went through the arcane process of admitting him. Curt decided it was time to wake Keith’s girlfriend fourteen blocks away. He knocked and knocked on the door before he realized he had keys. He got her up and to the hospital as the surgery was being performed.

We later learned that Keith had severed one of the two main arteries in his left forearm, lost exactly a third of his blood and was only alive because he was so relaxed – or drunk — however you want to put it to pump the last of his blood out of his arm.

My cable knit sweater never survived. But Keith did and so did I and Curt too. Mark got married and divorced and so did Keith. And then so did I.

I don’t drink anymore.



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Would you hire this guy? Read this.

My name is Kevin Six and, before I took on the task of building my own brand, It was difficult to locate me online because of the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game. Since then, I have worked to build my name recognition. I used SEO techniques to outdo all that SIX degrees of KEVIN Bacon stuff.

When I was young, I thought my name was a liability. Thanks to the internet, the odd career of Kevin Bacon and a few people looking for a fun game, I was able to reinvent myself and learn a ton about the internet, blogging, video, podcasting, social media and making changes to your brand.

Don’t believe me? Simply search “Kevin Six” online and, if I do not appear in the top five search engine results, don’t hire me.

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Hello PNW


The wife and I are living in Blaine, Washington for the foreseeable future. While here, in the northwest corner of the US, I will continue to write and act in between hiking, biking, kayaking and sightseeing trips. My contact information remains the same, though I am taking a break from social media.

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Truth is currency. People earn my respect with it. I am able to understand most incidences of telling untruths, and can forgive most of them.

It is when people are in capable of telling the truth that I must, sometimes regrettably, cut them loose from my life. This is not to punish them. It is to protect myself.

I suggest you do the same: with family, friends, loved ones, and especially public figures.

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He Will Not Be Named

This is a rumination on mental illness, its fallout, and the presidency.

goldwaterAfter being sued in 1964 because their distanced diagnosis of Barry Goldwater cost him an election, and losing, the American Psychiatric Association adopted the “Goldwater Rule” in their code of ethics. They now consider it unethical to diagnose a public figure they have not personally examined. By doing this in ’64 they denied one certifiably mentally disabled person the presidency; and partially enabled another certifiably mentally disabled person to gain it by doing nothing in 2016.

File photo of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las VegasThis second person, whom I will no longer name for reasons stated below, would surely have sued the APA–and for much more than Goldwater’s $75,000.00. This person, like Goldwater before him, would not have consented to a psychiatric evaluation under any circumstances. It is, indeed, a symptom of his particular disorder that he is incapable of seeing the problem he has or any effects stemming from it.

mental-illnessThe millions of people who voted for this person may have had their own delusions but all of them have become enablers, many unwittingly, of the things his disease causes him to do. Speaking of enablers, this person has surrounded himself with loyalists, many of whom –some wittingly– have chosen to enable this behavior for personal safety or gain. Others (members of racist organizations and foreign governments for example) are taking advantage of this person’s mental illness for very nefarious purposes indeed.

amaBut enough of the fallout of the person and his condition for now. Let’s now move on to those silent enablers; the millions of medical professionals who had, in my opinion, reasons more pressing than the Goldwater Rule to declare the Republican candidate for President of the United States unfit for office. Unfit for the reason that he suffers from three easy-to-diagnose medical disorders which impair his ability to defend the Constitution and protect and serve the people of the United States of America.

Foremost of these is Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

firstI feel confident making this diagnosis as I am not bound by the rules of the APA, the AMA or any medical, psychiatric or ethical society. I am a private citizen who is not in any way qualified to give such a diagnosis. As an American, I am able to state my opinion without having my right to speak impinged upon by the government — of which this person may yet become the leader.

But I do have experience with mental illness. At least three members of my immediate family have been diagnosed with, and treated for, mental disorders; I have consulted therapists, psychiatrists and other medical professionals for years; and have been to, and studied the literature of, many programs dealing with the fallout of mental illness in my family of origin.

So, basically, pop psychologist who’s in therapy.

dark-triadBut why will I name the disorders (Vulnerable and/or Grandiose Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychosis– the Dark Triad) that this person suffers from but not name the person? Simple: the Narcissist needs constant reminders of his special status. And this I refuse to do because Narcissists feed on it and it’s damaging to them and others.

narcussusJust reading the Mayo Clinic’s description of NPD (above and here) it’s nearly impossible not to think of this person; he’s a classic case, even to the layperson. If only I took this person’s disorder (and chances of winning) more seriously, I would have done more to see that he was defeated. But it’s not too late to talk about dealing with this problem.

The Dark Triad. Cool band name but also a frighteningly simple way to diagnose dangerous Narcissists. Yes, we’re deep into Greek mythology and the Harry Potter fandom now but remember: Narcissus simply loved himself so much that he took root and became a reflection-seeking flower, while The Dark Lord had, and horribly abused, real power.

narcussusiiMy goal is to turn our own American He Who Will Not Be Named from a potential tyrannical maniac into a self-gazing little flower with your help. But first, you can make the diagnosis…

Ask, on behalf of that newly minted politician, these questions…

  1. I tend to manipulate others to get my way.
  2. I tend to lack remorse.
  3. I tend to want others to admire me.
  4. I tend to be unconcerned with the morality of my actions.
  5. I have used deceit or lied to get my way.
  6. I tend to be callous or insensitive.
  7. I have used flattery to get my way.
  8. I tend to seek prestige or status.
  9. I tend to be cynical.
  10. I tend to exploit others toward my own end.
  11. I tend to expect special favors from others.
  12. I want others to pay attention to me.

How to score this test. If you concluded that you’re not dealing with a Narcissistic, Machiavellian Psychopath, then you need professional help. Simply said, we’ve managed to elect one of these Dark Triads as the leader of the free world.

And we have to help him — and ourselves — before he damages too much of our country, democracy, freedoms…! To do so I am calling for these steps:

  • Understand and declare that our President Elect, due to his mental disorder, is unfit to discharge his duties.
  • Do not refer to him by his proper name.
  • Do not read, comment on, re-post or mention him on social media.
  • Demand that news outlets cover him professionally and critically as is their responsibility.
  • Better yet, call for a media blackout.
  • Call out his bad behavior and that of his enablers.
  • Familiarize yourself with the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution.
  • Demand that your representatives fully understand the 25th Amendment.
  • Ask your representatives to prepare for impeachment in the likely event that the President Elect, acting through his disease, perpetrates high crimes and misdemeanors.
  • Remember that this person suffers from a disabling (preexisting) condition and that most of his bad behavior is related to his condition

dark-triad-iiI once thought that we were dealing with an immature, uneducated, unqualified bad businessman who was simply annoying. But what we’re really dealing with is an annoying, immature, uneducated, unqualified bad businessman with a serious mental disorder that could very possibly cause real harm to our country and its citizens. There are ways to protect ourselves — and our country– from this danger but we cannot be tricked into falling for the Narcissists tricks, the Machiavellian’s power grabs, and the Psychotic’s utter disregard for human life.

You have been warned and armed. Now please demand that the Press, the People, and the Government, help protect us from this poor, disabled man and the disease, from which he suffers; the fallout of which threatens to destroy our way of life.

Thank you.


Wikipedia The Goldwater Rule
Mayo Clinic Narcissistic personality disorder
Psychology Today 8 Ways to Handle a Narcissist
Psychology Today Shedding Light on Psychology’s Dark Triad
Wikipedia Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Free Dictionary Articles of Impeachment

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Bill Simmons: The Better Half

K&B Juggling

Kevin (l) and Bill (r) juggling in No, No Nannette

Bill was the better half of the San Diego Junior Theatre duo known as Kevin and Bill. The duo always performed, often to great acclaim, but never officially. In fact, Kevin and Bill was not only not a professional comedy troupe, we weren’t even universally liked.

But before we get to the life-changing aspect of the story, let’s meet at the beginning. My mom got a call from Jimmy’s mom, who had already called Bill’s mom and they all agreed to carpool from our Clairemont (San Diego) homes to the Balboa Park confines of San Diego Junior Theatre. Jimmy Marshall and Bill Simmons were already carpooling and the addition of me was… well… life changing.

I know I promised ttdphat the life changing would come later but I now realize it was happening all the damned time there in the summer of 1977. It was my first play, my first carpool, the first friend I truly missed — deeply — when shows were over and Jr. Theatre sessions were out.

The carpooling was not long lived. Bill started driving soon after and then, when he graduated Jr. Theatre, I carpooled with my first best friend, John Fitzgerald, whom I cajoled into becoming my Jr. Theatre friend. (Talk about life changing: John married his Jr. Theatre sweetheart, Karen and I understand they have a whole bunch of kids now).

But, alas, I lost touch with John, as I did Bill, and so many others from that magical time in Balboa Park. When your parents could literally leave you there in the morning for summer classes and pick you up after rehearsal at 10:00 p.m. The first — and only — time I used “I’m depressed” as an excuse not to go to school on Monday was when it followed the closing of Babes in Arms; I’m pretty sure I freaked my mom out soundly that morning.

I mention depression because, as it turned out, that’s one of the less-than-fabulous things I had in common with Bill. Of course, I didn’t figure any of it out until 30 or more years after 12 Dancing Princess (my first play) and Good News (Bills last). In between times, there were many, many fun times and great memories, including:


And Disneyland with JT friends

Driving around in Bill’s 1970 Dodge Challenger pretending to be Starsky and Hutch; snapping our fingers furiously; replaying funny moments over and over and over again; the “Belly Buck” (ask for a demonstration); Dressing up two dress dummies Rosey and Leroy; multiple make out sessions; and coming this close to getting kicked out of Junior Theatre — the place without which I would not be alive today.

There I said it. It took many years to come to the conclusion that Jr. Theatre was a shelter for me in the past — and an excellent one at that. I put off depression — and denied who I was — by getting deep into characters and hanging out on- and back-stage (as well as at several cast parties). Little did I know — until many years later — that Bill was doing much the same thing.

Bill in the dressing room

We spent so much time — and had so much fun — in the dressing room at Jr. Theatre

Only he was so good at it that people all over were floored when they found out that he took his own life in late May, 2016. He’s gone and I survived — and he was the better part of our duo. I have disappointed many people many times throughout my life but the recipient of the worst two was Bill Simmons. One was utter losing my temper (at a party I was hosting) and the other was scratching the upholstery on that bitchen ’70 Challenger while diving through the window while pretending to be Hutch.

I still feel his disappointment to this day. It was honest; it was real; I could not escape from it — though he later forgave me for both of those and a bunch of other things I did later in life. It was then that I discovered that we had much more in common than loving Junior Theatre.

We both used it as a ledge on which to hide from, and hang onto, life — for dear life. We shared at least three girlfriends, a love of old movies, a propensity to be funny when in pain. And a history of abuse.

JessyBillKevWe both used substances to numb the pain of our childhoods when Junior Theatre was no longer available; we both had trouble keeping relationships; and, I now know, we had trouble keeping both feet planted on that ledge. When I heard of Bill’s passing, I was devastated. All at once for not being there for him; for driving him away and allowing myself to be driven away too; for not returning his last call; for all the time we squandered trying to be happy for — and strong for — and funny for — others.

Thankfully, for me at least, I have benefited from some work I’ve done on myself. I don’t drink anymore; I don’t feel disappointment like I used to; I can understand how guilt works (and that it is utterly useless); I know when I need to step away instead of head butt my way into a fight; that I am truly and fully programmed for fighting instead of coping; that I know there are probably 100+ people from my Jr. Theatre days I can rely on and — believe it or not — I do.

So thank you, Jr. Theatre friends, survivors. Please also join me in thanking Bill for being just a really kind, funny, and great person and friend. And, personally, teaching me so much about being a man when we were becoming men in the late 70s and early 80s. I love you Bill and always will!


Bill as Beef in Good News

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Would you rent to us?

We’re looking for an apartment in San Diego and, because everyone else in San Diego is also looking, we thought we needed to set ourselves apart. Who are we? Glad you asked…

IMG_2569-0Kevin Six (l) and Jennie Olson Six (r)

Here we are in our condo where we’ve lived for the last five years. As it sold faster than we thought, we need to move soon! We met, as most playwrights do, while performing in a friend’s play.

Then Kevin starred in Jennie’s play, Jennie starred in Kevin’s, and the rest as they say is history. Oh, and — we are playwrights who have real jobs! Jennie works for UCSD and Kevin works for the Living Coast Discovery Center.

In the playwrighting business, you can write at night! Speaking of night — we’re quiet! When not working and writing, Kevin enjoys water sports and Jennie loves yoga.

IMG_3096Popcorn Nell Six

Popcorn was found by the Nell family and named Popcorn because of his purr. Don’t worry, it’s not that loud. Popcorn came to the Olson-Six family because his grandmom was sick. He was scared at first, hiding in what we call the Cat Condo but was really a kitchen cupboard, for a day. Now, he’s a fully integrated member of the family, an indoor cat who likes string, his scratching post, and sleeping on any surface but mainly under the bed. He’s loving, quiet, and friendly — once you’ve gained his trust.

Speaking of trust, get a load of our credit score (available on request)! Also, call our employers and see that we are valued long-time employees. We are also good people, excellent neighbors and even better cooks.

If you are looking for three of the best renters in the history of renting, look no further than Kevin Six, Jennie Olson Six and Popcorn Nell Six!

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Repulsing the Monkey Cast

Repulsing the Monkey director Kevin Six tells us why he uses certain actors — a lot.

Kevin Six and Jewell Karinen in Coffee Shop ChroniclesI don’t think you’ll ever hear a director or a producer tell you they had trouble casting a show before it opens. But every director of every production has trouble casting. This is because, as many directors have stated; directing a production is made considerably easier with a good cast.

You hear all the great stories after the show closes and the director and producer look brilliant for having cast a certain actor. But, trust me; they struggled with every casting decision. Any director or producer is going to go a little mad until the cast is just right.

Steve Smith and Laura Bohlin in Simply Sci-Fi.

Steve Smith and Laura Bohlin in Simply Sci-Fi.

This is why I have come up with a go-to list.  It’s not in writing, there is no actual list, but when I read a play, certain faces and voices take over. When I look to cast, I remember those voices and the good times I’ve had on stage or giving direction.

With Repulsing the Monkey, we got exactly everyone we wanted for the staged reading. The cast of the full production is not that cast. But — and this is why I think Theatre is my actual religion — miracles happened in casting and we got people who are good at what they do, bring tons of experience and talent, and are fun to work with.

Joshua Jones as LawrenceTo me, the most important part is the fun. At a certain level, everyone has talent. When it comes right down to it, I am going to cast the person I know well over the person I don’t. This is because I know what their habits are, how they approach a part, and how fun it is to work with them.

Do I get casts full of these familiar faces? No. I’ve worked with everyone in the cast but some only once. The thing is, if you get a critical mass of good, fun people, your show is going to be better. Better than any show where people had to “make it through” to performance.

For the non theatrical reader, opening night is the time when the director and actors part ways. No more direction, no more notes, no more anything. The director has just got to hope that he/she imparted enough of his/her vision on the cast and that the momentum generated carries the show forward. The Repulsing the Monkey cast is a momentum machine!

Kevin Six and Tyler C. Jiles

Kevin Six and Tyler C. Jiles

I have been lucky enough to cast people I trust in every role; people I have worked with in every role; people you will like (or hate depending on the demands of the part) in every role. I resisted the urge to audition people — especially because we loved the cast so well after the reading that we offered them first right of refusal.

But who are they? Oh, yes. The cast of Repulsing the Monkey:

Danny the native Pittsburgher — Steve Smith

Janey his sister — Laura Bohlin

Dylan the native Californian — Joshua Jones

Kylie, native Californian Yoga instructor — Maelyn Gandola

Ethan the native New Yorker — Tyler C. Jiles

Sophia the uptight native New Yorker — Jewell Karinen

Repulsing the Monkey, by Michael Eichler, will be performed at the Kensington Club at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays from August 25-September 3, 2015. For tickets visit

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Elegy For…

I mourn my hair today. I lost it long ago. But for some reason, its loss pains me more today.

Its length, its darkness, its abundance, lost, along with the ability to wear cool clothes and say cool things.

Abundant now are: aches and doubts, and gurgling, squeaky little reminders that food must be chosen wisely; joints (not the cool ones) clamoring for lubrication, and faded, slightly tattered hopes, dreams and dignity.

Some things lost but not mourned: idiocy, sleep, arrogance, dependence. Loving improperly. Unwise choices, enough to fill a container store.

Full of the gas that was once my feeling of invincibility.

And memories. No one told me the sweet new ones would slip away before I could even describe their taste. Nor that the old ones, bitter and sweet both, could be summoned and replayed in perfect quality.

Wrong as they are, wrong as I made them. Had to make them to live with my arrogant younger self.

The asshole with such perfect hair.

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That time I went to New York to surf

Here’s a Throwback Thursday article on surfing in New York. I don’t have photos because I was not affiliated with the illustrious Kymri Wilt then. But it’s a good read nonetheless…

Here, now, is New York Surf by Kevin Six…

When planning a trip to New York, I can now add a wetsuit to my list of things to pack. I’ve got friends who are always asking me to visit but I won’t take any trip that isn’t a surf trip. After spying several people with long boards in the subway, and hours of research on the internet, my friends found out that New York could easily be a surf destination, so I planned my first-ever surf trip to New York.

I flew into Newark, New Jersey on the redeye arriving at 6:00 a.m. June 2, having departed at 8:00 p.m. from San Diego on the first. I took the Olympic trails bus to Pennsylvania Station, though I could just as easily have taken, I later learned, the New AirTrain. Then it was the number Two subway two stops downtown from Penn Station to 14th street, where my friends had agreed to keep me – and help surf New York.

I first tried looking for surf on Staten Island, a free ferry ride and a bus to Great Kills. Though there were no waves, there were many informative and friendly lifeguards. They said that New Jersey blocked all but the biggest swell and that J Hook usually had pretty decent waves. They also said that J Hook wasn’t going off on June third.

On June fourth, I took the C train from Manhattan to Broad Channel in Queens and boarded the S shuttle to Rockaway Beach, about an hour train ride if you make all your connections. Legend has it that hip Manhattan surfers haul their eight foot planks on these trains to the Rockaways and are in the lineup by 7:00 a.m. At 8:30 a.m., there was no one in the water and only about six inches of swell. It’s a good thing too, because, had there been waves I could not have surfed – no board.

It turns out that the laws in New York City and insurance requirements make renting boards cost prohibitive. I learned this from the clerk at the Rockaway Beach Surf Shop, the only surf shop in Rockaway Beach and one of two in New York City, just a short walk from the subway. They did carry about 150 boards, both short and long. It turns out that these boards are manufactured in China under the shop’s logo as well as the legendary “Plastic Fantastic” logo from the 70’s.

Two days later, and after much more research, I headed for Long Island. It was rumored on a website that there was a point break that could handle 15-foot faces (this would be about seven-foot waves in Hawaii, where waves are measured from the back, or what we in California call “Double Overhead”). The author told of an epic surf session in January with waves as big and perfect “as Second Reef at Pipeline” on the North Shore of Oahu. Though I didn’t believe that any wave in New York could be that big, nor that anyone would be crazy to surf in water that cold, I had to see for myself.

I boarded the 7:49 a.m. Long Island Rail Road train to Montauk and, three hours and change later, I was at the Northeastern tip of New York State. The cabs that I saw, and there were many, all were driven by young women. Veronica, my cabbie for the afternoon, was patient with me – much crazed after two days of flat surf and a long, early morning train ride. She took me to Air and Speed Surf Shop in the edge of the small village center in Montauk. She was also kind enough to radio the cab base for a surf check. Another cabbie, who’d driven by the beach reported “stormy and choppy,” but I had come too far to stop now.

I rented a 9-foot single-fin Donald Takayama Noserider. Made in Oceanside California, that board had come farther than I had on its trip to the surf capitol of New York. Veronica, a surfer by her own admission, waited while I rented the board and a wetsuit and drove me out to Ditch Plains beach two miles away. She told me that I had just missed by two days excellent waves and warm water, something that surfers everywhere will say to visitors.

She also said that the walk along the shore to The Ditch was considerably shorter but I didn’t want to drag a 30-pound, nine-foot plank for a mile on any beach if I could avoid it – though I’d gladly have carried my trusty 6’2” that far. I was getting excited. After 3,000 miles in the air and hours on various trains, and after being shut out on two previous trips, I knew that my luck was about to change and my travels were to be rewarded. I also knew that intrepid surf journalists often find less to surf in, and more to complain about, on warm-water boat trips than “stormy and choppy.”

Who knows, to these Long Island surfers that could very well mean fun or at least rideable. And the waves at The Ditch at the far end of Long Island were both. The Crescent shaped beach, with a jetty to the North and town to the South, was formidable. The Ditch Which, the woman who ran the snack trailer, said that most surfers went out near the jetty, but it seemed that the waves, which were breaking all over the place, were a little bit more defined just in front of the trailer. The water temperature, which had been just cold of pleasant two days ago, had dropped to an estimated 57 degrees and I felt every bit of it in my over large rented wetsuit. But I was paddling out into a break that less than 40 Long Islanders surf regularly and I was stoked. Anyone can fly to Hawaii or California or even Florida for an American surf trip, but I was in New York, one of few surfers crazy enough to make the California to New York journey.

I was told that the waves were choppy because of a low-pressure system that moves north to South creating onshore winds (which we had that day) as well as offshore winds that smooth out the waves and make for nice long lefts. Though I’m goofy-footed (a surfer who plants his left foot back and prefers to surf right to left when facing the beach), I didn’t have time to wait out the weather. I had to be back in Manhattan that night to take in a Broadway show. I lined up my take-offs just to the right of the Ditch Which’s trailer and hoped for the best.

I caught a number of waves, breaking in a number of directions, while the current pushed me from West to East and back. There seemed to be a wave breaking deeper, in what I was later to learn was the rocky bottom, which reformed on the sandy beach. My first wave broke on the outside and was bigger than I thought it would ever be in New York. About three to four feet with a shoulder-high face. I wiped out before I could catch the reform. My second wave was a shallow, sandy wipe-out. My third wave was the wave of the day.

After taking off too late on two other good-sized rollers, I grabbed a left (stage left if the beach is the audience) just in time. I popped a wheelie, getting eight feet and eight inches of the rented nine-foot Takayama up in the air and, digging the single fin into the face, shot down, bottom-turned and nose-rode the reform before digging the fin into the sand at the end of the ride. Had there been anyone else in the water, I’m sure there would have been enough hooting and arm pumping to match my own.

The transition from outside face to re-form beach break was tricky and I only managed it two more times. I also managed to catch more than a few shore breakers and to miss two outside rights that could very well have left me stranded on the rocks of the jetty. After about an hour, the wind got the better of the waves and my personal store of body heat so I paddled in.

I had had the break to myself, something unheard of in San Diego. While drying off and working the shivers out, I talked to a number of surf-stoked Montaukians who were all eager to share their waves and information. Every car I saw parked at The Ditch was an SUV, a Mercedes or a BMW. I guess you need a little green to surf Long Island on a Thursday morning but these gentlemen surfers, to a one, were welcoming, friendly and informative – proud of their piece of paradise.

I spoke with one guy (with a single-fin long board strapped to his 450 SL) who told me that it would take warmer water to get him in on a day like today. In the two hours I was there, only two others went out. Another gent, who had just returned from eight years in Florida, which he hated, said that Montauk was the most beautiful beach on the East Coast. With dirt roads leading to clean beaches, sand dunes covered by pink-flowered shrubs and no building over two stories, I had to agree.

He also told me that when the swell is really on – during winter storms and summer hurricanes – waves break from outside the jetty for 800 or more yards to “that house over there.” I asked about the rumors of 15-foot faces and he said he’d seen them. He also said that, in big surf and the right conditions, the swell wraps around the point of Long Island and breaks on the other side. If the waves at The Ditch are too big and blown out, they are perfect on the other side. This is what I think will bring me back to the Hamptons – in September for warmer water and likelier storm conditions. That and the great people.

Two other surfers offered to take me looking for surf near the light house but it was time to meet Veronica the cabbie. She took me back to Air and Speed to return my equipment. You can’t miss the surf shop; it’s next to the only bank, just off the main drag and a short walk from Town Beach. She also recommended a place for lunch. I had a decent fried flounder burger at Gosman’s Dock, or Goo Dock, which seemed to be the hang-out for fishermen, summer residents and year-rounders. After a 20-minute walk back to the train station, I was on the 2:20 p.m. train to Manhattan.

On the train back to the City, I contemplated the show I’d see that night and surfing my home break, Scripps Beach in La Jolla, California in three days. But the memory of my day in Montauk will stay with me for a long time. The long trip, the shut-outs and the cold water were erased by decent surf, the quaint town and the great, cold water stoke of the surfers at The Ditch.

Kevin Six is a native of San Diego and an avid surfer. He is an arts administrator who, on vacations, never likes to be more than a day’s ride from the beach. He has surfed throughout California and Hawaii and his goal is to surf waves that break in American waters, including the East Coast and the Great Lakes.

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