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Wi-Fi Trippin, California Dreamin – Windows Down, Radio On

September 12th, 2011 · Tags:Arts · Cities

Even though the PingWi-Fi caravan has landed in Pennsylvania, I am still California dreaming. There was so little time and so much to say from the recent trip to Socal. But … just a few last thoughts.

Thoughts of yesterday … great thoughts.

On my first break from the Dirty Gig (the smoke cleanup in Ontario, Calif.) I hightailed it for the beach … not just any beach … my favorite … Laguna.

The drive from Ontario to Laguna Beach is quite scenic at dusk, especially 133, the Laguna Canyon Road. From the interstate, the sunset pastels outline the seemingly razor-sharp mountain ranges in a rugged, deserty purple … also accented by the hovering air pollution in a good way, as strange as that sounds.

I spent about five bucks on toll roads and enjoyed the show. Funny … I always turn up the tunes on a road trip, and take note of what interesting songs play … always interested in whether there is some connection between the music and the moment.

Well coolio. As I entered the city limits of Laguna Beach — just as an art festival was kicking off … paintings and hippies everywhere — I heard a song that has always made me think of California … perhaps even more now.

Do you remember the old song “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday?” (… But not as much as tomorrow?)” I bet you would recognize it. It is one of the happiest songs of the ’60s. I always loved it … but it gained additional importance to me in Los Angeles on another trip. At a friend’s wedding in Los Angeles, the band did a great cover of that song, and everyone in the wedding crowd was trying to remember who played the song. Most guessed Stevie Wonder.

Ha … music nerd boy had to speak up and inform them that it was a one-hit wonder band … some studio musicians who had recorded the song as Spiral Staircase.

No one believed me. Just as I was convincing them to wager about it, all talk of the song stopped. Someone noticed Sean Penn was in the restaurant gazebo overlooking the wedding party on the lawn, so everyone was looking and talking about that. Another buddy, in the know, who lived and worked in Hollywood told me “No one EVER sees Sean Penn!” among all the daily celebrity sightings. So … apparently it was a magical trip.

I digress …

Anyway, that song … that Spiral Staircase song (Google it!) was blasting from my car audio, as I drove, smiling wide from such a happy tune. California daydreamin … Here, allow me to Google:

Spiral Staircase

Laguna did not disappoint. Although I only found Wi-Fi at one sidewalk art gallery — a gallery with its own sidewalk coffee shop window built it, I didn’t care. I headed for the sand.

Cafe Wyland, Gallery

Cafe Wyland, Gallery

On Laguna Beach my thoughts flashed back 20 years to the first visit. The same rock formations were there, exactly as I remembered them. Every time I am in the area, I go there to watch the water crash on the rocks. (This time, California was experiences some of the biggest waves in years — 20+ footers …)

On that first trip, i was so naive. I had partied on the beach in Texas and in Florida … so I thought I knew what was expected, if not required of a beachcomber… So, I had my cooler. It was full of ice, Tecate in a can, limes and salt. I was set. It didn’t bother me, even back then, that I was traveling alone. It did bother me … or rather it puzzled me, that I was drinking alone. No one, not another soul, was drinking. Finally, some young surfer and his little surfer girl came over to talk to me. They warned me that one cannot drink alcohol legally on the beach in California. They instructed me to hide it and quit being an “ugly Texan.” Just kidding … the girl actually was from Texas. But her boyfriend, Diego, was all Cali. No drinking on the beach … in California, where anything goes. Still scratching my head on that one.



Furthermore, I noticed that Diego and the Texan repeatedly disappeared behind the rock formations and soon after I noticed the distinct smell of a d grassfire. Good thing they weren’t drinking, they might have gotten a ticket.

Anywho … so after hanging out with the surfers, totally Tecate-free, I drove to LA. After a few calls, I located an old college friend in LA. We wanted to get together, but he had a conflict. So, he asked me to come along, apologetically. The conflict, I learned was a concert by a band neither one of us really cared much about — Jefferson Starship. My buddy, Will, had backstage passes. Even if I was not a huge fan, I wouldn’t turn away the chance to go backstage with such an interesting, history-making San Francisco band.

Will’s wife had worked for Paul Kantner and Grace Slick, when she first moved to the U.S. from the U.K., serving as nanny for their daughter, young China Kantner of MTV … now there is some rock lineage.

So … we caught the show … and made even more California memories with one of the seminal flower children bands in Orange County, the most conservative spot in all of California … Ha … Backstage Kantner pulled out something he had rolled, about the size of a small cigar, and smoked it — in it’s entirety — by himself. I kid you not. All of the band members talked to us a little, except, Grace Slick. She wouldn’t look at us or acknowledge our existence as she walked by within inches … really weird.



Thanks for sharing my memories from those first California trips. Memories that keep me coming back to Laguna … I can’t get enough … I am fortunate to have the Dirty Gig and all that goes with it.

Know what I saying?