‘Don’t worry about your wife, man.’

This ex-hippie guy I knew back in my Topanga Beach days* thirty years ago emails me out of the blue and writes:

Hey man, I’m sorry about the passing of your wife. I read about it on your blog, that’s how I got your email address. You write about her being in oblivion and never seeing her again. Well, we shared many a joint together, man, you and I, and I couldn’t let that go unaddressed. I’m here to tell you, don’t worry about your wife, man, your wife’s fine. She’s in a better place than you and me. Keep on tokin’ and you will be together again — that’s all I can say. — Bongo Baldecki.

So I write  back and say: YoBongo, I couldn’t believe hearing from you after all these years. Thanks for what you said about my wife, but let me cut right to the core from the get-go and tell ya that I’m not alive without her. Oh, I’m breathing and eating minimally and drinking copiously and sleeping fitfully and feeding the cat and driving down to the liquor store but I’m not alive without her. Whether she went to some sort of afterlife, an unknown sphere or dimension or became an as-yet undiscovered wave in the electromagnetic spectrum, or whatever — or none of the above — all I want to do is try and find her. If it doesn’t pan out, so be it. But I’m going to give it a shot — perfect word for the mission, don’t you think?

I didn’t hear back from him, but I think I know what he would say: It’s your call, dude. If you go ahead, say hello to Jerry Garcia for me, man.

*Topanga Beach days

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Angel loves and the devil hates…

Super 8 film and music by J. Murf, via Brass Tacks Press

Excerpted from ‘My Years in America’ by Vito Michelini

Topanga Beach, Calif. Oct. 31, 1983

Dear Guido,

Let me tell you about this place… visualize a busy, fast, five-lane highway… as you look south the Pacific Ocean is on your right… and out on the waves surfers in black wetsuits dip and swirl like blackbirds waiting to ride the Perfect 10… the beach itself, the sand is dirty brown and littered with beer cans, pop bottles, candy wrappers, condoms, thongs, broken glass, bikini tops, popsickle sticks, roach clips… you scale a scrubby incline infested with lizards and snakes to the highway… the Pacific Coast Highway… and you wait for a brief gap in the traffic and run across the five lanes to the other side… avoiding a dirt road that leads down to the Snake Pit, a hippie settlement of busted trailers and tarpaper shacks, home to drifters, drug addicts, artists, poets, thieves, psychos (Manson once stayed here), and a 14-year-old Lolita named Angel Love… and you end up in front of Georges Market, Hawg Heaven as it’s called…

George’s Market. Photo: Gil Kaufman

...the center of this universe… the rich and the poor congregate here… movie actors stop for booze and fast food on their way home to Malibu, 16 miles up the highway… the guy who played Luke Skywalker stops by in his Jeep, the blowjob recipient in Deep Throat pulls up in his yellow Rolls Royce… we are all one here… the beachbums, the rich and infamous, the scroungers, the lowlife, the slime from the Pit, the Angel Loves and the devil hates motherfuckers…

Topanga Beach

…you walk a few paces behind Georges Market and enter the world of the Topanga Beach Motel, a collection of red and white bungalows, the only reasonable weekly-rate motel in the area, and the sometime location for movie shoots, porn flicks mostly with names like Beach Bungalow Gangbang and Pussy Hangs Ten… and there I am, in one of the bungalows, with a window looking out onto the Pacific Coast Highway and Georges Market and the big blue beautiful Pacific and the blackbirds in wetsuits… America! I’ve never been happier. Please try and get on the next boat, amico.


Pacific Coast Highway, Topanga Beach. Photo: Nile Hight

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