I accidentally left my diary on the internet. pic.twitter.com/GJNAuhKpFi
— Angela Marié Glass (@Ang) December 8, 2015
“Nobody knows I’m a real person — they think “Gidget” is Sandra Dee or Sally Field.”—Kathy Kohner Zuckerman
@Ori would remember the night I walked and told him of all the creepy sites on those dark streets which weave the beach along Windansea into Draper Villas…
< BEGIN CONTEXT / SHIFT TO PRESENT TONE >
Authentic Non-Fiction Life
[Richard] Powers is especially effective at illustrating the way the story of the girl with “the happiness gene” spreads across the Internet and, only slightly less rapidly, the traditional media. Thassa’s mailbox starts filling up: “Strange people with Hotmail accounts want me to make them happy. One woman wants to hire me as her personal trainer. She thinks her soul needs a professional workout.”
… This review was written by Jay McInerney (“How It Ended: New and Collected Stories”) and published in The New York Times Sunday Book Review, October 1, 2009. … when I first stumbled into this story the other day, I did a double take… it read like my life…
“Meanwhile, Kurton’s research team is on the verge of publishing a study that correlates specific genetic codes with emotional well-being. But despite the large sample on which the study is based, Kurton is holding back on publication, looking for some missing datum to confirm his findings. When Thassa’s story comes to his attention he thinks he may have found it. …”
I remember listening to a Nobel Prize contending researcher detail his observations of my hyperthymic temperament…
“Kurton persuades Thassa to undergo a series of tests, and when the results are finally published — the ebullient Thassa’s genetic material having confirmed the initial findings — media interest in the Happy Gene Girl goes manic, culminating with an appearance on a Chicago talk show whose host, known to all simply as Oona, “is, by any measure, the most influential woman in the world.” In a canny elision, Powers gives us only hints of Thassa’s triumphant performance, by way of its echoes on the Internet. … “
My effervescent happiness, despite the most contrary of circumstances, led me to be taken and tested, poked and prodded, and accused many more times of being “on something”.
“At times, one can’t help wondering if Powers’s sympathies, and his sensibilities, lie entirely in the scientific camp — if he doesn’t perhaps agree with Thomas Kurton’s critique of fiction, rejecting “the whole grandiose idea that life’s meaning plays out in individual negotiations.” But Powers is, when he chooses to be, an engaging storyteller (though he would probably wince at the word), and even as he questions the conventions of narrative and character, “Generosity” gains in momentum and suspense. In the end, he wants to have it both ways, and he comes very close to succeeding.”
I haven’t read Generosity yet. I have an iPad, I know how Kindle works, but I’m waiting for the book to arrive from Amazon.
< Cycle Backwards again a lá Momento or Mulholland Drive >
It started in sixth grade. Tanya read my journal—I wasn’t yet cool enough to have discovered Moleskines—sitting at our desk at the back of the class.
She told me I should write a book.
Obviously Power’s published his book before my life followed his novel’s course.
I left Yahoo, and moved to San Diego.
I had moved to San Diego to escape the shallow life I had led in San Francisco full of fabulous friends I didn’t really know, moving in a fluid routine from-work-to-bar-to-show. Now I had no social life and lived in the middle of my own personal version of hell the locals called “The Golden Triangle”.
After spending the weekend with my friend’s Tara and Sean at their place on the oceanfront in Los Angeles, I corrected my mistake. I moved from private consulting into being a full-fledged corporation, and I moved from my temporary abode huddled away for the winter in Brooklyn, back to San Diego—to the ocean front of Windansea Beach, La Jolla.
< END CONTEXT / RETURN TO MUSING >
I’d sworn I saw a shadow of something hanging as if a body hung from a noose against the back of a street sign… and that’s just the kind of thing you might actually see.
My friends thought I’d gone off the deep end, and I thought you’d think writers and tech and Hollywood types would be a little more understanding. Or at least those in the biz? 😉
While I was in love with the break on this beach, coming to watch the waves many times before moving there, I had had no idea that surfing had come from Hawaii to just two beaches—my Windansea, and Malibu.
In the late ’50s and into the early ’60s, surfing’s popularity exploded in California (and around the world) due to two well-known factors: the development of the lightweight polyurethane foam and fiberglass surfboard, and the publication of a best selling book, later to be made into a big-time Hollywood movie, named “Gidget.”
Those who had grown up in the sport prior to 1957 were dismayed by the increasing hordes of new surfers unleashed by this cultural phenomenon, as crowds were growing exponentially as the years passed.
The locals at WindanSea reacted to this overcrowding with a bit of an iron-fisted attitude of protectionism and territorialism. Ask Bill Andrews someday what it was like to come over to surf WindanSea from the Shores in the early ’60s, if you want to be entertained for a few hours by some good stories.
Suddenly feeling a little self conscious, I reasoned that there’s no way anyone would ever find out what my online pseudonym was, thus, there’s absolutely no reason at all I should feel uncomfortable about being a “spunky Gidget” who can’t surf moving in on their turf, er, beach. I took comfort in two minuscule comforting facts: (1) I didn’t give myself the nickname. (2) I can point to the domain registration to prove I wasn’t a new poser.
“Tubesteak recalled that during the 1940s and 1950s, surfers did everything possible to stay out of the draft. However, their resistance was not for ideological reasons, “they just wanted to go surfing.”
In the summer of 1956, Tubesteak recalled “the Feds were after me,” so he had to fly to Arizona for a military physical exam. Because of the calcium deposits which formed on his feet and kneecaps from prolonged kneeling on a surfboard, Tubesteak was unable to wear shoes. He was declared ineligible for the draft, and went back to the beach in Malibu.
Tubesteak’s story sparked Opai’s recollection that “a lot of surfers actively cultivated surf bumps” and many success fully evaded the draft “with all kinds of subterfuges.”
However, Opai remembers there was no political coherence to their resistance to the draft, the surfers just wanted to stay on the beach.
During the summer of 1956, Tubesteak met a young girl on the beach named Kathy Kohner, who said she wanted to learn how to surf. Tubesteak traded a ride on his surfboard for the sack lunch Kathy was carrying with her. He and his friends chided the small teenager, and called her a “gidget,” a hybrid word that combined “girl” and “midget.” The nickname stuck.
The surfers were impressed with Gidget’s tenacity in learning how to surf, and they incorporated her into their social clique at Malibu beach. Gidget relayed her surfing adventures to her father, who wrote a book titled “Gidget” which became an instant best seller. Frederick Kohner sold the film rights to Columbia Pictures for $50,000.
The movie “Gidget” dramatically changed surfing’s image, as screenwriters fashioned a highly romanticized beach atmosphere replete with tribal overtones: bonfires, ukulele sounds, flames from tiki lamps danced on the beach, all backed by the rolling beat of bongo drums.
These representations all helped to create sensual images of the surfing life-style that stood at odds with the prevailing Cold War culture of sexual “containment” and social conformity.
Kahuna, the “surf bum” character who lived in a beach shack in the movie “Gidget” was a composite character based on the real Tubesteak. During the summer of 1958, a casting call from Columbia Studios gave Tubesteak the opportunity to work as a technical consultant and perform stunt work as a surf “double.” He also had a minor role in the film, which was released in 1959.”
Gidget Must Die (a dark comedy)
Frankly this one gave me a start—I had just finished reading the story of the Windansea surf club and how Gidget had ruined surfing… and I’m just trying to find some content from my own blog-might-as-well-one-day-be-a-movie-if-not-a-book spunkygidget.com by a lazy Google search and — GIDGET MUST DIE! a dark comedy.
And? Published on my birthday, December 1, 2010:
“Thirty years later, a surf legend returns to Malibu to kill everyone in The Gidget movie for ruining his surf spot.”
I’d say I thanked God that it said Malibu and not Windansea, but I wasn’t on speaking terms with him at that moment in time.
I remember leaving the laptop alone at the time, walking away. Stunned. Here I was living on this epic beach, as real as a real life “gidget” as you get, in the worst way possible. I reasoned—she was called Gidget because it was a nickname—”girl+midget” to refer to her as the tiny surfer girl. Her dad read her diary, and then wrote the book, literally. But was I any less Gidget just because someone who knew her named me?
Is this what they mean by “existential crisis”? The image of that movie where they are sitting on the big bouncing balls outside and the somber actors bong them against each others foreheads pop into my head. I hadn’t yet seen Martin & Orloff. Life was already stranger than fiction, and now this…?
The Real Gidget
It wasn’t until I moved years later to Santa Barbara that it occurred that I really thought about meeting Gidget. She surfed a competition regularly there, and the Bishop (as I call him) knew her through Cliff Robertson (from the Gidget movie). Cliff used to live around the corner from where I did, a few blocks away, off Windansea.
I decided against it. I don’t know why. Or maybe I do. When I wanted to meet Dr. Seuss, and bothered to find his real name, it wasn’t but a moment not too soon. He was dead. I was heart broken when I had learned. I had wanted to take him to breakfast at Harry’s and ask him what made him make books for people like me.
Instead, I riddled away my sanity in Alice in Wonderland woven stories of Illuminati meets prophecy and debated meeting Audrey, his wife. (In the end I didn’t even do that. I don’t know why. I think she’d think I was as nutty as her husband, and perhaps that’d make her sad?) I bought Gidgets and Women Warriors: Perceptions of Women in the 1950s and 1960s by Catherine Gourley instead.
... years pass ... << insert the one who flew the cuckoo's nest to apple's here's to the crazy ones >>
Spunky Gidget Gets Married
When I got married, I had so much nervous energy waiting for the next week to begin. I was stuck in California while my life was going on without me in North Carolina.
I did what any woman in my family would do and hit the road again.
I had an epic week testing products for my then employer on a road trip I photo documented, with metadata and geo time stamping and data galore, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, to San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles again.
The Muppets & The Bird and The Bee
I met these kids…
I picked them up in the basin of the Malibu Canyon. They were on the side of the road with bikes, and moments later a woman who must have been a mom. The mom dispersed the kids and bikes like Tetris between her vehicle and mine, a combination of mini junior lifeguards and the teenaged bike boy and girl pair.
We listen to the Bird and the Bee, flow through the canyon on the way to take them home, and close with The Muppets (life…)
They tell me their mom loves that song, and she’d just love me. Indeed she did, she gave me a bouquet of gorgeous flowers, but broke my heart as I went to pull away…
“I think Gidget is dead.”
<Insert Bird and the Bee > Calabasas GPS / Nike+ Here>
I Googled for the Malibu Barbie prototype—Gidget surfed Malibu, while Spunky Gidget’s heart belongs to Windansea Beach…
Published Vanity Fair, August 2006 there was an article, but I couldn’t find news which showed whether the real—or which—Gidget died or not.
“Surfing was still a strange and exotic art in 1961, when Mike Nader, Duane King, and Larry Shaw escaped their troubled homes for the beach at Malibu. Becoming acolytes to the dashing, lawless Miki Dora, the three boys found themselves at the crest of a craze sparked by one of the girl surfers on the scene, whose father wrote the novel Gidget about her obsession. Sheila Weller revisits an underground culture of big waves and wild times, which ended in a blaze of Hollywood decadence, drugs, and death.” …
“End of an Era—‘I just realized we’re coming up on the 40th anniversary,” Linda Opie tells her old friend Salli Sachse. They are in Salli’s oceanfront cottage in La Jolla, just down the road from Windansea, where, 45 years ago, they were the most beautiful surfer girls on that perfect beach, and where the surfers, for the girls’ money, were far more likable and regular-Joe than the preeners up in Malibu. Windansea could claim, for example, Butch Van Artsdalen and Mike Diffenderfer, who had surfed the notorious Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii.” …
“A tragedy at Windansea in July 1966 probably spelled the end of the era. Salli Sachse was in Hong Kong, filming The Million Eyes of Sumuru. She had recently finished what would be—the name says it all—the bottom-feeding last of the beach-party movies: The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. Linda Opie was home in La Jolla. Their husbands had obtained pilot’s licenses and taken up stunt flying. As Linda was walking to Windansea, she saw the old army trainer plane that her husband owned coming in too low over the water after a stunt maneuver. “Pull up! Pull up!” she cried. But the plane, lacking speed, crashed into the surf, and both men in it died, Linda’s husband from a blow to the head, Salli’s by drowning. Those were just two of nine deaths that would occur during and after the filming of that movie. It was a tragedy from which both women found it difficult to recover.”
After the wedding, I emailed Gidget.
Back to Present
Stranger than Fiction
The other day I Googled myself.
There’s another book about ‘me’.
<Overlay REM Man on the Moon>
This time it’s not my “name”, it’s my hyperthymic temperament.
Before the world actually resorts to real life hunger games, I’d like to produce my real-life daydream.
A touch of a first-rate madness, maybe?
It’s like a creative life experience deja vu again and again.
It’s like cognitive science has bled bits and bites into eternity.
If I were to consider the internet my homework, it’s time to get my assignment ready.
I think they call it Digital Media.
What an understand statement.
We had to build the infrastructure, the platform, the network and the tools first.
I’m tired of designing.
I want to create.
One day I’ll pull the GEOLOC where I stopped and dropped the kids, where she said, “I think Gidget is dead”, and I had to wonder on so many levels if she meant just what she said and I’ll pull the records which show who lived in that house, and I’ll cross reference to pull the contact information and let them know it’s ready.
Because I told them I would.
I wish I would never have stopped blogging. It would have been done already.
[Do you know how scary this stuff is?
Hanging around those Malibu hills,
driving those Santa Maria midnight runs…
Nah… don’t mix fact with fiction, literal with interpretation.
I’m working on my story telling.]
I would like to be something of C.S. Lewis meets Steinbeck, raised on scripture, and hopefully just a touch more than Judy Blumesque. And don’t fault me for befriending Kesey, Wolfe, and Kerouac on my way back to Chandler, Faulkner, Elizabeth Hollister Frost and Milton.