Good Vibrations

California surf music was merely top-ten pop fodder in Cape Breton when I was in high-school. The Beach Boys weren’t taken seriously, unlike the Beatles or the Stones who were the ‘real’ thing. So it wasn’t until California Girls that they caught me & to this day the opening bars of this song can transport me. I never did become a big fan so all I have in my collection are hits & smatterings.

tracksnow which way to the beach

I’ve seen the Brian Wilson bio & the story of his musical life is heart breaking but, to me, doesn’t really add anything more than nostalgia for the Boys music. At one time I did have the 45 of Good Vibrations but parted with that box of now priceless wax before I moved to TO. The electronic work on Vibrations is still unmatched. So subtle many people still don’t know its there.

snowsteps steps to the beach

I have two hits collections: a stand alone: 20 Good Vibrations – that has most of the greats: Fun, Fun, Fun etc. Another cd is of lps transfers from Endless Summer, another hits compilation and Surf’s Up. Up has some stunning work on it Long Promised Roads is epic, as is Feel Flows. Recently I downloaded fresh copies of Smiley Smile & Surf’s Up.

snowcoup little ice coupe

Those early hits are infused with a sunny sense of joy and hope, maybe that’s why they never really sunk into me (or the guys I hung out with then) we were moody deep men, don’t you know. It seemed sort of intellectually weak to admit to enjoying the Beach Boys when you had John Mayall or Bob Dylan telling us the real truth.


Ink on Purpose

Greg couldn’t remember when pain became such a pleasure.

Was it when he was six and had fallen backwards off the porch. His head had hit the ground hard, blood oozed freely and his mother was so attentive, so loving. More than she was ever at any other time. Even his Dad showed more concern, though even then, Greg sensed the difference between concern and affection.

But knowing the when certainly wasn’t going to change the now, the moment, this opportunity to savour the sweet balance between pain and pleasure.

As Greg leaned on the padded chest rest at the tattoo parlour he grimaced with the first few pricks of the needle. After those first few he no longer felt the pain only the slow purpose of Zak who was turning Greg’s bare white back into a swirl of  multicoloured Celtic knots.


‘No more than expected.’

‘Too bad.’

‘Yeah, too bad.’

The process was careful, deliberate and slow. It would take two afternoon sessions of about three hours each for Zak to complete this work of art.

Greg had dreamed of this for many years and when he finally had the money for it he didn’t hesitate. He had considered something small first, to see how it felt, to see if he could bear the pin prick process but didn’t want to numb this initial rush in anyway.

As Zak patiently outlined the first links along his shoulders Greg closed his eyes. Once he had this done he would move on to the next step in his transformation. Piercings. Along one side of the tattoo salon was an array of various metal bolts, tiny arrows, rings and small bar-bells that he could have inserted. He just had to decide where.

He had started his tattoo journey with his back as it would be a safe spot. No one at work would see it unless he wanted them too. It would be his new secret identity, his new sense of purpose, one that would never leave him.

west California sans Girls (or Boys)

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