#11 BEACH MUSIC: A time of tans, blonds and hot pants

Beach Music, originally published in the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, is really a tale of two cities: San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santa Monica, California. File it under On the Street Where I Live

Beach Music
We came to California from Canada, with a detour to Puerto Rico that lasted one endless summer of a year. A year in which I turned 15, and my hair turned blond from living in the sun.
“Psst,” the boys and men would call after me in the blue-cobbled streets of San Juan. “Psst! Hey, blondie. Psst! Hey, cutie pie.”
I was devastated when my parents said we had to go, that it was time to leave the island so that my older brother, Russell, could get a first rate education.
The plan was to drive cross country from Miami and settle in San Francisco so that my brother could finish high school before going on to UC Berkeley. But, once we got there in the fall of 1968, we found th…

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The Trip

I may have to bow out gracefully from the remainder of the #AtoZChallenge. I don't want to. I've been loving the excuse to write daily but we're taking a trip, leaving Saturday morning for the Florida keys, and I want to be as free from obligations as I can, better to blow where the balmy breeze takes me. I'm told that while Florida is mainly hot, sticky and buggy—sorry Floridians but that's what they tell me—I will have a chance to catch the balmy breeze in the Keys.

This will be my first trip to southern Florida since we stopped off in Miami en route from Puerto Rico to Los Angeles when I was a teenager. We stayed at some little Best Western motel near the beach waiting for our car to arrive; my parents had it shipped over from San Juan. I'm sure it was a Best Western, my parents swore by Best Westerns. We drove across the entire country plotting the day's travel by the Best Western Motels with swimming pools.  

I'm not interested in seeing Miami now; I imagine it will be as huge and overwhelming as Los Angeles to a first timer, but we'll take a drive, at least, through South Beach, see what all the fuss is about. Was about? South Beach doesn't seem to be quite the thing it was a few years back.

I'm more interested in seeing Fort Lauderdale. Bahia Mar, home of Travis McGee's Busted Flush is calling. Christian Bale is going to star as Travis in The Deep Blue Good-by, based on the first book in John D. MacDonald's most awesome 21 book series from the 1960's, and I'm following the movie over on my book-to-movie site, Chapter1-Take1. Going in search of Slip F-18 before we head off to the Keys is in order, but the fact that they're shooting at least some of The Deep Blue Good-by in Puerto Rico doesn't bode well for Lauderdale bearing any resemblance whatsoever to McGee's idyllic little hideaway. I'm sure it's just as built up and crazy as Miami Beach.

Fort Lauderdale though, is cheaper to fly into than Miami, and it's also home to the concept of spring break, and the grandaddy of spring break movies Where the Boys Are from 1960. I posted some pictures from the movie over on Chapter1-Take1 today and we've promised ourselves a trip to the Wreck Bar, the 'dive bar' where you can have a mai tai and watch the 'mermaids' swim if you are there early enough on a weekend night. We may not do that, but we'll stop by and see how the place looks. That's Stop #1 and #2 of the Literary Landmarks checked off. Stop #3, Ernest Hemingway's house, awaits in Key West.

See? Obligations galore already and we've barely left the airport!

Photo Source: I found this vintage postcard over at Swampy's Florida;


  1. Hope you have a good trip. The A-Z challenge is definitely a lot easier when you prewrite everything prior to it starting. I didn't do that this year and it was a struggle. I think I'll start putting it together around January for next year.

    Sean at His and Hobbies

    1. That's a great idea, pre-write a month's worth over the course of the year. Oh well, maybe next year:( I did enjoy it though.

    2. I liked Miami-the night life was fun in that I liked the pedestrian area where you could walk and just sit down.

    3. Hi! I’m a minion from the A to Z Challenge. I just wanted to thank you for participating this year and invite you to join in next year. Yup, prewriting and prescheduling is the ticket! Didn't do that this year, so it was a bit rough!

      Maui Jungalow


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