June 4, 1994. That’s when I went to see Pink Floyd play live at Veteran’s Stadium. I was not prepared for the urban hippie subculture that had the audacity to share my air at this show and their presence was an eye-opening experience.
You see, I’m from the beach. I grew up at the beach and god-willing I’ll die on the beach and get washed out with the next tide. We beach guys were always a little “off”, but our goofiness, stunning good looks, and prowess on the boards won us regional renoun and plenty of bunnies (or Betties, or whatever we decided to call the hotties in those days). ‘Twas a gnarly existence our simple, sun-bleached lot enjoyed.
I guess you could call us a “subculture”, but where I came from it was the culture. The only other dominant force in town was the Navy, but they were no competition for the daytrippers and other no-locals. You take a bunch of guys with the same haircut, same blue jeans with a polo or T-shirt tucked in and wearing a leather belt and put them up against us…. ha! Dude, we smashed them every time in the coolness department. They did have cars, though. And having a car was a bonus. They also had money. Yeah, they had money.
We had a friggin huge, yellow ’68 Plymouth. My bud and I got it for free after some dude just left it where it died and asked us if we wanted it.
So we fixed up the engine, tore out the back seat and mounting rails, and removed the trunk/cabin divider, giving us plenty of room to stow our boards. It also fit a queen size matress quite well.
So, the squids had the mustangs, the jeeps, the nice trucks, but we had the Banana Boat. The squids had wads of cash ready to spend on some ditzy chick, but we had pure animal charisma and the Under-18 set. Damn, it felt good to be a surfer. A Surfer. Not this surfer/skater or surfer/skater/snowboarder/X-Treme Sport crap. There was no slash in our world. Skateboarding was for kids and the mountains were too far off. We were pure. We had our essence. There was no taint of the slash on our beach. We were too busy surfing and hittin up the bunnies. The only other secondary skill any of us had was knowing three chords on the guitar, but that was just for the chicks. Chicks dig dudes who can play a guitar. It’s a sure lay.
Which brings me to that much-maligned word, Dude. People give you shit for saying it all the time, but if you think about it, it’s a good word to employ. It means all sorts of things, and out there on the water, an economy of words is a necessity. It’s loud out there and great distances are involved. If you want to point out a killer swell to a bud, you point and yell, “Dude!”. It also doubles as a warning. If you don’t get what the other guy’s saying, you look puzzled and ask, “Dude?”. If you’re disappointed in your bud’s performance or if you just want to offer some consolation, a simple “Dude” with a sigh conveys a depth of emotion I’ve yet to encounter anywhere else in the language. I guarantee that if the Founding Fathers were from the beach, the Declaration of Independence would’ve read:
And everyone would’ve known what they were talking about. John Hancock, when endorsing the document, would’ve probably added, in large, stylized script:
So stick that in your nose and snuff it, you King’s English pansies.
Now, there was some drug use, but nothing exceptional. Some dudes toked up, but those were usually the lesser dudes whose skills in the social and sporting departments weren’t quite up to snuff. Tokes usually impacted your performance in both areas, so most dudes stayed away from it unless it was an “in” to get a chick. There was certainly nothing subversive about it and it didn’t have any real cachet to it. We usually stuck to Mad Dog 20/20 or Thunderbird when we wanted to get ripped.
Now imagine my surprise a few years later when I go to the Pink Floyd show in Philly and see the travelling carnie types in attendance. They had the nitrous canisters out in the parking lot where people were paying for balloons filled with the stuff for a buzz. There were all sorts of pills, powders and leafs on sale from out of people’s cars. You had all these people going ga-ga over the shit.
They reminded me of that little weird shit in school who was always looking for novel ways to get high. “Dude! Whippets, man, whippets! You get a can of whip creme and…”
“Butane, man, butane!”
Okay, man. Sheesh, chill out little dude. You’re gonna kill yourself. Those dudes were always the pathetic ones. You always felt sorry for them because their life was probably shitty and they were looking for any means to escape it. Now they’ve got kids trying to get high off of Krylon. Fucking dotards.
So here I am walking around with a bunch of burnouts that would make the stoners in school look hip. And they’re old, man. God, it was pathetic. And they’re like, trying to hide the fact that they’re fucking pathetic burnout losers when we come up to the security checkpoint. They suddenly formed an upright posture and tried to affect a “straight” demeanor with the guards.
Dude, that faded and ripped-up shirt with those unsightly stains coupled with the haven’t-been washed-in-years-jeans are just some of the first clues to others that you’re not the fine, upstanding model of society that your straightened-up spine would seem to indicate. The other clues might be the unkempt beard and that dead badger taking up residence on your melon. I swear most of these dudes looked like the bastard mutant love children of Jerry Garcia and Abbie Hoffman. Then there were the sandals. Oh god the sandals. Listen folks, if you’re going to wear sandals, at least make it look like you gave an honest attempt at keeping your feet clean. God, the fucking toenails that are half-gone or yellowed and that, whatever the hell that substance was…fuck it, that shit’s too gross.
We’re going through the checkpoint and the guards in the yellow windbreakers are checking us for contraband. We get through, and I look behind me to see some chick open up a pack of Marlboro Reds to reveal….a bunch of joints! Oh, the giddy expression on her face knowing she got something past The Man. Fucking skank-ass hosebeast. Toke up, skank. The world may look better to you afterwards, but damned if you’re still monkey butt ugly to me.
It was evident soon after the show began that most people managed to get a ton of contraband past the security guys as a big cloud of smoke hovered within the confines of the stadium. It was like the world’s biggest bong. The smell of burnt rope permeated everything. It didn’t register at the time that I could get a “contact buzz”, but I was pretty damned mellow afterwards.
We were travelling back to the base when I told my bud that we needed to stop by a Denny’s, like now. Man, I was famished. Everyone else agreed, so we started looking forward to stopping by the Denny’s off of Route 13 in Dover.
Clueless bastards that we were, we forgot that race weekend was coming up, so the place was packed with rednecks from all over the mid-atlantic region. Fuck that. I wasn’t going to go toe-to-toe with two large subcultural gatherings in one night.
We went back home and I crashed out in my dorm room. At about four in the morning, the panic hit me. What if they bring the drug dogs through and they catch a whiff of my clothes? Shit. I got up and started laundering everything I was wearing during the concert.
At about 8 A.M., the call came in from work. “You need to report to the hospital for random urinalysis testing.” Random my ass.