The Ben from Malibu to PA and Minor Brushes with the Law

Ben Marcus is an old and valued friend from when I lived in Southern California and we both worked together at Surfer Publications. He is a phenomenal writer and force of nature when it comes to insane road experiences. This was from a dispatch couple weeks ago from a trip for a feature story fishing Delaware and PA in upcoming edition of FFJ.

Quote marks indicate the begining and end of his communique, with several of his usual sign-off quotes left at the bottom. There are those who pose as “New” journalists, aping HST and Tom Wolfe and generally making an ass of themselves, and then there is the real deal, like Ben:

“An interesting start to this fishing trip.

Remembering that BB pistol under the mattress was the biggest heart palpitation since I almost destroyed Kelly Slater’s brand new, $100,000 Audi two years ago.

Maybe Jeff wants to blog this for The Flyish Journal, as it happens?

It started funny boy howdy. I could have been taken to jail.



My plane to PA leaves at 7:00 AM and the first shuttle is at 4:30 so I need to kill some time.

I am leaving the van at this Radisson Hotel which is about four miles from the airport.

The lady at the front desk let me use the computer room, so I will kill time by boring one and all with this blog.

Earlier I killed time by getting pulled over by a Scotts Valley PD on Highway 17 – and ended up getting a ticket for having pot in the car, and someone else’s prescription drugs.

But that wasn’t the fun part. The cop pulled me over for no good reason other than that I’m driving a sketchy looking van.

I pulled off on an exit and my insurance and reg and license checked out, but he asked me about guns because I have two gun incidents on my license, both of them because I was returning from trips to Alaska where I took guns.

The first happened when I was pulled over by Park Police in Cronkite Park just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Guns are not allowed in Federal parks and I was pulled over for tags or something.

When I told the Park Police I had a 12 gauge and a PPK Walther in the van, they freaked out and handcuffed me and searched the van.

It was all legal and permitted, but now that’s all on my license.

So this cop asked about guns and I said no no no there’s no guns in the car, although I did tell them there was a little bit of pot in a glass jar – hopefully not enough to get me in trouble.

And then, luckily, I remembered that I still had the BB pistol I borrowed from John O.

I had seen it under the mattress where I also hide my checkbook and luckily I pulled the checkbook out of there today, and saw the gun.

So I told the officer, “Don’t freak out, but there is a gun that looks like a Glock under the mattress. It’s a BB gun.”

So this guy called backup and I was frisked but not handcuffed.

The cop tossed the van and found that glass jar of pot which wasn’t a big deal, but I did have a prescription bottle with my dad’s name on it that had three hydrocodone pills in it.

The cop also found the gun and said it did look very real, but there was nothing illegal about it and he put it back.

The pot wasn’t enough to get me in trouble, but having someone else’s prescription pills is a borderline felony.

I explained that I keep those pills in case I get a kidney stone, which is true.

Kidney stones hurt like a mofo, and it takes Vicodin or something strong to knock the pain down.

I talked to the other cop about Alaska and Malibu and told him the entire plot to White Lobster and talked for quite a while, while they tried to figure out what the pills were, and whether it was a felony or not.

I must have been there almost an hour, but my charm offensive worked and they realzied I was neither a drug addict or a gun nut, and I got an infraction for the pot, a misdemeanor for the prescription pills and he put the gun back where he found it.

So, an auspicion start to this fishing trip to Pennsylvania.

This was arranged by Cory Bluemling, a friend from Malibu who is attended University of Delaware.

Just before he left Malibu I loaned Cory my fly fishing gear and he took it to Aspen and got hooked, so to speak.

So now he fishes in Delaware and Pennsylvania and I am flying there tomorrow to see for real the photos he has been sending me.

I spent today running around town, mailing taxes and copies of books and checks to people I have owed money to for a while.

I have a decent royalty check coming – most of it from the Germanization of The Surfing Handbook.

That money is going to finance a good summer of Malibu, Maui and Montana which will be fun, although I hope that ticket I got today won’t have a bad fine with it.

So I spent today running around Santa Cruz. I mailed about 15 signed copies of The Art of Standup Paddling to people who helped me write it and collect photos, and that felt good.

I was hoping that royalty check would come today so I could take care of a lot of financial details, but it didn’t and I had to borrow money from Danny D – who wasn’t too keen on the idea of this fishing trip.

Neither was I for a few hours today and I flirted with the idea of not going, but changed my mind.

Took care of business and then went for a paddle at Indicators around 7:00.

Yesterday was huge and out of control and I spent two hours getting beat up and scrambling and getting caught inside, but it felt good.

It takes that much exercise and exertion for me to feel normal, and I don’t always get that.

Tried to get it again today but the surf was much smaller and it was high tide and bouncy and windy at Indicator.

Got a couple but it wasn’t too good. Cowells and Indicator need a low tide – the lower the better.

I recenty did a story about the invention of the surf leash for The Surfer’s Journal, and the gist of the story is that surfing at Steamer Lane was the mother of the invention of the leash.

I was thinking about how the Lane would be very hard to surf without a leash and then sure enough there was a guy trying to swim in as his longboard got completely destroyed on the rocks below the statue.

He retrieved both pieces but I think it was a total loss.

So, I am off to Delaware and Pennsylvania to fish.

I fly to Philadelphia then take a train to Delaware and then we gonna catch some fish.

i have my Sage flyrod and that big spey rod and all my Patagonia stuff: vest, waders, boots.

I actually left my laptop at home if you can believe that, but I have several books I need to read for this novel I am attempting to write.

Right now I am trying to get through The Communist Manifesto, and I also am reading J Paul Getty’s autobiography As I See It, a book called End of Oil and Beloved Infidel, by Sheila Graham – the woman who was F Scott Fitzgerald’s girlfriend when he lived in Malibu, and was working in Hollywood,.

Fitzgerald was making $1000 a week writing screenplays in the late 1930s, which is the equivalent of $15,000 a week now.

He hated Hollywood and pretty much hated his faded self and what he really hated was meeting people who thought he was long dead.

By 1940, he was dead – a heart attack from too much smoking and drinking.

And the stress of being a writer, which I understand.

Instead of smoking and drinking he should have stimulated himself by getting pounded at big Indicator – a natural high.

But Fitzgerald didn’t like the sun and the surf and he only spent a couple months at Malibu – from spring 1938 to fall 1938, when he moved to Encino.

So, I have lots to read and I’ll go fishing and who knows what else will happen in Delaware and Pennsylvania.

This trip started on the wrong foot, because the cop incident was dumb and embarassing and hopefully won’t be a problem when I go to court on May 16th.

A very small amount of pot and three Vicodin. I ain’t Charles Manson.

I am going to keep a blog on this trip and maybe this entire summer, because that royalty check – if it ever shows up – is going to let me have the summer I have been wanting to have for a long time.

Roughly it will be Santa Cruz with two trips to LA for the grand opening of the Malibu Library on April 22, and then two parties in the first week of May: The XXL Awards and a Bmac deal at the Prism Gallery.

I want to use that art opening as a model for the Fourth of July party in White Lobster.

I might get to spend as much as two months on Maui, as I wrote part of a surfboard history book for a guy, who now wants me to edit it.

He didn’t pay me, but he offered me his condo at Maalaea, and then he is leaving for six weeks from June to July and needs a house sitter and someone to look after his 100-pound tortoise.

So two months of SUPping around Maaalea and Mala Wharf and such might put me in the pink.

And I might go visit a certain KG on the island of Oahu, who THINKS she can beat me at Scrabble.

I have been playing against the computer online and I used a Scrabble cheat program to look at words, and a couple of times I have beat the computer.

But I now know all the tricky two and three letter words and all the Q and Z words, so watchit.

I hope to do that into July, then I want to be in Malibu on the Fourth of July because that is when White Lobster is set.

And then after that, if I have any money left, I want to head north to Seattle to see moms, and then turn right and go fishing in Montana.

North Yellowstone, baby. Lamarr River.

We shall see.

If anyone has read this far, say “Hello.”

It’s now 2:33 and I am tired and buzzing on coffee and chocolate crullers.

At least I will sleep on the plane.

Ciao for now.

I need to get that fricking BB pistol back to John.

Holy smokes I’m glad I remembered it was under the mattress.

That cop would have called the National Guard if he’d found that Roscoe without me telling him.

Always be honest to cops, that’s my motto.

Right now I have to finish a story about Garrett Mcnamara’s 90 foot wave.

He rode it at Praia do Norte near Nazare in Portugal and proved me right on something I saw in 1984.

I was there with the lovely lads from Blindforce, chasing down a musical Christmas card that the Portuguese cops thought was a bomb.

We stopped at Nazare and drove out to the end of the point and it was just frickign humongous.

The biggest waves I had ever seen and I have been saying that for almost 30 years.

Garrett proved me right on that bomb, but I don’t think it will win anything.

Okay, enough of my yakking.

It’s been nice cruising around the Bay Area listening to old school funk.

When I get back, I am going to do a lot of that.

Rent cars and just go for little exlporatory trips north and south of Santa Cruz.

There’s a lot to see, and now I can do that.


Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. – Plato

Aloha + hola = alohola, and it’s a palindrome, don’t you know. – Anonymous.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Steven Jobs.

I’m the type who’d be happy not going anywhere as long as I was sure I knew exactly what was happening at the places I wasn’t going to. I’m the type who’d like to sit home and watch every party that I’m invited to on a monitor in my bedroom.

Andy Warhol


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