Letters and comic
A little relish and dismay
I’ve read your publication with both relish and dismay, fondness and resentment for about a year. Some stories find me laughing out loud, or moved with the pith and poignancy expressed, others leave me grimacing or feeling empty. I can make room for all of it and I’m grateful The Rogue Voice exists.
Lately, however, I’ve been struggling with the question: given the current Zeitgeist in which we’re swimming, what is truly roguish? I wonder if, in the end, you offer a divisive, hierarchical, us-versus-them paradigm of reality that’s simply a different side of the same dualistic coin tossed from the mainstream “white bread” culture which you despise into the vast sea of influence and impressions that surround us all.
The way I see it, whether one is reaching for a remote control to watch another flaccid episode of American Idol in his overpriced apartment above the dive bar, or reaching for another beer in the dive bar, or reaching for a Banana Republic card at the chichi boutique across from the dive bar, it’s all the same: misguided spiritual impulse. We’ve forgotten that we are deeply connected to one another and the earth that holds us—little bundles of the same ball of energy—and this illusion of our separateness causes us great suffering, so we reach and reach and reach for more and more and more, yet not out to each other, and especially not to the ones we deem so different from us. The real roguish message, in my opinion, is this: We are all the same, from Wall Street stock broker to Cayucos slacker, from the war-mongering head-of-state, to little girl about to step her tiny foot into a cluster bomb remnant in Afghanistan or Vietnam. Compassion for those who look and act like we look and act is easy, there’s no deviation from the norm there, but to open our hearts to those we consider unacceptable or profane requires courage, moving beyond our conditioned identification. We are one, not two. I wonder, is that rogue?
San Luis Obispo
Back in the day
Dear Rogue Voice:
Hello and congratulations to Dennis Cutshaw. Enjoyed his brotherly love dive piece [“One more jump,” Jan. 2007] a lot. I think I knew that rock in another ocean.
I’ve owed Dennis a thank-you note for a couple decades. He sent kind words to me on a post card in ‘86 when I was a reporter for the Telegram-Tribune and I never got a chance to answer; there was no return address. Tonight, flipping through some old books, I found Dennis’s card again, and since there’s Google now….
‘Preciate it if you can forward this to Dennis with my belated thanks.
And thank you for the piece on Happy Jacks. I’ve a great memory of that place from 1968 which is when I fell in love with Morro Bay. I’d been through the town before, but that time I limped in on a southbound ketch. Her engine had packed up and her rotten cotton sails blew out off Sur, and we’d limped along sewing sail after sail, dreaming aloud of chocolate milkshakes, only to have each sail blow out again soon after it was raised, ripped in a new place.
Off Cayucos, I lay in the bilge for an hour, flashlight in my teeth, with wrenches and screwdrivers and oily water mixed with gasoline soaking my clothes, and I managed to get the thing running on one of its two cylinders. That’s how we rounded Morro Rock slowly and made it in to a town dock somewhere near where the aquarium was, or maybe still is, early one afternoon. Too tired to lower the remnants of our sails, grizzled from four days and nights of little sleep, we looked like hell. It was all we could do to get a couple lines on the dock.
Slumped there in the cockpit trying to recover enough energy to do something—we didn’t yet know what—a fisherman we’d never seen came down onto the float, looked us over, stepped aboard his troller across the dock, then paused. He stepped back onto the float and came over to our rail. Upon learning our story, he gave us some local knowledge then said, “Looks like you boys are going to need a truck.”
He gave us the keys and told us where to look for his white Ford half-ton. Half an hour later we and discovered this perfect stranger had left us the keys to a brand-new pickup! Damn!
We then found our way up to what I think may have been an early-day Dorn’s cafe. Though we looked like hell, we were welcomed. It seemed they already knew about us, how we got there.
“Give us the chocolatiest chocolate milkshakes you ever thought of making,” we said, “and remember there’s no such thing as too much chocolate!”
The girl made milkshakes from heaven. We ordered another round, and when we finished them and tired to pay, the manager refused our money: “Your enthusiasm was enough.”
“Where are we?” we asked each other as we strolled out and down the street, energized by kindness and sugar. Then came Happy Jack’s. Without discussion, without even a word, we three turned in, ordered beers and began a rack of pool.
There’s more to this tale but I’ve not decided it should be shared. It’s a little risque. The upshot, though, was I never forgot that day in Morro Bay. Years later, when looking for a daily newspaper job, I remembered the place, bee-lined down to SLO and the T-T and told the editor I was going to work there and he may as well hire me right away because I’d bug him until he did. That was 1982. I lived aboard my sailboat while on the paper, the token yachtie at the Morro Bay Fuel Dock.
Thanks for the Rogue Voice. It’s given me little taste of home, and of an era we didn’t know then was so grand. Glad I went looking for Cutshaw and found your journal. Thank him for that for me too.