This is the story of a lucky man, born the second son to loving parents who were just glad World War II was over. California at the beginning of the 1950s is nothing less than magic for a boy in a beachside hamlet where his dad is the local motorcycle cop, his year-older brother a budding genius, his stay-at-home mum a brilliant inspiration.
Indoctrinated into early surf and diving cultures, he rides the family coattails of these sports and soon finds his gift in the arts. Surfing, hot rods, and art fuel adventures into puberty. His Forest Gump-like ability to be at the pivotal events of social change see him surf in Hawaii at 16, attend art school in Berkeley through the Summer of Love, befriend and become a lover with the yet unknown Ms Joplin, create art with R. Crumb, drop acid at Esalen, while growing the business of supplying Mexican marijuana to a wanting underground.
The revoking of artistic deferments for the draft leads our protagonist to the nation’s heartland to fail induction into the meat grinder that is Viet Nam. Aggressive political activism is abandoned as the growing success of smuggling and use of cocaine takes hold.
Now a player in the expanding West Coast Hippy Mafia, larger shipments are landed on the East Coast needing transport to the West. International exploits culminate with hands-on farming in Colombia, all before the DEA was even formed.
An ever-stronger herb is needed. So before the bubble pops, importation by sea is shifted to industrial growing in New Mexico, where there are psychoactive spiritual awakenings with Mescalero shaman—while holding a piece of the crashed Roswell spaceship provided by a man who was there.
Financial success now aids the development of his custom car/art studio founded in 1970. Government eyes follow every move. Quitting while ahead only infuriates the suits. An orchestrated marriage to a straight doctor’s daughter produces two beautiful babies, loses the feds, but the ever-present addiction engulfs both parents, and events spin on.
The only true glue in the union is the love of the offspring, and as the marriage dissolves, he is a weekend parent with a cutting-edge studio supported by hidden profits. Now years off the smuggling scene with no desire to return, art and exotic cars play against beautiful women and children. Darker influences pull against a fading moral compass while guerrilla art projects compete with commissioned movie props and other questionable endeavors. The unexpected permanent return of his early-teen kids forces the long overdue determination to regain sobriety.
Condensing everything he knows in an attempt to regain control, he enrolls the teens and volunteers to teach in the same public high school that had so inspired him. Humorous adventures ensue as cross-generational friendships produce more art and writings, when the sudden deaths of all older family members influence a life-changing move to Australia. The following decade sees him devoted to creating and showing challenging art, amending previous failings, working with troubled youth in country Australia, and even running camel rides on the beach.
There are historic events and hair-raising adventures with descriptions as diverse as meeting Warhol, a weekend with Tennessee Williams, to say nothing of being with Joplin and a most adventurous assortment of strong female counterparts. It is based firmly in fact with only some names changed to protect the guilty. The massive collection of iconic art produced over a lifetime, the diverse adventures or mis-adventures, the lessons learned, are solidified into a story and ending that never excludes the reader throughout its pages.