"Topanga Beach:
Topanga is a State of Mind"

by Jim Fitzpatrick

Editor's Note: Topanga Beach may become a state park. The land is currently owned by the Los Angeles Athletic Club and is leased to the residents. Most leases run until August 1973. However, reports indicate an escrow has been opened for the sale of the land to the state with the condition that all structures be removed. Whether Topanga eventually becomes a state park remains to be seen. In the meantime Topanga is private. Very Private! And the trespasser rip-off is pretty mean. Jim Fitzpatrick has been a resident of Topanga Beach for many years. He's experienced the good vibes and the bad ones too. He's seen what the beach has been, is now, and possibly will be. The following are his thoughts and a reminiscence of his home.

Before the throes of mankind had besieged the world, about 1931, there was a place a day's ride out of the hamlet of LA. At this place were many rituals of significant circumstance... these rituals were performed upon the sea at the mouth of a small riverlet. Knights of the sea performed feats of magnificence... from a stationary position upon the water, they would suddenly rise upon a swell from the sea and they would propel themselves forward and forward and forward and forward until they had ridden for virtually a short lifetime. They died not at the end of this feat, however. Why, many lived to repeat it time and time again. It was the long walk back from what is now Ted's Rancho that eliminated many. Tis myth of course; but there are many who have claimed to have performed just this feat... be it theirs then.

Now for a fable, which tis not assimilar to a myth. There once was a land upon the shore, and upon this shore stood a line of houses. Now these houses were not grand to be sure; yet these houses had the niceties that made the people smile that milled within the walls of these houses. These homes. These castles upon the sea. And for many years the shore upon which these people lived, was their shore. Then, people came who did not smile... these people looked hungry... so... so the people who smiled put up fences and barricades to keep out the people that looked hungry. Which leaves us to think that you shouldn't go places looking hungry, or, if you smile, you shouldn't have a bigmac in your hand.

If you think of a dog as a thing which has four legs, and chews socks, and slobbers on the evening paper, and shits on the carpet... well, then you don't know: Noah, Simba, Maggie, Jude, Bruce, Wolf, Kim, Macho, Barney, Rogan, Zorba, Byron, Kabeer, Digbee, Duke, Patches, Ml pup, Fido, Blue, Penelope, Luke, Willy, Oso, Jack, Heidi, Goomba, Misty, Polio, Whiskey, Schroder, Polo, or all and any of the 'crazy liddle ones' that have roamed the sands of Topanga.

Now the cats are different, of course. But then again it's a very similar situation At any given moment the eyes of: Lectric, lily Illy, Lick, Spyder Cat, Krishna, Choochker, Folley Bear, Tigger, Gremmie, Zelda, Freaky, White Junker, Black Junker or Micro Kitty could catch you in some position that you would rather have had gone unnoticed. But that's a cat's purpose... ah, the cats.

So then the people. The people. The people with the smiles, with the dogs, with the cats, with the houses. The people with the spirit that has made Topanga Beach what it is and what it always will be. Some were mothers. Others were fathers, and the others were the children of those mothers and fathers or the children of other mothers and fathers. All of these people have done things of greatness and nothingness; but the greatness of them all is the fact thai they have been part of the whole, and that whole has been the madness of all its parts. Where else do millionaires, welfarers, homosexuals, perverts, drunks, winos, drug addicts, lawyers, criminals, surfers, bikers, jews, wasps, radicals, fatties, skinnies, gurus, carnivores, fruitarians, vegetarians, omnivorians and all those in between, manage to cohabitate within such close proximity? Sure, the world is a mass of positives and negatives; but on any given day they all seem to be at Topanga. The stage is the beach and the players of the world are the people who live and have lived here. And so the people come and go... with them, they take or leave their smiles and dogs and cats and homes; but there is one thing that has remained in a relative state of permanence. The waves.

The waves. The waves at Topanga are their own special breed. Like all things, they are unique and they have retained that uniqueness ever since Dave Rochlen Sr. rode them farther than anyone else. The waves of Topanga have been home to me and many others. Home; secure in the blackness as your head parts the lip and the tunnel forms over your body and you're gone but not gone and you emerge and disappear and the sea flows into your soul and your body floats jnto the heavens... home free and smilin' and the mellowness explodes within your heart and no one but you can know the feeling.

The waves. The waves of yesteryear were the waves of today, as all waves are all the waves of all times; but the waves of yesteryear were not as populated. Is it good to tell you that? To reminisce of the days I surfed alone? Day after day. Days of surfing every wave you could catch. So exhausted that you have to sit and watch perfect waves peak, jump, throw, out at the point and then peel the distance of the beach. No, it's better to say that there were days of wind, or school, or work, or trespassers; yet still, those days were days of less people and because of that the memories of the waves make them great days. Days of offshore winds during a winter swell, surfing until the sun set... waves so perfect and golden... waves that captured the essence... waves that captured me in their cylinders.

That was then, this is now; it's different. The waves are surfed differently. Those moments, those moments of closeness and bliss, are fewer. It's hard to be alone with the sea when there are 36 people on and around you. So it's changed, the technique; but the waves are all the waves of all times.

So... sea-weed... so wee-weed has changed it all.
The people have changed.
The cats have changed.
The dogs have changed.
All of the facts have changed.
But the fables and myths and waves are all the time.

So where do the times go? To the future and the speculations of what will be? Maybe. So it's up to you... up to you, because it's gonna be you pulling up to the parking place that once was my bedroom, and it's gonna be you who will gaze upon the waves that were my home, and it's you that will inherit the myths and the fables... enjoy them, for they are many.

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Los Angeles, California, United States
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