Saturday, June 23, 2012

An Old-School Beach Party

Scotch Beach is where the locals hang out.  When we arrive, a massive bonfire made from wooden pallets boosted from the ferry dock throws flames fifteen feet into the air.  Big, lifted F-250's and tricked out Jeeps with diamond plate panels and winches bolted to the bumpers are haphazardly parked in a semi-circle around the fire.  Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher" blasts from one of the truck's open windows.

The people are a motley, shaggy-looking crew decked out in de rigueur surf wear and flip flops.  They clutch Coronas, pass joints and play fetch with happy go lucky dogs all free from leashes.  A group of pretty, young waitresses fresh from work wear t-shirts that say, "Mohegan Cafe, The National Hotel and Finn's Seafood". They smoke cigarettes while huddled around a keg half buried in the sand.  The buzz of a dirt bike engine rips over the din as a scraggly-looking guy in dirty jeans, no shirt and a leather cap tears off down the beach into the darkness.  Seconds later, he turns the bike around and guns it towards a small ramp made of packed sand and a piece of washed up plywood.  He hits the jump at full speed and clears a seven foot sea kayak set lengthwise.  The party goers erupt in a chorus of, "Whoohoos!" before chanting, "Josie! Josie! Josie!".

I turn to Boomer who has just come back from the keg with fresh beers. "So I take it his name is Josie".

"Ha!  Yeah!  That dude's crazy.  He's the moped mechanic at the shop I run.  He basically lives on Budweiser and cigarettes."

"So that's what you do?  You run a moped shop?"

"Yeah. Well...during the summer.", says Boomer.

"And what about the rest of the year?", I'm intrigued.

"I carry sticks around".

"You're a landscaper?", I ask confusedly.

"Nah man- I'm a caddy.  You know, like- Golf?"

"So let me get this straight.  During the summer you rent mopeds.  During the winter you're a golf caddy?  That's what you do?"

Boomer takes a gulp of beer, wipes the runoff from his chin then shrugs, "Beat's workin'..."

Teddy, the lighthouse keeper, approaches with a small group of friends.  "Boomer- I keep trying to tell these guys that the Doc here is that rapper everyone's been talking about but no one believes me."

"Yeah- this is the guy", reassures Boomer.

"This guy?!", pipes up a long-haired kid wearing a Pabst t-shirt.  "He looks like a history professor or some shit!".  The group erupts in laughter.  "Yeah- if this guy's a rapper then I'm Kelly Slater", mocks a tatted up kid in a Rip Curl hoodie.  More laughter...

Boomer and I exchange looks.  My gaze turns steely.  Boomer gives me a slight nod before turning back to the group.  "Well if you monkeys want a show- you came to the right place".

I stand up and brush the sand from my amazing brown polyester pants and sports jacket before adjusting my orange tie.  "Any of you Point Break rejects got an iPod adapter in your rig?"

"Yeah.  I do.", says Pabst boy.

I produce my iPhone from my pocket and cue up my groundbreaking track, "413".  "Put this on and crank your shit to eleven.  If you think you can handle that."

The kid in the Pabst t-shirt scoffs, takes my iPhone and obediently plugs it in.  Moments later the beat drops as I jump on the hood of his jeep as heads turn and a crowd gathers.  As the first verse kicks in, the entire beach party has surrounded the makeshift stage.  Heads bob up and down as I launch into the first verse...

"Yeah yeah I'm from the 413 off of 91 south of Chicopee
Across the river from the C-I-T-Y the city of Springfield I drop dope beats
With a signature flow that I call my own it rings true like a solid gold telephone
Dr. Westchesterson ringin' your bell, I'm doin' it and doin' it and doin' it well..."

It take the kids a minute to catch the chorus but once they do, the entire beach party has their hands in the air chanting, "413! 413! 413! 413!".

Per usual, I've just rocked another muthafuckin' party.  But that's what the Dr. does so you big.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lighthouses Rule

The moped coughs back through town and up past the Spring House Hotel.  The road winds down and around following the rocky shoreline.  It's absolutely beautiful out here.  A few minutes later, the beacon of the Southeast Lighthouse emerges from behind a rise in the hill like a Leviathan Cyclops.

"Whoah. That's cool".

"Pretty sweet eh?", replies Boomer.

We bump up the dirt driveway towards the brick structure which sits atop a high bluff overlooking the waters of Long Island and Block Island sounds.

A beat up, white delivery truck sits in the driveway of the lighthouse keeper's house.  Boomer parks the moped and we dismount.  As we approach the truck, a string bean of a guy with buggy eyes and some sort of weird afro pops out of the back of the truck like a spring.

"Hey Teddy!  What's good?", shout's Boomer as we approach.

"Boom Boom!  What's happenin' my man?", waves Teddy with an enormous smile.

I'm introduced.  "Teddy, this is the Dr.  He's gonna be over at Captain Nick's this summer."

"Hey!  Nice ta meetcha man!"  With both hands Teddy grabs my hand and pumps it up and down vigorously.  "I heard about you!  You're the guy with the videos right?  Love your stuff!"

"Thanks man- nice to meet you too.  This is some lighthouse you've got here".

"What?  This old thing?", Teddy waves his arm dismissively at the glorious landmark.  "Ha!  Yeah she's pretty cool I guess.  Wanna go inside?"

Boomer interrupts and winks, "Teddy- I was thinking we'd take a little hike up to the lantern room, if you catch my drift.  The Dr. here is a specialist in remedies of an...herbal nature".

"Ooooh!  Abso-friggin'-lootely!", exclaims Teddy- his eyes widening. He sweeps his hand dramatically towards the lighthouse's porch.  "Right this way gentlemen".

Moments later Teddy opens the creaky old door and we're blasted by a musty rush of air.  Words can not describe how cool this place is.  It looks like nobody has touched the place since it was built.  An old dressmaker's dummy sits in a corner amongst various other brick-a-brack and antiques.

Teddy begins the tour as we walk up flights of stairs. "She was built in 1874 in the Victorian style.  The 67 foot-tall light tower is connected to a two and a half story residence that is split into two halves.  Back in the day there were two lighthouse keepers who lived here with their families.  They'd work in twelve hour shifts.  Both sides of the residence are mirror images of each other.  The lighthouse itself was at one point closer to the bluffs. In 1993 they dragged it back 360 feet because the eroding bluffs threatened to send it tumbling into the ocean."

"How the hell do you move a lighthouse 360 feet?", I ask.  Teddy stops and turns to me...

"Very carefully..."

A few moments later we arrive at the final flight of old iron stairs that wind up along the cavernous wall of the tower towards the lantern room.

"Whatever you do- don't look down", warns Boomer.

"Yeah. Thanks", I smirk.  I should've listened to Boomer because looking down through the wrought iron staircase brings on Vertigo like you read about.  I white-knuckle the iron railing all the way up until...

We emerge into the soft green glow of the lantern room.  Surrounded by glass 258 feet above the ocean, the sun has begun to set on the other side of the island.  The clouds burst with pinks, purples, yellows and reds as a lone lobster boat bobs up and down in the distance.

"Holy fuckin' shit", is all I can manage.

"Pretty nice huh?", says Teddy.

For a couple of minutes we walk around the lens.  Looking out at the panorama. 

"Hey- is this a first order Fresnel lens with a focal plane?, I ask.

Teddy looks at Boomer impressed, "The Dr. knows his lighthouses".

I'm a little embarrassed, "Yeah- I'm kind of a lighthouse geek".

"Hey- that's cool man.  Me too.", answers Teddy.  "How do you think I got this gig?"

Boomer- getting a little bored with lighthouse talk interrupts.  "Hey Doc.  Ya know what's even cooler than being in the lantern room of a lighthouse?  Being really REALLY baked while you're in the lantern room of a lighthouse".

"Oh shit.  Right.  I almost forgot why we were here."  I reach into my jacket's breast pocket and produce my trusty pipe.  I crumble a little of the Nor-Cal Cheese in and pack it down with my thumb handing it to Teddy first.  "Bottom's up".

"Whoah.  This smells AMAZING!", Teddy laughs.

For the next half hour as the sun sets I chat with Boomer and Teddy- filling them in on my recent rise to fame as a regional superstar in Western Massachusetts.  Although I've just met these guys, I can tell that they're very nice.  Very genuine.  The conversation is lively and peppered with outbursts of stoned laughter.

Apparently, there's a beach party about to start on Scotch Beach.  Sort of a locals "start of the season" thing.  We bid the lantern room adieu and descend the treacherous staircases.  Leaving Boomer's moped behind we pile into Teddy's truck and drive off to begin the night's adventure...