Monday, May 15, 2006


The hidden gem of old Surf Route 101

Long-gone venacular architecture, Surf Route 101, Encinitas, California

Moonlight Bay, Encinitas, California, 1960s

Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship, opened in Encinitas during the early 1950s. Surfers saw this sitting above one of California's greatest surfing locations and (in a primitive manner) dubbed the spot "Swami's," like, "hey, that's where the swami's go!" In 1963, the Beach Boys referenced this in "Surfin' U.S.A." when they sang "at Haggerty's and Swami's" . . .

The terrain surrounding Swami's. The hills curve perfectly to create a beautiful, long ride on the waves.

Surf Route 101 became the title of the Gary Usher album for the Super Stocks, and, a different song by Jan & Dean (from their Drag City album) written by Jan Berry, Roger Christian, and Brian Wilson — featuring boss spoken interludes by Jill Gibson. Usher's Surf Route 101 album includes a song called "Oceanside," which is also nearby in San Diego County.

The Longboard Grotto is the only place you can purchase most of the independent Surf movies from the 1950s and 1960s discussed in the article "Cat on a Hot Foam Board" from Dumb Angel #4: All Summer Long. They definitely deserve a plug . . . it's to your benefit; call (760) 634-1920 . . . or reach them at

The La Paloma Theater is where the Crawdaddys used to go see The T.A.M.I. Show . . . it has operated as an underground theater for years.

An excellent Psychedelic boutique with lots of Mod gear exists today in the heart of Surf Route 101, Encinitas

Flashbacks has done a great job with the design of their store posters and logos . . . a definite point of interest (and where I bought that Waltah Clarke shirt seen on the 2004 Ear Candy website).

There are two outstanding Taco joints on Surf Route 101 in Encinitas. Karina's stands out because they make their own fantastic sauce, the shredded beef is bitchen, and they havea nice, hard shell. They also own a refreshing fruit smoothie shack right next door . . . all home made. But, as Geetz Romo said on the How to Speak Hip album, “Juiceheads are the lowest, man.”

Juanitas Taco Shop is a bit more popular with the locals in Encinitas, and was featured on Huell Howser's PBS television show California's Gold. The sauce is in no way comparable to Karina's, but, they make up for it with heavy doses of cheeze, lettuce, meat and a nice, crackly shell.

Superb coffeehouse Panakin is spacious, relaxed, and rests inside an old, wooden train station. Artist Mary Fleener, Folk singer Cindy Lee Berryhill, and author (plus '60s editor of Crawdaddy! magazine) Paul Williams are some of Dumb Angel's fave rave local residents in the Encinitas / Leucadia area.

Pre-Panakin still exists on Surf Route 101

We need more Cheese-cut architecture like this in the world.

This Modrian-logo booze shack sells a great, independent trail mix inside.

The ideal place for dry-cleaning your threads

Uh-oh . . . yes, it's an irony-bored trailer park next to a '70s salty sea dog-themed restaurant-bar . . . if you're only here for the beer.

Lou's has always been one of the best record shops in the San Diego area. This, too, can be found on old Surf Route 101, as well as some great health food restaurants, and some wonderfully-refurbished Motor Hotels on the North side of Encinitas (in Leucadia).

Without a doubt, Ducky Waddles is the most interesting book store / art gallery in the San Diego area.

Dumb Angel #4: All Summer Long will soon host an art show here featuring Mike Dormer (Hot Curl, Shrimpenstein!), Frank Holmes (the 1966 Smile album cover) plus John McCambridge and Jay Nelson of Mollusk Surf Shop in San Francisco (see January blog). Live Surf instrumentals will be provided by the Sand Devils, a San Diego combo who wow'd 'em this year at Tiki Oasis.

Art, architecture, Burlesque . . . u-name-it cool, Ducky Waddles can match any book joint in New York, San Francisco or L.A. for a groovy presentation and content . . . it's that good.



Dumb Angel is back with our fourth installment of Newport/Balboa coolness. This month, dig on some classic imagery from Corona Del Mar — a Modernist community that sits along a half-mile sandy beach framed by cliffs and a rock jetty to form the east entrance of Newport Harbor. Corona Del Mar is also a popular area for surfing and diving (see review below for Thump, a film about Corona Del Mar's famous bodysurfing spot, the Wedge). Also, more recent finds from Balboa music venues like the Prison of Socrates and the Rendezvous Ballroom.

Just above Balboa Island lies the untouched 1950s Modern residential community of Corona Del Mar

Arial view of the vintage coastline settlement

The tides of Corona Del Mar roll in around a set of jagged rocks. This low-angle postcard suggests the Noir elements of the sea were captured perfectly with nautical blues numbers by the Stan Kenton Orchestra, such as "Taboo," "Lamento Gitano," and "Reed Rapture" (all recorded locally at the Rendezvous Ballroom between 1941-42).

More rugged Corona Del Mar terrain, 1960s; close enough to land's end for teenage adventure

Overhead view of the popular public beach; the Balboa Jetty to the left is where civilization last saw Gilligan, the Skipper, Tina Louise and the rest of the castaways. The Wedge lies just to the other side of the Jetty.

Chillin' by the groovy beach pads in Corona Del Mar, 1960s

A scene from an episode of Where The Action Is, shot in Corona Del Mar in 1965.

Thump is the only film I know of so far that is solely devoted to the Wedge, a famous bodysurfing spot in the Newport-Balboa-Corona Del Mar area, which Bruce Brown dubbed "The Dirty ol' Wedge" in his 1965 indie-surf flick, The Endless Summer. But before you slide Thump into your DVD player, be sure to que up the grittiest LP of surf instrumental garage music you have in your collection. Try the Crossfires . . . no, better yet . . . the Original Surfaris. Yeah, okay . . . now grab that TV remote control, hit the "mute" button, drop the needle on your record player and press "play" on the DVD. Because here's the bad news, folks . . . Thump is a near-nauseating compilation of whimpy punk-pop and heavy metal that sits behind some seriously mesmerizing footage of the Wedge. The most egregius section of this film — titled "Super-Size It!" — marries a set of amazing surfers riding perfect big waves to a backdrop of death metal music. Adding insult to injury, the title card suggests that a McDonald's happy meal slogan best sums up the magic of the Wedge. Some of us know better than to swallow that pill. Don't say I didn't warn you . . . but also don't be disuaded from buying Thump either. With a little imagination, you can make this footage work to your advantage. (Thump is available at the Balboa Pharmacy).

Mark 56 Records was best known for the 1966 Surf instrumental album Real Cool Hits by the Avengers VI (sponsored by Good Humor Ice Cream). The label released LPs for businesses who wanted to advertise via vinyl. L.A. grocery store Alpha Beta sponsored this '40s nostalgia disc, with cheezy artwork namechecking Swing-era ballrooms of the Greater Los Angeles area. Balboa is represented by a prominent showing for the Rendezvous Ballroom, with the Balboa Beach Ballroom right above it. Also included are Huntington Beach's Pavalon Ballroom, Anaheim's Harmony Park Ballroom (like the Rendezvous, later a Dick Dale & his Del-Tones venue during the '60s), The Hollywood Palladium, The Pasadena Civic Auditorium, The Glendale Civic Auditorium, The Biltmore Bowl and the Trianon . . . wait . . . where is the Palomar Ballroom? ("On Third and Vermont," say the echos of Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa and Anita O'Day).

Fuck A Mighty Wind . . . dig Fink Records recording artist Susan Rennaker going it alone at the Prison of Socrates in Balboa. You can see her in the film Dirty Feet, playing one night only at Sponto Gallery in Venice on July 19, as the feature of Dumb Angel's "Beatnik Beach" film event.



One of our readers asked us about the recent national articles covering the controversy surrounding the "official" location of Surf City in Southern California. The naming convention had been the subject of a public squabble between Orange County's Huntington Beach (where Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean resides) and the town of Santa Cruz to the north.

In the end, the town of Huntington Beach secured a federal trademark to use the phrase "SURF CITY USA" as a marketing slogan and money-making venture for Huntington Beach.

It's a controversial subject . . . but in the end, it's much ado about nothing. Huntington Beach (mentioned in the Jan & Dean song "Surf Route 101") gets to use the phrase "SURF CITY USA" to help sell products and make money for the town, and for Dean Torrence and others connected with the #1 smash single by Jan & Dean from 1963.

Despite the controversy, it's important for people to understand that it's merely a marketing ploy, and that the song (by Jan Berry and Brian Wilson) was not written about Huntington Beach, or any other specific location in Southern California.

This means that the town of Santa Cruz can indeed continue to use the moniker "Surf City" in marketing its various establishments associated with the SoCal beach culture.

And it's a safe bet that the town of Huntington Beach will not go after the beach towns on the East Coast which were incorporated as "Surf City" long before the 1960s, and long before the famous Jan & Dean song was written.

What's in a name? . . . It just depends on where you live and who you know.

To read more about this issue, be sure to check our "Comments" section, linked at the end of this blog.

To learn more about our forthcoming Jan Berry / Jan & Dean tribute album, please visit our site on MySpace:



ward jenkins said...

Does "DAG" have any comments regarding the Santa Cruz VS Huntington Beach SURF CITY ruling?

Apparently Huntington Beaqch now has the right to promote itself as SURF CITY


Mark A. Moore said...

Well, Huntington Beach can only use their trademark for the phrase "Surf City USA" . . . which means that Santa Cruz can still use the moniker "Surf City" in their town, as well.

Not to mention the fact that there were towns on the East Coast that were incorporated as Surf City long before the 1960s and Jan & Dean's song (which was not about a real place).

You know, the argument is rather funny. Dean Torrence supports Huntington Beach, because he lives there. But Santa Cruz has the biggest waves.

Not only that, but Santa Cruz gave us the wetsuit too, right? Well, what does it say in the song?

"I'll strap my board to my back and hitch a ride in my wetsuit" . . . Hmmmm, which tells us that our fictional surfers in the song were surfing where the water was cold . . . Somewhere like Santa Cruz.

Long story short . . . it's just a marketing ploy (supported by its hometown resident, Dean Torrence, who stands to make money from the venture). And why not?

But the song was not written about Huntington Beach (or any other specific place).

Mark A. Moore

Brian Chidester said...

Santa Cruz is also the place where three Hawaiian royals visited in 1885 and surfed for the first time in the US.

becky said...

I like the Noah's Ark diner postcard. Uh, is that organic rice or mouse poop on my plate?

Matt said...

It's a beautiful day here in Santa Cruz. Take a cruise by Pleasure Point or Steamer Lane and you'll certainly feel like you're in Surf City.

A DAG article on Santa Cruz would be cool. Hey, The Tikis/Harper's Bizarre came from here. That's something.

Domenic Priore said...

Last year, when Brian Chidester and I screened some films at Sponto Gallery in Venice, the question came up about "Surf City"... should Santa Cruz get the name, or Huntington Beach. My answer was that Huntington Beach did not deserve the name, primarily because they tore down all of the buildings that might have given that claim legitimacy. Most importantly, there was the Golden Bear, one of the coolest clubs ever to grace the Greater L.A. area, and unique anywhere really, right across from the pier. Man, I saw the Byrds, the Surfaris, Dick Dale & his Del-Tones (pre-Tribal Dunder) there....even the Runaways. Then, they tore down the Surf Theater, where for years, all they showed were surfing movies. The original block 1 of Main Street was a nexus of vintage Surf shops that went back to the '50s... with huge, 1950s photo blowups above the counters of tremendous waves in black 'n' white; so cool. When the pier was redesigned after a huge storm, it lost it's original look too... it used to remind me of the colesium in Rome. The Pavalon Ballroom is now Duke's, so there's one Kahanamoku trade-off... I'd still rather see Eddie & the Showmen with Kathy Marshall there. Finally, in the CNN Report, Dean Torrence claims to be a co-writer of "Surf City" and therefore that makes the whole thing legit. The city of Huntington Beach, the courts, and CNN didn't bother to fact check this simple musical fact; the song was written by Jan Berry and Brian Wilson. Add to all this, that Huntington Surf & Sport, which originally carried Dumb Angel #4: All Summer Long and sold out real quick... BANNED the publication for some early '60s nudity... most-likely a case of homophobia about the Stud magazine cover we used near the end, and some Tiki Tease gal shots. Jack's Surfboards also refused to carry us after the first quick sellout. It's the only city that's banned us! Dumb Angel is more popular in New York City than Huntington Beach. Besides, Jan & Dean cut their "Surf City" video (seen on the television show Surf Scene, from 1963, the very year the song hit) with Dale Davis at Malibu... and Malibu was the most famous '60s surfing beach, hands down (Dora knew). Huntington Beach is too square and right wing. We say "no" to Huntington Beach, despite all my great memories of that place during the '60s and even the '70s. Bah!

Domenic Priore

Domenic Priore said...

Oh, did I mention... the Huntington Beach Pier/Main Street area looks like DOGSHIT now...

Total crap architecture... with pro-Bush people all around it... replaced everything that was once genius. Bohemian surfers? Gone! Today, there's just a lot of red on that neck in HB.

Thanks, City of Huntington Beach!

Domenic Priore

Billy Hinsche said...

Dom --- great link...........................I lived in Oceanside for 14 yrs. prior to Vegas, so pix were VERY cool of Encinitas.

Ant Bee said...

Very cool!

David Leaf said...


David Leaf

Gary Pig Gold said...

I always wondered who/what/where "Swami's" was !!

Thank You AGAIN, DP, for solving yet another one;

talk to yez sooooon sir,

Gary Pig Gold

Ron said...


I've been keeping up on your travels, memorabilia and events thru the Dumb Angel blog. You guys are doing a very, very nice job with it. Most impressive and fun to read. Keep it up.


Brent Walker said...

Brilliant stuff as usual....

Regarding Encinitas, there's also those boat-shaped apartments from the 1920's/30's "California Crazy" era.

A correction regarding the Gilligan's Island opening was shot at Alamitos Bay yacht harbor in Long Beach (at the LA/Orange County line), not Newport. However, so many great other things were filmed in Newport/Balboa harbor, from Buster Keaton and Mack Sennett comedies in the 1920's, to the great film noir THE BREAKING POINT with John Garfield, to Disney's THE BOATNIKS (when I was in Sea Scouts there in the 70's they still had the scout canoe used in that film).

Tony Suarez said...

when i go to the beach, i go to Swami's. I head out to Encinitas for the woody show every year and tool aroundon my lambretta.

Great postcards.....

We're always at the swaps, if you need postcards, lemme know what cities you need for arty-clies.


Tony Suarez

Steve Barilotti said...

Qwite Kool.

Like seeing my hood through a Viewmaster. Frames and give it

Steve Barilotti
Surfer magazine

Art Fein said...

In 1980 I went to NYC and carried the 1950s with me.

At noon I saw Julius LaRosa cook the world's biggest pizza at Gimbels.

At 7 I went to Marty's and saw a matinee by Mel Torme.

At 10:00 I went to the Latin Quarter and saw Senor Wences.

Your portrait of California today contains the same sense of reality.

Art Fein

Anonymous said...

The Corona del Mar jetty has nothing to do with the Wedge. CdM jetty is on the East side of the entrance to Newport Harbor. 250 feet away on the West side of the channel is the Balboa jetty. On the West side of this jetty where the surf meets the beach is the infamous Wedge where I made many Body and Boat rescues over the years of 1959- 1978 with the Harbor Patrol. I grew up on the Main beach of C.d.M..

Brian Chidester said...

Well, our caption doesn't say anything about the Corona Del Mar jetty being near the Wedge. It actually says that the Wedge is just west of the "Balboa" jetty, just as you stated. Read it again. I think we're saying the same thing.

warm jet said...

"surf city" is a stupid moniker anyway.whoever wants it can have it.
It does'nt make it true.
Lets just try to keep more squares away from the surf legacy.It's way too late, I know.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Brian, excellent stuff. I really enjoy your retrospectives on California’s amazing surfing history. I was down at the Wedge a couple of weeks ago, on a good south swell it is still one of the most amazing (and bone crushing) breaks in the world.

Joe Romersa said...

Very cool what you're doin', guys!

One suggestion...

It's taking a long time to load... you might want to split up some of your subjects with links going to separate page.

Joe Romersa
Shadow Box Studio

Chris Allen said...

Thanks for the new blog! It sounds like you guys had a fun party last... wish I could've made it.


Joel said...

Excellent work guys. I look forward to future installments.

Also, I know its not surf, but have you guys heard Tom Russell's Hotwalker? Great old California lore on that disc, and I bet many of your readers would dig it.

Domenic Priore said...


Steve Barilotti of Surfer Magazine turned me on to that Tom Russell CD... oh, yeh. Crucial noir.

Domenic Priore

Elliot Kendall said...

Brian - GENIUS stuff !!! I always love rolling down to San Diego and digging Encinitas...

California Feelin'

EK :)

Otto Von Stroheim said...

Hi Guys,

Next year's Tiki Oasis will happen Aug 16 - 19 at the Hanalei...

... near Swami's.