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: