Gonzo look at week of July 4 in Cayucos

July 7, 2024


Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “The ballplayer’s Son” is currently on Amazon.

July 1, Monday: It’s all about the parade!

Folks chaining together chairs and staking out territory along the parade route on Ocean Avenue. The Cayucos parade usually draws 25,000 heat-addled folks in a frenzy, and since there is a record breaking heat wave in the inland valleys, this tiny burg is a madhouse, the perennially empty newly constructed very large very boring homes are filling up and bursting with people relishing the morning fog and neutral afternoons.

Below me and around the corner beside an immense barracks-like box home are six cars in a driveway and five RV’s in the adjoining fenced in lot, mostly young people. Signs on the fence say, “WELCOME TO CAYUCOS COAST VILLAGE.”

It is set up like a camp or maybe a small village, but they are so quiet and not drinking much and I worry they are this new breed of computer nerds incapable of hurting themselves with whatever vileness they can ingest. You are at your most indestructible age and it’s 4th of July week, go for it and get fucking crazy.

Oh well, it’s only Monday

July 2, Tuesday: I am down on the 24th Sttreet beach parking lot among the lineup of the usual early morning suspects — a couple guys in big pickups studying their cell phones; a woman in an old square cheap car slouching low to do what I do not know; an old grizzled hand in an old faded van reading the paper; ancient surfers slowly donning wet suits and heading out to the somewhat tame surf with paddles; SUVs unpacking retirees with excited dogs for the long walk on the beach; a couple in a rental van step out instantly taking photos with Smart phones, talking in an European accent, and I wonder what they think of us as they sound Slavic.

It is quiet. I work a crossword. Read. Watch. Devour an apple. Lull before the storm. All is good.

July 3, Wednesday: Out early in the morning the power walking couples and zeroed-in joggers from the flat lands down south and up north stand out in bright technicolor as oddities with those faraway determined anxious eyes. They are out in force, stress merchants high stepping and caffeine-charged, sweating it out, can’t stop the overload; even their beautiful golden retrievers and labradoodles are neurotic.

I am cruising downtown and preparing to stop for a line of old folks with canes and tourists toting beach gear at the crosswalk at Cayucos Coffee when two teenage loons came weaving wide at full speed on these new motorized bikes, executing wheelies, frightening the bedraggled stragglers.

Hordes of kids from 10 to 17 zip around town on these contraptions, too lazy to pedal, spoiled spawn of terrible parenting. Mommy, daddy, why can’t I have a motorbike when all my friends have one, boohoo? Waawaa?

School boards compromised by meddling mothers protecting pussies and mollycoddles. What has happened to masculine nontoxic America when boys wanted to be men’s men and gentlemen?

Oh well, the parade is tomorrow. It’s a flood of joyous anticipation.

July 4, Thursday: First thing I do in the morning is hang from my deck an immense WWII era American flag that looks like it’s been in France in 1944 when Patton was stomping around blowing down anything in his path.

Next, from my deck, observing parking frenzy of drivers combing the streets for any space as they are late for the parade, poor things.

Then the parade. Low expectations after the once funky, zany, loony menagerie of horses and cowboys and belly dancers and all sorts of juiced local characters long ago transitioned into something hyper patriotic during the Gulf and Iraqi wars, with flags everywhere and sometime gigantic flags and military vehicles with soldiers popping off blanks; and then to a torpid Valley-driven, white-bread, goody-goody corn-ball corporate procession of vintage cars supplied by valleyites driven by elderly valleyites waving flags.

And finally to this years huge improvement in a cutesy-cutesy display of many children and dogs creative costumes, a lot of dogs, few decent floats, one catching on fire to the roar of the crowd. Sue Harlan marched by for a hug. Somebody in a 1940 something pickup flung me a T-shirt from Mike’s Barbershop in Morro Bay, a specifically old time barbershop of the 1950s when men parted their hair like JFK or sat for buzz cuts and crew cuts and pompadours.

I talked to a local lady until my feet hurt and walked and ran into neighbor Jethro who has been here over 40 years and gave the parade a grudging six out of 10, an improvement over last year, which he gave a three. He is a very mild and reasonable guy but I argued it was a seven, as people were happy and especially the kiddies.

I was pleasantly surprised and insisted the parade was a hit!

Several things went wrong with the parade, but so what, who wants perfection in a parade?

An afternoon stroll down to tent city by the pier, and on the way I noticed a home with much space on its periphery and a sign on the side advertising parking: $25 for 4 hours, $45 for all day, 16 spaces numbered in chalk, with more in the driveway. No empty spaces. Packed tight. No credit cards I’m sure. cash, baby! Cayucans need more money goddammit! There’s never enough. Capitalism in all its American Independence Day splendor and glory.

We are the all time greatest.

The house on the corner with the village of some 20 plus young people is still quiet–get with it kids! Fireworks compromised by the dense fog—like a distant fire.

Usually around 20 boats cruise in from Morro Bay, lights on, to watch the fireworks. Last night, maybe 10 at most.

July 5, Friday: Streets quiet early in the morning. Garbage haulers abound. Locals coming out of their tidy caves. A line at least 10 deep outside Cayucos Coffee, so the wall gang hits the wall and feeds the dogs.

Volunteers, young and old, flock to the beach with buckets and debris snatchers, spearing all manner of junk, though less than in the past. Junior life guards take a long run together along the beach.

Later, barbecues everywhere. People together and connecting. Streets normally sporting mostly empty houses are filled and buzzing. One big happy family.

July 6, Saturday: I’ve run into several locals, sometimes in my car, sometimes walking, and every one agrees they’ve never seen Cayucos so overrun with people. The beach is wall to wall tent city. Lines everywhere. A local entrepreneur tells me the town can’t deal with it. We are too small. We are not Cape Cod or Santa Monica.

Next door, the couple from the San Francisco area who only visit their quaint little cottage a few times a year (until they retire in two years), are packing up to leave, and tell me their week long visit was pure heaven.

I guess that’s Cayucos.


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I am an antinatalist so I have to read something like this near a container to vomit into. Why would anyone think it a good idea to breed in these times, lest a Bako or a Fresnoid?