6 – Blog 30 – Wipeout

I am back at my desk at Universal by early afternoon. Jay is checked into the Ambassador Hotel in the mid-Wilshire district.  I call him.

“You know Bobby Kennedy was killed there?”

“Hi, Tim. How are you?”

“Better, now that I’m back at work. I failed to tell you I was on a location trip in Oregon. I just got back.”

“You said you’re working 18 hours a day. I figured you’d be happy to see me.”

“I always am. Can you come up to Universal Studios, or do you want to meet there?”

“Tell me what we need to get done. We’ll get started.”

He needs to meet with Universal’s legal staff over production issues. He asks me to get Joan and Tom to meet him in my office before jointly meeting with Bronfman on their contract issues. Finally, he and Doug need to meet with Otis and tie down his contract. It will be a busy couple of days. I suggest we have dinner with Jake Stern and discuss the terms of his work on the score. All these meetings should have been scheduled before he arrived. My being on a road trip means we will be scrambling. We agree to first meet with the studio people to establish a good working relationship before any real negotiating. I get on the phone while he takes a cab to Studio City.

“Hi, boyfriend,” he greets me, walking into Landis’s office which I have taken over. “Are you the Director now,” he points to the sign on the door.

“I’m the Great Pretender.”

“Please don’t sing that song.”

“No. I’m all work today. I did sing several times in Oregon. I’m now an official frat boy. Who better to do a frat movie?”

“What are our marching orders?”

“We need to meet with the Universal Legal Department and go over the contracts we can use with actors, musicians, and publishing houses. I set up a dinner with the composer. You’ll like him. He’s an actual adult.”

“I guess your days as Max deBowser are over. You have to deal with adults, like the legal department.”

“That’s your job.”

“You seem to need to control all aspects.”

“Just learning the business.”

“The latest 18-year-old movie mogul. I hear you’re in the Harvard Business Review.”

“Really. I didn’t know it was published.” I know Seth will be pleased. I had totally forgotten him.

“Yeah. We got a check. Mike wasn’t happy he didn’t know about it.”

“Oh, well. Someone has to be in control of me. When we first started the band, I felt he was my substitute-dad.”

“He’s a great dad.”

“Let’s talk about the artists.”

“Joan Jett, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Otis Day and Doug Weston, your composer friend, Jake Stern, and then, all the actors not already signed, including extras. The production company will hire the crew. Everyone has to be under contract, even you.”

“You’ll be here for weeks.”

“No, my wife’s due soon. You and Landis will do the hiring. I’m here to get the paperwork straight, so all you’ll have to do is get signatures.”

“You’re boring me.”

“Good. Paperwork is boring. Wait until you need to fire someone or make them do their job. It’s all in how the paperwork is written.”

“Okay. Okay. Let’s go meet the suits. 

A panel of three lawyers meet us in their conference room.

I can tell they are not impressed with our team, an eighteen-year-old and a twenty-something barely out of law school. They pass a large stack of contract documents, each many pages long. Jay hands them our proposed contracts, none more than a single page each. The legal eagles snort and only briefly peruse the first one. Jay reads through several of theirs, while they wait for our approval. Finally he slides their documents back to them.

“These contracts don’t meet our needs. Morals clauses, drug policies, dress codes, etc won’t work with the staff we plan to hire. Everyone will work on an ‘as needed’ basis, subject to ‘at will’ termination. All these potential causes for termination are redundant. We don’t need cause to fire someone.”

“Is that what they’re teaching in law school now?’ one of the suits sneers.

“Yes, but it is also standard practice now, even here in California.”

“I assume you’re licensed to practice law in California.”

“I’ve passed the bar in New York and California, as well as in Florida. Entertainment law is my specialty.”

That shuts them up.

“Jesus,” the senior lawyer exclaims, “we’re not going to war over some B movie for kids. Just accept our boiler plate forms.”

“I didn’t spend all this time creating modern contracts to use your outdated ones.”

They argue for several minutes before the suits give up.

“You should review section IV in the production company contract about final control of the creative material. There should be no question on both sides on our control of the final editing product,” Jay warns them.

They shuffled the contracts and quickly read the article that gives Landis total control of the movie.

“There’s no way we’re giving up final cut to a young director.”

Jay turns to me, “How have your discussions with other studios been going? You told me Universal was threatening to pull the plug after tabloid reports about the main star.”

“Paramount loves us. We had a knockdown, dragged-out fight at United Artists but in the end I was declared the winner,” I stretch the truth, in true-Hollywood style.

The suits are in shock. “We need to take this to the executive board. How long are you in town?”

“I have another day of meetings with artists I represent. Landis will be back. I know he is just as adamant about total control. He can discuss your decision. I have to be back in Miami before the end of the week. I work for Michael Antonio, as well my entertainment clients.”

Mike Sr.’s name gets their attention. We are not some small town lawyers. It is already known that Mike is running for Miami Mayor.

The suits get up and leave the room without saying goodbye. I am worried.

“We got their attention,” Jay reassures me. “They’d only be polite if they thought they had bamboozled us.”

No bamboozling allowed on our side, just the teenage Jay & Max team.

No time to celebrate. We next meet with Edgar Jr. He knows me too well to be bamboozled.

“How did the legal department treat you,” he asks.

“They walked out when we demanded total control for Landis,” Jay answers before I have a chance to introduce him.

“Good for you,” Edgar, the creative guy, is on our side.

“Call your dad,” I suggest.

Edgar shakes his head. “I can handle it.”

“We want you to sign Joan and Tom,” Jay put us all on a first-name basis.

“Yeah. Tim’s been bugging me. I can be their agent.’

“We already represent them,” Jay establishes the situation, “Tim says you’re creating a record label here at Universal.”

“I’ve decided to acquire established, smaller labels to create a group.”

“Don’t you want some successful artists of your own,” I pipe up.

“Like Elton John? Of course.”

“That isn’t going to happen. You need up-and-comers, not someone who wants a big paycheck for their back catalog,” I advise.

“Jesus, kid. This is the big time. When did you grow big balls. What happened to your partner? At least I can talk to him.”

“Why? Because you both went to Collegiate? He’s in college. I don’t need four years of lectures to know what music is going to sell – same as you, ”

Edgar and Jay both burst out laughing.

“I’ve learned not to underestimate you. What’s the whole story with Joan and Tom?”

“We’re hiring them as PAs on the movie so they’ll learn enough about film production to create videos that people will actually want to see, over and over again, like 45s used to be.”

“The voice of the future,” Jay backs me up.

“You need to buy their contracts. Their current labels have given up on them.”

“I’m trying to acquire labels, not steal their talent, only to end up owning them anyway,” Edgar has a point.

“This is just like the movie. We want you to give the talent creative control. The whole business is run by lawyers and accountants. (sorry, Jay) What makes dollars and sense doesn’t create the best product.”

Edgar thinks for two seconds and smiles. “You’re right. But you negotiate with their labels and I’ll pay the buyouts. We’ll keep Joan and Tom busy with the movie until I get the Universal Music Group established. You want to be my legal department, Jay?”

“I’ll represent you. I can’t leave Mike. He’s connected.”

“I understand. You can represent me until all these negotiations are done.” They swap business cards. It seems so adult to me. Looks like I’ve found a multi-million-dollar client for Mike Sr.

“Let’s do dinner,” Edgar suggests.

“We’re meeting with my composer at Musso & Frank’s tonight. You’ll like him. He’s twice our ages. Meet us there at six-thirty.”

Jay and I walk back to my office. Joan and Tom are in deep conversation, waiting for us. I assume it is about drugs. Luckily, they are too broke to afford any. I kiss Joan and introduced her as my girlfriend. Jay looks worried but turns his attention to Tom, his long-lost friend from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Gainesville.

“How’s Mudcrutch doing,” he asks.

“We’re now the Heartbreakers. How’d the meeting go with Universal?”

“Excellent. Bronfman agreed to buy out your contracts. You’ll be the first artists on his Universal label while he acquires small labels like Shelter. You’ll get paid to work on Tim’s movie to learn how to make music videos from your songs. Just don’t tell anyone until everything’s set. Shelter can’t know Bronfman’s stealing their artists while he’s acquiring them.”

“More Hollywood lawyer bullshit,” Tom knows. Joan nods. They don’t want to know anything more than necessary.

“You’re Tim’s girlfriend?” Jay is surprised. He turns to me, “What about Jack.”

“He’s still learning to appreciate girls.”

“What about me?” Jay is confused. “I thought we were crushing?”

“You’re married and pregnant. You’re off the market, no matter how horny you get.”

“You like girls now? How does that work?”

“He’s in love with my dildo.” Joan jokes.

“That explains everything,” Tom has a clue.

“Enough about me. Sign these contracts, so you can get paid. Then go out and score,” I take charge.

They quickly sign and take their copies to the finance department to try to get advances.

I send a long fax to Landis at the Rodeway Inn, detailing our discussions and the status of negotiations. It is a long day. I finally call Jake, explaining the change of our dinner date to a business meeting. I promise an extended sex session after we are done with the suits. He is excited about discussing his score with Bronfman, whom he considers an artist’s agent. I tell him to drink Canadian Club at dinner.

I drive Jay to the Ambassador and go up to his room.

“I guess I feel more comfortable now that you’re straight,” he jokes.

I grab him and kiss him on the cheek.

“Not that straight.”

We laugh.

“That’s the old Max deBowser, I love.”

“Don’t be too disappointed. I’m saving you for your wife.”

“Let’s go see where Kennedy was shot.”

“I don’t think they give tours of the kitchen,” I warn.

“We’ll find our own way.”

One kiss and his spirit of adventure is born. We do not find the way to the kitchen. We do locate the Coconut Grove nightclub. A security guard stops us from going further. I tell the guard that we are scouting locations for a live music performance. He contacts the catering and special events planner takes us on a tour. The stage area is perfect for a dance band, like on the ‘I Love Lucy’ show. I visualize The Weirdos playing to a thousand screaming fans, enough to wake the dead, possibly even Bobby Kennedy. Jay and I sit there at a dance floor dinner table discussing my fantasies.

“No interest in bringing the old band out here?”

“My musical tastes have evolved. ‘False Gods’ is really a cover band.”

“You wrote your own songs, about your lives in Coral Gables. It was true to your roots.”

“Right, entitled rich kids.”

“It was pretty exciting.”

“I got so upset when the police shot Max.”

“You still upset?”

“He’s another ghost in my life. He now hangs out with my Dad’s new puppy.”

“You are so weird.”

I do not dispute that. It is time to go to Musso & Frank’s. It is a quiet Tuesday night, so we get one of the premium leather banquettes. A photographer for Variety comes by, before the others arrive, asking who we are, in Hollywood terms. I explain that it is a business meeting about the music for ‘Animal House.’ The paparazzi writes down all the attendees. I am pleased to be appearing in the Hollywood press.

Edgar arrives, noting, “You’ve learned how to score a decent table.”

“It’s a quiet night,” I explain.

Jake soon joins us. He slides in next to me and gives me a modest kiss.  Jay takes note and smiles. Edgar just shakes his head, good Canadian that he is. He is happier when Jake and I both order Seven and Sevens. No one asks me for an ID. Normally a strictly beer consumer, I talk a mile a minute, touting Seagram’s Seven as a social lubricant. The adults sit back and enjoy my lack of social manners. Jay and Edgar discuss the upcoming visits to different music labels, to which Edgar wants Jay to accompany him. Jake and I go over the scores to several Greek operas we want to use for melodies and leitmotifs. Edgar is soon spouting his operatic knowledge which seems limited to strictly German, especially Wagner.

“Aren’t you Jewish” I ask.

“Now that Hitler’s gone, it’s okay to spout Goethe’s Man and Superman philosophy.”

“I think some other studio is doing ‘Superman’ this year. Jerry Goldsmith is doing the music,” Jake pipes up.

“No. They’ve hired John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra. I doubt Universal will pay that level of costs,” Edgar belittles our B movie budget.

“I plan to steal certain themes from operas already in the public domain.”

“That’s more like it.”

They go back and forth, as Jay and I enjoy their creative ideas. I just want a cheap soundtrack, heavy on early rock n roll hits.

I describe the various main characters and how they relate to Greek mythic characters. Everyone loves the drunken Dean’s wife as Medusa or Clytemnestra or even Electra. We are having a second round of drinks and become slightly boisterous. The photographer is taking photos without us noticing. Finally we order our meal. The conversation becomes more inclusive.

Jay asks, “How did you meet Tim?”

We both laugh.

“I picked him up in the library,” Jake answers honestly but omits that the library is in a gay club.

“He’s tutoring me on classical music. I’ve been corrupting him with rock n roll.”

“I flew to Miami and attended his five-hour performance at a Globe Theater replica in Coral Gables.”

“I was there,” Jay notes. “That’s my boss’s house. He plans to have Tim as godparent for his first grandchild.”

“Mike Antonio?” Edgar asks. “Isn’t he running for Mayor.”

“He hasn’t announced yet.”

What a small world it is. I can’t help myself and sing the Disneyland ride theme song.

Jake and I finally escape our new and old friends. Jay is trapped with Edgar, his new client, for further drinking at the restaurant bar. Jake took a cab to the restaurant. It is a warm night for January as we ride in the Wreck with the top down. The Santa Ana winds are blowing. Before we get to Jake’s, he tells me to continue up Western into Griffith  Park. We stop at the Observatory and sit on the car’s hood, our arms around each other, looking out at the LA basin below us.

“I heard that the telescope no longer works due to the light pollution,” I remark.

“It still works. It’s just outdated.”

“Like someone I know,” I kid him.

He laughs and proceeds to kiss me passionately. His sex appeal is not out of date. We are down the hill soon at his apartment. It seems like forever that were apart, less than a week. I am being sentimental. I let him take the lead, giving in to his kisses and letting him lift me and pull me into the bedroom.  He lays me on my back and proceeds to sit on the rigid shaft sticking straight up. I guess he missed my cucumber dick.   Maybe he has been practicing because he slides easily down its wide eight inch shaft. As he bounces up and down, I just roll with the punches, holding on to his stiff dick as if it is a saddle pommel. It does not take long for him to orgasm all over me, his butt squeezing and releasing in bursts.  Once he relaxes, I roll him off, throw his legs up into the air and fuck him thoroughly with long, powerful thrusts.

“I love it,” he shouts.

“Say it again,” I answer.

“I love it. I love it. I love it.”

I am on my knees, holding his butt off the bed, going in and out as fast as I can. All of a sudden, some primal urge takes over. I am fucking at twice what I had thought was my fastest pace. I am out of control. Jake’s head is banging against the headboard. I cannot stop. He is screaming. I am in a panic, thinking I am hurting him. Still I cannot stop. With one final thrust I cum, jerking with each eruption deep inside Jake. I collapse. He continues to moan. He has cum again. Finally I am able to control myself.

“I’m so sorry. So sorry,” I cry. “I was hurting you,” I wail.

“Don’t ever stop. That’s the best fucking I’ve ever had,” he cuddles me, wiping away my tears.

I cannot stop crying.

“You fucked my brains out,” Jake crows. “I loved it.”

“Really?” I whimper.

“You are too sensitive,” he remonstrates. “What happened to the superficial teenager I love.”

“You love me.”

“Jesus, Tim. Calm down. Last time we fucked, you couldn’t stop shaking. This time you’re crying. It feels like child abuse.”

I laugh, the tears still rolling down my cheeks. “No, it was more like elder abuse on my part.”

“We’re both criminals,” he declares. “I need another drink.”

We sit naked on his patio, drinking seven and sevens – all part of the Seagram family.

I wake up with a mild hangover. It is already nine. My country wake-up time is fading fast. I call the studio and leave a message for Landis (if he checks in) that I am taking a day off. Jake and I have coffee on his patio. It helps. The Santa Ana’s are still blowing. The view across downtown LA is crystal clear. It is warm and getting warmer.

“Beach day?” I ask.

“Perfect,” he does not have a job to which he has to report. “Wait, here. I have a surprise.”

He comes back with a rectangular box with VOIT on the side.

“I was told you should use these in the surf.”

They are swim fins, blue with solid heel straps.

“We’re going to the beach,” he declares.

I kiss him as thanks. He makes me so happy. Although, I believe I am such a great swimmer, I do not need the fins.

We drive to Du-Par’s on Ventura Boulevard for their pancakes. Jake just has coffee, so I finish his flapjacks, or as I rename them, ‘flapin’ jakes.’ It is really hot in the Valley at just 10 am. We drive up Laurel Canyon and turn west on Mulholland Drive. When we are close to Deadman’s Curve, I speed up. Jake whoops and hollers as we skid around the twisty road. He can act crazy, too. I slow down and we stop at the overlook. We make out for a couple of minutes, until another car pulls into the parking area. We calm down. It is another hour’s drive to the Kanen Road turnoff and descent to Zuma Beach. Jake promises to take me back to the gay Mexican Restaurant in Santa Monica after our day at the beach.

The sand is so hot on our feet, that we run all the way to the water’s edge. We cool our feet off in the cold water. The air is approaching 100 degrees while the water is barely 60. Finally sitting on the wet sand, I look out at the breaking waves. They are much bigger than the last time. Jake explains that in the winter, the North Pacific experiences massive winter storms. The swells travel thousands of miles before breaking on west-facing California beaches.

“That wave has traveled all this way just to end on this beach?”

“It doesn’t just stop. They crash with tremendous force and energy. You be careful out there.”

“I look out and see an approaching swell, 3 dark lines of deeper water moving toward us.   I can’t tell how large the faces of the waves are. Suddenly a single board surfer appears from the right, paddling furiously with his arms and hands to stay ahead of the approaching wave. As the wave peaks and begins to crest, the surfer jumps to his feet and points the board across the face of the wave. He seems to be dropping straight down, with a trail from his wake following him. He continues down the face of the wave which is massive in relation to his six-foot frame. It looks like he’s being chased by a three-story house. He rides faster and faster to stay ahead of the approaching monster, a faceless ogre trying to chew him up. Before he reaches the bottom of the wave he turns upward, allowing the wave to catch up. Then he turns downward again, gaining enough speed to out-race the implacable wave that never changes speed.  Finally the wave seems to lose energy and the surfer goes back over the top, flying over the wave with his surfboard falling loosely below him. He drops ten feet into the water behind the dying wave. A wave of sorrow sweeps over me for the defeat of this aquatic monster. Traveling all that distance for days, only to be defeated by a minuscule human on a plastic board. I watch the conquering hero reemerge from the ocean he dropped into, retrieving his board and paddling northwest to challenge the next monster.

I am totally exhilarated. I have to get out there. Jake hands me my new fins. He warns me not to go where the surfer was. It’s too dangerous and without a board, the waves will easily swallow me. I notice that after these monsters break far from shore, they reform where I bodysurfed before. Not as huge and dangerous. I believe I can master these reformed monsters.

I strap on the fins and awkwardly duck-walk into the water. My ankles ache and balls shrink into my belly, knowing what shock is soon to come. When the water is up to my knees, small shore break waves sweep over me. I dive in face first. The shock of cold water is intense. All the nerves on my face contract in agony. I have an ice cream headache all over my head. I know to keep my blood pumping by swimming strongly. It becomes hard to breathe, the cold shocking my heart and lungs. I am suddenly fearful for my life. I roll over and look back at Jake. He looks concerned. I wave and shout, ‘It’s really cold.”

He yells to come back to shore. I shake my head and roll over, stroking fast and firmly  to keep my circulation going. It’s what I need to stay alive. I feel like a primitive man, facing unknown and deadly danger. I know I am alive.

It takes a while to reach the ‘outside’ where the reforming waves are cresting. Before getting there, I duck dive under the white water. The first few times, I fail to go deep enough. The swirling whitewash grabs me and pushes me ten yards back toward the beach. I need to dive deep enough to escape their reach. After several waves I have lost almost all the distance I swam. Finally I learn to go as deep as possible. On the sandy bottom, I use my hands to grasp the hard sand, keeping myself from being pulled backwards. As soon as the roaring wave passes overhead, I push-off the bottom, quickly reaching the surface. I am able to gasp several breaths before the next rush of whitewater hits me. I dive to the bottom again. The next time I come up, I’m able to take several arm strokes to move further outside. I dive again and this time I crawl a yard or so on the sandy bottom before popping up. I am making progress. The elation gives me strength. I forget about the headache and the numbing cold. After about ten minutes I reach a dead zone. The swells come through but don’t crest and break again. I hear the thunderous roar as they crash ten yards inside of where I bob. I have defeated them. I am safe.

Suddenly I see a bigger swell approaching. I calculate it will crash before it reaches me. I thrash my arms and sprint as fast as possible, head down and not breathing. I feel the extra push from the fins Jake gave me. ‘Thank you, Jake.’ I look up in time to catch my breath and see how the wave is forming, which makes me think of Safety’s   band ‘Forming’. They will never know this thrill. I am no longer fearful for my life. I am exultant. The wave is going to pass me by. As it lifts me above the fray I see two additional waves closely following. Again I feel they will tumble me if I don’t move further outside. I thrash and sprint to safety. Finally, there’s a break. I’m far from shore. Jake is a stick figure on the beach,  still watching and probably still worried. I raise my arm and wave. He waves back. I feel a sense of relief in the confidence of his waving.

Floating on my back, I rest until my breathing returns to normal. I realize I am no longer cold. I am pumped from the exertion and exhilaration. I look up the coast. In front of the cliffs on the shore, the waves are breaking far outside. I catch a glimpse of the skilled board surfer. He’s testing waves far bigger than test me. It takes brazen confidence to ride and conquer these monsters. I steel myself to actually challenge the mini-monsters that I face on the inside break. A line of three swells approaches. I begin to estimate where they will crest and break. I am safe enough outside. When the first one approaches, I turn and stroke to match its speed. I am too slow. It passes me by. The next one approaches, just as fast. This time I use my new fins, kicking as strongly as possible. I feel the wave lift me up above the water in front of us, the mini-monster and me. I feel it momentarily slow and lift me higher as it crests. I perch on the edge of the lip. The distance to the water below seems immense, at least the height from my window at home to the ground below. I chicken out, pulling back at the last-minute, and sliding down the backside of the wave. As if to mock my challenge, I’m now inside the breaking point of the third wave. It crashes on top of me, sending me spinning to the bottom and bouncing off the sand with a hard thump to my shoulder. “Shit.” I come up gasping for breath. Sure enough, another set is lining up to crush me. I swim furiously into their faces, diving under the breaking lips. On the third wave, I dive into rather than under the wave. I take two butterfly kicks and a butterfly pull, exiting the back of the wave, and flying completely out of the water. “Did Jake see that?’ I look back. He is standing still, hands on hips, willing me to come in. It’s my first ride, except it went 180 degrees in the wrong direction. I hear a thunderous crash and roar as the wave finally breaks.

Should I go in? Maybe I can ride some of those inside waves that I easily passed through on my way to the outside. Jake is yelling at me to give up. I am not prepared for these large outside mini-monsters. I am resolute and steel myself for a second attempt. I lay on my back watching the ocean for the next swell. It does not take long. Another set of three waves approaches. I figure to wait for the third and final one, avoiding being caught inside if I fail to catch the first ones. My patience is rewarded. I wait and am in the perfect position to catch the third wave. Again I look a long way down into the trough below me. I have two seconds to decide which direction to go, left, right or straight ahead. Straight is over the falls and not my natural inclination. I know the swell is coming from the north. I lean to my right and go toward the south, down the coast. I slide along at the right speed, just barely kicking my new fins. I put out my right hand. The spray of my speed hits me in the face causing me to turn upwards on the wave and momentarily slow down. It tumbles me and I am held under by tons of water which only wants to keep me down. I spin around and swim toward the surface. I shoot my arm in the air. I  rode it for at least 3 seconds. Jake waves again with real enthusiasm. Knowing how to act like a real surfer, I give him a modest nod. Suddenly I know I have to swim back to the safe zone. Luckily no swell interrupts my furious sprint to safety.

The next set comes and I again take the third wave. This time I take off to my left and quickly rush down the face of the wave feeling the curl coming right at me.  I turn almost at the bottom, rushing up the face, much like I had observed the board surfer on the point break. My speed is incredible. Without turning back to see where the curl is, I go over the lip and tumble into the white water from a previous wave. I sprint again to the outside. Now I have enough time to catch my breath before the next set. I am having fun. I can do this, despite the danger. That is when I make another rookie mistake. The next set approaches. I am in the perfect spot to catch the first wave. What the hell, I can deal with the following waves, as long as I get a decent ride. Maybe I should be worried about being caught inside. As I go to exit over the breaking edge, it catches me and throws me back into the trough, a good ten feet. ‘Crack,’ my head hits the hard sandy bottom. I black out.

Coming to, I realize the wave caught me and I am now riding left toward the point ahead of the breaking curl. I look to my right and Jace is there, easily riding the wave. He reaches over and puts a hand on my shoulder, slightly pushing me down and getting a better ride for himself. Then I hear a familiar bark. Max is furiously dog-paddling to stay with us. Using my left arm, I reach forward and he has his paws on my forearm. The three us are riding past the point, out to sea. It is a triple tandem. Jace is singing ‘Surfing Safari.’

The curl slowly closes down on us. Looking back toward shore I imagine that Jake is waving at me. It is all good. 

LA Times January 7, 1977

Malibu, CA


Tim Castle, 18, singer, guitarist and songwriter of the Southern Blues band False Gods was identified after his body washed ashore at Zuma Beach on Wednesday. Accompanied by his companion, composer Jake Stern of Hollywood, he was reportedly bodysurfing in perilous conditions. Lifeguards called in LA County surf rescue authorities after Mr. Stern notified them of Castle’s disappearance. The body had been in the water for several hours. Efforts to revive the youth were unsuccessful. He was declared dead at St John’s Hospital. The authorities said the death was an accident. Warning signs had been posted for heavy surf conditions. In addition to being a musician, Castle was a champion swimmer in high school.

Castle was a Harvard sophomore on the staff of the Harvard Lampoon, working on the Lampoon’s production of the upcoming movie ‘Animal House.’ The movie’s Director John Landis stated that his entire staff is devastated by the death of Castle who was the music coordinator on the movie. “Tim was an inspiration to all aspects of the production. My wife and I are personally devastated by his death. We treated him like a son. He was young, bold, and a musical genius.

His many accomplishments include rewriting Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer’s Night Dream’, as a musical comedy, directing a Christmas episode of ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ and as the co-writer of a humorous parody of feminism at Harvard for the Lampoon. He also published a business case study on the movie’s development in the Harvard Business Review. He is credited, along with his Harvard roommate, Jack Stone, for ending de facto segregation at Coral Gables High School. The band False Gods earned notoriety for inciting a riot when opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1975, as well as playing at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Easter that same year. Cardinal Cooke of New York issued a statement that Castle is being considered for sainthood after a possible miracle at that Easter performance and the subsequent establishment of teen homeless shelters in New York by various religious denominations. Los Angeles music fans remember him as guitarist and backup singer in last summer’s Cabaret performances by Lisa Minnelli and Elton John at the Troubadour. He also wrote the parody of Crocodile Rock that was performed by Elton.

Castle is survived by his father and stepmother in Coral Gables, FL and his mother, stepmother and twin sisters in Ames, IA.

The accompanying photo of Castle was taken the night before his death at a business meeting for the movie at Musso & Frank’s in Hollywood.