Now that Spring is here, the days of bright sunshine seem to unfold
with greater authority, no longer a promise but an actual downpayment
on the summer.

The vacation motels along Thompson Avenue, with names suggesting an
intimacy with the beach (an intimacy which is betrayed in fact by the
unseen barrier of the 101 Freeway) look brighter, too — the neon
“Vacancy” signs, merely pathetic in February, now have the quality of
confidant, if insincere, smiles.

Yesterday I decided to spend one of these bright days inside a movie
theater, watching The Mod Squad — a mistake I hope others will not
make. Depressed by the spectacle of such wonderful actors mouthing such
dull-witted dialogue I came out into the late afternoon on Main Street
and my spirits were instantly restored.

The ocean peeked back at me from the end of Chestnut Street, the
slanting light made the small-scale buildings of downtown Ventura look
like toys. As I walked to my car I passed the old Ventura Theater,
where the last evening of the Monster Swing Weekend was already in
progress. The Rumba Bums were on the bill, but I heard no music, just
squeals and cheers from a crowd inside, like the innocent echo of
lighthearted evenings long past.

I had the sensation of being on a movie set, but the feeling wasn’t
alienating, because it was my movie, set on the streets of my little
town, Ventura . . . an imaginary location somewhere on the coast of

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