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This past summer I went to a party at San Elijo State Beach campground in Cardiff. I was told you have to reserve sites six months in advance there. The parking lot was full, so I had to park on the 101. I did something that will piss off bicyclists: I opened my car door as riders were coming down the hill. I heard them yell, "Car door! Car door!" I immediately shut it and was embarrassed for not paying attention.

The campsite was set up for a tiki-style beach party, with thatch huts and surfboards. The crowd at the party was comprised of older surfers. One guy named Whitey reminded me of Paul Newman. Another, Phil, looked like surf rocker Dick Dale, with his long ponytail in back and balding in front. Phil and his wife had been to Tahiti, and they were wearing black pearls that they had purchased there.

Their dog and small child were running around as we talked. Phil's an entertainment attorney who represents the Beach Boys and Barbra Streisand, among others. He told me about a time Babs called him at his parents' house. His dad was starstruck and said to her, "No, really, who is this?"

Streisand had once invited Phil to a studio while she was recording in L.A. He told her that he was busy and would have to take a rain check. He said that she laughed, it probably being the only time anyone had asked her for a rain check on an invitation like that.

I asked Phil about copyright infringement, because I read about musicians suing over their songs and how they are used. I told him that I was amazed at some of those outcomes -- John Fogerty being sued because he sounded too much like his old band Creedence Clearwater Revival or Huey Lewis winning a lawsuit because the Ghostbusters theme song sounded too much like one of his songs. Phil said he has had to send out letters to people who were using songs without permission.

Several people were wearing shirts that had "Tiki Lounge Surf Team" printed on them. That's what this group calls itself, and some of them have been friends since high school (over 25 years).

One guy had a shirt that read "Get fat now, ask me how." A few others were walking around without shirts. One guy had his chest hair cut into the shape of an X.

There was a lot of food, and on the table with the chips, somebody had placed a box of cigars.

There was a surfboard designed by local Dan Wexler, and raffle tickets to win it.

A bagpiper showed up and played. We were in a campsite about 100 feet by 100 feet, and it got loud. I asked him how long it took him to learn to play the pipes. "Seven years," he told me. "It's like playing drums and piano. And when you throw walking into the mix, it can be hard to do."

Kamin, who invited me to the party, kept bringing me drinks. She introduced me to her boyfriend Eddie. He's older than her, but doesn't look his age. He stays in shape from all the surfing he does. Eddie told me he was an artist and that he hand carves tikis. He asked me if I brought my board and I laughed. I said my last name is the only board I have with me. They were going to paddle out to honor five friends who had died this year.

When everyone was walking down to the beach with their boards, I was told Eddie's brother was one of the ones who passed away. The bagpiper stood on the stairs and played as the surfers filed by. The surfers were handed flowers from their wives and girlfriends, kissed them, and then paddled out. Some tucked the flowers into the back of their trunks. Others held them in their mouths or paddled with them in their hands. The surfers formed a circle about a half-mile out, and the flowers were thrown into the circle. The piper continued playing in the background.

The women on the beach threw their flowers into the waves. As I walked in front of the women to take their picture, a wave I didn't see hit me. My shoes and socks were soaked for the duration of the party. Someone suggested I go home and change, since the party would be going on for a few days.

When the ceremony was over, a few of the surfers came back in. Most of them stayed out and surfed. A guy named Doug Kinn rode a wave standing on his hands. He stayed like that on his board for 15 seconds. I had never seen anything like it. His wife Rhonda didn't see him do it, and she told him she couldn't believe he had done that. Kinn said he'd do it again. Of course, he fell on his repeated attempts.

Since there was a shark attack in the news, I asked a few surfers if they worried about that. They laughed and said no. One said, "It's more dangerous being around certain surfers that don't know what they're doing. If you get hit in the head by a board, it isn't pretty."

At that moment, I imagined a bicyclist somewhere saying, "It's not the cars on the road that are dangerous, it's the idiots that open their car doors without noticing their surroundings."

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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