Lately I’ve been getting these strong urges to express my California roots. I’ve been going barefoot to the grocery store. I’ve played volleyball for the first time in years. I’ve body-surfed for the first time in decades. And I’ve really gotten religious about making my guacamole. … I’m not sure what’s going on.
I was in this kind of mind-state when I spent the first week of July in the Central Coast beach town of Cayucos, where I discovered a local literary journal called The Rogue Voice.
The Rogue Voice is quintessentially Californian. It’s well-written, contrarian, wacky and unpretentious as it advocates the rogue lifestyle — the beach-shack lifestyle, the lifestyle devoid of trophy houses, career sharks and rat races. As it’s publisher, Dell Franklin, who drives a cab on the side, writes, “Try the path Henry Miller suggests: Find your ‘It’ and do whatever ‘It’ wants.”
The journal fills its pages accordingly. Franklin writes a guide to “furnishing a beach shack” — he’s been sleeping on the same couch since 1981. Ben Leroux writes about discarding everything he owned and hitting the road. A con in Soledad writes a monthly column called “Life in the Cage.” Another feature showcases the quirky aspects of writers’ “Personal Worsts,” such as “hundreds of failed relationships” and “endless jobs with their consequent firings.” There are poems, short stories, profiles, opinion pieces and Stacey Warde’s regular “Editor’s Rant,” which runs for pages. There’s also quite a bit of cultural warfare in the Voice, which I could do without, but of course that’s part of what makes it so special. There’s no topic too taboo or too un-literary, which makes it even more lovable.
My family loved Cayucos. We wore old shorts and holey tees to dinner. We smiled back at the locals on their cruisers. My 5-year-old learned to boogie board and informed me later that night, his eyes giant, “It’s my passion, Daddy.” We hung out at a local coffee place that played Black Uhuru, the Stones and everything else in-between. And we didn’t see one Starbucks or KFC or Chili’s logo the whole time there.
And that was pretty damn cool.