My old pal Dewd Mac-Dougal calls to regale me with wisdom about the race to replace retiring Congresswoman Lois Capps.
He’s heard Laura Capps won’t run for her mother’s seat, which covers San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.
“Good move,” he says. “Consolidates the Dem vote.”
I haven’t heard from him since Obama was reelected. Reclusive by nature, Dewd’s “mystic traveler” personality has led to a life of quiet contemplation. He surfaced from solitude to tell me he’s worried.
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“Politics got weird while I wasn’t looking,” he says. “I watch TV now, and everything’s backwards. Republicans say the poor are ‘rich’ and the rich are victims. ‘Peace’ means ‘permanent war.’ ‘Public comment’ means ‘public hazing.’ Killer cops everywhere. Crazy, man.”
Declares Dewd, with certainty: “Congress is odious, overflowing with red-state reactionaries — especially Texans trying to impose their traitorous ‘morality’ on us.”
Nice as she is, Lois Capps hasn’t done enough to push back, Dewd pronounces.
“She’s as forceful as a damp dishrag,” he says. “She’s too nice.”
We met in the water one summer day in 1976, during a south swell on the north side of the Pismo Pier. He was raging at me for dropping in on him on a set wave, under a big sign that said, “No Surfing This Side of Pier.”
“Sorry, dude,” I said. “Didn’t see you.”
“That’s my name!” he snorted. “What’s yours — Nimrod?”
“Tom,” I said. “What’s yours?”
“Dewd, dude, Dewd MacDougal,” he said in deliberate, single-shot cadence. He said “dude” with a hanging emphasis on the “u,” the kind of impediment that, today, young surfers mimic to sound cool when they first embrace surf culture. As in, “Awesome, duuude!”
Dewd, a few years older than me, still talks that way. He knows it makes him sound “about half a bubble outta plumb,” but he doesn’t seem to care. “Just the way it is, duuude.”
Sean Penn’s epic Jeff Spicoli in the 1982 film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” is as close a caricature there is of Dewd. But Dewd came first.
He went to Catholic schools, where he learned about shame and cussing, then on to Cal Poly for a degree in philosophy.
He doesn’t do much with it, except to think.
His parents left him some money, so he only works so much. Dewd’s not a slacker. He works hard at thinking all day.
He doesn’t carry much cash because he can’t stop himself from giving it away to people he thinks could be Jesus.
Which is pretty much everyone who, to Dewd, looks like they’re homeless — even if they’re not.
“The nuns said if I don’t treat the poor as if they’re all Jesus, the one time I pass by without a kindness, sure enough, it’ll be him.”
Dewd figures it’s cheap insurance.
“Fear is the heart of love,” he says. “Don’t want God to smite me.”
Dewd has a bit of a spare tire, but his mind is still sharp as a Ginsu knife. We talk about politics, faith, women, the Lakers, life. Man-cave stuff. He’s more realist than real.
I value Dewd’s considered opinions and worldview. I’m glad he called.
He doesn’t think highly of “working-class” Republicans, not because they blindly vote for plutocracy against their own interests, but because of the hypocrisy, self hatred and denial. Like their brother being gay. Or their daughter being a meth tweeker. Or their uncle having mental health problems.
“Conservatives’ lives are no different than anybody else’s. They just lie more about it,” Dewd waxes.
“Take the right-wingers in Washington, setting the national dialogue,” he says.
“They deny climate science, evolution, they incite sedition. They vote against education, science, health care, immigrants, civil rights, voting rights, reproductive rights, equal pay, women, the environment, the poor,” Dewd says.
“Any local Republican who says he’ll fight that insanity is lying,” he says. “It’ll take a strong, rational Democrat to battle the crazy — and to find SLO County on a map.”
Dewd doesn’t much care for Santa “Barbarian” snootiness.
“The only good that ever came out of Santa Barbara is Toad the Wet Sprocket,” he asserts. “And Kathy Ireland.”
Dewd says candidates from Santa Barbara must genuinely commit to understanding SLO County’s values and acting on them.
“It’s about us, not them,” Dewd says. “They put in the time here — or a Republican wins.
“And then we’re saddled with a representative who hangs with Louie Gohmert of Crazytown, Texas. Yee haw!”
Dewd MacDougal, my bud. I hope he sticks around awhile.