|Dimitri Pavlovich is said to have invented the "comb-over"|
It is a memory of driving around the Bolinas lagoon on my way to get some fresh crab from the locals and observing the sea lions engaged in their usual low tide ritual: they’ve found an exposed spot and have arranged themselves side-by-side like blubbery sunbathers around the pool at the Outrigger Club. They look so dead to the world I figure they could’ve flown in from Duluth that afternoon and headed straight for the pool, had a few umbrella drinks and passed out. After my day of slinging verbal horseshit across the digital airwaves I am thinking a few umbrella drinks might be just the ticket, though these days dreaming about pounding back four Mai Tais in quick succession is like dreaming about becoming Queen of England. Not likely to happen.
When I take the unmarked exit off Highway One onto the Olema-Bolinas road, the road that that Bolinians wish would magically appear behind the thick and swirling curtain of fog upon their summons and then be folded under the mists again upon their passing, like the entrance to the Mines of Moria, I always have the same thought: should the San Andreas fault decide to slip right about now, a massive crack would split open under the water of the Bolinas Lagoon and suck the sea lions into the center of the earth with a giant “whoooosh”. I too would go down the drain, since the Black Rocket and I are positioned more or less directly above the fault that separates the Pt. Reyes Peninsula, and Bolinas, from the rest of North America.
I give Black Rocket a little goose just in case the big one should strike, imagining that Bolinas would be a perfect hideout for the notorious Yeung Lap Ming since it is, quite possibly, one of the more secretive, exclusive, and unapologetically mean places in the world. The good folks there, and there are plenty of them, claim that the historic stereotype is just a bad rap stemming from some major pot growers trying to warn off would-be hordes of high school thieves that might otherwise go ripping through the local gardens like swarm of Peter Cottontails. And there there’s the issue of the local surfers and their waves, which of course isn’t unique to Bo. But I’ve always thought there must be more than strong pot and good waves to make some of the local fisherman, artists, surfers, derelicts, hippies and farmers so aggressively and vocally isolationist. Some common thread that binds them together in mutual distaste for the outside world, which out here on the coast could hardly be called threateningly commercial, must keep the Bolinians looking over their collective shoulder.
As it turns out, there is a little known myth that would indicate that the natives that live on the west side the San Andreas Fault, which would be the entire Point Reyes peninsula including Bolinas and the little not-quite-as-mean art colony of Inverness, which is also the side of the fault that will either sink into the ocean or float off into the Pacific in the event of The Big One, are all descended from Russian otter hunters and fur traders roamed the inlets, coves and caves from The Farallones to Mendo in the early nineteenth century.
It is fact, not myth, that from 1812 to 1842 Russians had the run of the California coast all the way down to Tomales Bay, which if it weren’t for the San Andreas fault would not exist. Myth has it that around 1814 one enterprising Russian in particular, Lieutenant Dimitri Pavlovich, who might have been related in one way or another to Tsar Aleksandr I from the looks of his long, aquiline nose, took a shine to an acorn-grinding, bare-breasted Miwok maiden whose name has sadly been forgotten. When it was discovered that the lieutenant was boinking one of the locals, Pavlovich was shipped off to a sealing station on the Farallones, which, besides being a prodigious source of guano (bird shit), are surrounded by one of the world’s largest population of Great White Sharks. (This, of course, makes the Norcal surfers a particularly fearless. or stupid, breed.)
Pavlovich, once a hearty curly headed, cigar-chomping naval officer with sienna sideburns that swooped in from his jawline to the center of his cheeks, had been stripped of his brass buttons and epaulettes and left with a band of Kodiaks to harpoon Northern Fur Seals, shovel seagull turds, and collect seabird eggs in the eternally dense, wet and achingly cold fog that forever swirls around the Farallones. But the memory of his little Miwok girl, so willowy and lithesome in her adolescence, burned within him with such strength that he could barely walk. So one February night he commandeered a Kodiak skiff and in howling winds and blinding rain and set off from the St. James inlet between the cliffs.. The skiff pitched and yawed over giant swells as Pavlovich wielded his oars against the surf and rowed with the conviction of an uncontrollably horny man possessed by the powers of forbidden teen love. But it was not enough, and when he was finally pitched into the black ocean white sharks five times his length circled him instantly and it looked like he was going to be a midnight snack but, sensing as they do in their blindness that he had not an ounce of fat on him they all turned away except one, the patriarch of that noble lineage of great whites, El Munon, or The Stump. (We’ll come back to great great great grandfather Stumpy and all the little Stumpys after him, later. Maybe.) El Munon took the limp, almost drowned Russian in his jaws the way a lab might take a duck and swam with him thirty miles into the Bolinas Lagoon, depositing him on a rocky beach.
When Pavlovich regained consciousness the Chief of the Miwoks and other members of the local tribe were looking down upon him like he was a God who had run into some serious trouble with the ocean, and they marveled at the tiny indentations across his chest, back and tummy where Stumpy had so lovingly caressed him on their journey. They gently grabbed Pavlovich the hair and dragged him several miles to the village on the mesa overlooking the point break. Once recovered and adopted by the tribe, the horny Russian got back into the boinking business and took to making babies with his young maiden and perhaps several other Miwok girls.
Meanwhile The Russians, who with their American fur trading partners had wiped out the otter population, pulled up stakes and vacated Northern California in 1842, selling Fort Ross and the surrounding area to John Sutter, the Sutter of Sutter’s Mill where gold was discovered just a few short years later. Had the Russki’s stuck around for another year or so and laid claim to all to the rest of California, there’s a remote chance everybody from here to Vladivostok would be speaking Russian and drinking copious quantities of vodka right now.
Stay tuned for Part II "Pavlovich vs. Briones - Shootout at The Rancho"