Some of you may be wondering how we get into the holiday spirit on the Central Coast, considering that we lack the built-in cultural signifiers (read: snow) present in other places. It’s simple: we’ve learned to embrace the incongruity of a warm(ish) Christmas. The nearby city of Capitola heralds the season each year with the arrival of Surfin’ Santa on his outrigger canoe, for instance. Then there are songs such as “A Surfer’s Christmas List,” released in 1963 by the Surfaris of “Wipe Out” fame. (Sure, the Surfaris hail from Glendora in SoCal, but the tune is still appropriate…)
I first heard “A Surfer’s Christmas List” on the very first mix tape I received; I must have been 17. My brother’s high school buddy Marta was in town, and she gave me a Christmas tape (yes, an actual cassette!) entitled Ho There! There were highlights laden throughout. “Jesus Christ” was my first actual exposure to Big Star after years of listening to Big Star-inspired bands. The Ravers and Carla Thomas were equally at home on the tape, and it wouldn’t have been a Marta holiday mix without her beloved Ramones singing “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight).” But this week, it’s this unassuming sleeper that’s popped into my head. Thank you, Marta, for helping me embrace my geographic destiny on Christmas, not to mention inspiring a lifetime of tape-making of my own.