Posted by: Blue Lou Logan | July 8, 2012

Portrait of a pirate as a young boy


35 years ago.  1977.  Best known to those of my kind as the year of Star Wars.  That momentous day was May 25th, which should have been duly celebrated two months ago with your own personal recreation of the Mos Eisley cantina (just leave the droids outside) or at least a plastic cup of blue milk.  But I want you to go back to earlier in the spring, before the world learned of The Force, before Han Solo became this geek’s favorite captain.  Back to when my favorite captain was named…Hook.

Forget about it, Sparrow.  He got there way before you did.

Let’s rewind one more year.  It may be personal mythology or selective memory, but the theatrical rerelease of Disney’s Peter Pan is the first movie I remember seeing in the theater.  (Another year back, I was kept with a babysitter as my parents saw Jaws, which was a major disappointment at the time.  I was five.)  Disney’s imagining of Neverland was magical.  I will admit to having and maintaining a never-wanna-grow-up attitude, and flight is a dream power of mine.  But Peter was not what fascinated me.  Hook was more than a truly charismatic villain, he was in a twisted way a role model.  He was wicked, sly, and smart.  He had a crew that slit throats, spat knives, and sang in chorus.  It must also be kept in mind that we were living in Pasadena, and Disneyland was only about an hour away.  Back in the time of the E Ticket, Pirates of the Caribbean was as good as there was.  The waterfalls, the song, the skeletons, and the sacked and burning town were integral to my early imagination.  This is when I first fell in love with pirates.  Then Han walked in, sat down, said “I’m Han Solo, Captain of the Millenium Falcon,” haggled with Ben Kenobi, made Luke Skywalker mad, and made me totally obsessed until Harrison Ford did it again in 1981 as Indiana Jones.  Yet imagine those two years, 1976 to mid-1977, when the cannon, cutlass, and pistol sparked a young boy’s mind.

Ports o’ Call

Several months ago, I had Meems extract from the ancient, adhesive-paged photo album a set of pictures.  Spring, 1977.  Ports o’ Call in San Pedro was already well known to me as a place to go out to dinner and stroll shops.  But on this day, my parents and I took to the water on a tall ship.  Photo-album memory is odd:  The visual evidence becomes the memory itself.  So as the persona of Blue Lou Logan made piracy my modern obsession, I recalled not the voyage but the photos of it.  These prints subsequently got buried in our house, but with the move they emerged yet again.  I can now identify the ship as the Swift of Ipswich, a recreation of a Revolutionary War topsail schooner built in 1938 that was the private yacht of James Cagney before going into the charter/tour business.  It was acquired by the Los Angeles Maritime Institute in 1991 and is now being restored.

Swift of Ipswich

None of that mattered when I was six.  It was a pirate ship, plain and simple.  I even had the paper hat to prove it.  So, if you can, set your WABAC machine to 35 years ago, and put your feet in the little shoes of a kid who wanted to be a pirate, utterly unaware that he could and would later create himself as one.

I’ll take the helm, Cap’n…but I might need a hand.

Piracy is ageless.  Fashion is not.  Yes, those are my parents.

Why aren’t we under way yet?

Hands to the mainsail halyard!  Step to, you scabberous dogs!

“Ooooh!  A pirates’s life is a wonderful life, a rovin’ over the sea…”

Only the smell of the sea and a fresh breeze can give me this smile, then or now.
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