Chris Erskine | Beach cruiser pub crawl good for what ales you


You can go through life like a cool guy hitting a golf ball off a yacht, or you can go through life as a real person. Both have their rewards.

Have you seen that Tommy Hilfiger ad of a young, ripped Gatsby hitting the golf ball off the deck? What you don’t see is that, in the next instant, a phantom wave sends the golden boy pinwheeling into the drink, where he winds up marrying a mermaid with abandonment issues and living happily never after.

Eventually, someone is going to remake the “Incredible Mister Limpet” exactly like that. Jim Carrey will star. Some ingénue recently born will play the mermaid. There’ll be something said about the way total love trumps anchovy breath. In the poster, Carrey will have gills.


The critics will beat it up — “Limpet is bad sushi,” scolds Entertainment Weekly — and it will do a mere $600 million worldwide, well enough to earn a themed ride at Universal, for which they’ll knock down half of Burbank.

Or Life Option 2: You can spend your weekends like a real person, doing pub crawls on beach cruisers, a poor man’s yacht.

That’s what I do. If they ever made a movie of it, Jeff Bridges would star. Or, if it’s on the cheap, they’d just hire his beery, broomy beard. Critics would love it. It would make exactly $1.27.

That’s not to say there isn’t a story here. It’s just a sweeter, more interior tale. For there is no humbler vessel than the iconic beach cruiser, marshmallows for tires, a saddle of freshly baked bread.

A good beach cruiser is like something Cub Scouts would eat.

To do a pub crawl on one almost feels like gilding the lily, an expression for taking something perfect and attempting to make it more perfecter.

That’s what a beach cruiser pub crawl is, the merging of life’s finest ride with life’s greatest bargain, a good dive bar. As Steve’s wife, Marci, says, “dive bars smell like college.”


Who’s Steve? Steve Stanage is the guy who lured me into this beach cruiser pub crawl lifestyle, one I may never leave, once I learn to monetize it.

As a recent empty-nester, the finance guy from Corona started taking beach cruiser day trips from Santa Monica to San Diego, one little stretch at a time, stopping at the occasional watering hole to keep his fluids up. Hydrate, hydrate, breathe.

Two years later, Steve has this treasure trove of great routes, and last Sunday he and I zigzag-zigged from Redondo to Marina del Rey trying one out.

As you know, beach cruisers are incapable of straight lines. Instead, you tack one way, then the other, Euclidean as sailboats. To travel 10 miles, you actually wobble 20.

The route passed with flying colors, for about 2 p.m. we find ourselves in the estimable Poop Deck — $39 worth of plywood with a beer veneer in Hermosa Beach. In short, the place has tenure.

Beachy dive bars like this make me spontaneously smile, in the same spirit of Lovin’ Spoonful songs or French girls on scooters.


The Poop Deck is a glorious saloon with some sort of bamboo fence ceiling and a pool table that looks like they used it to sear bacon. Out back, there’s a fratty courtyard — a few plastic chairs and sunshine.

That’s where Steve and I decided, while watching four kids play a drinking game, that beer companies ought to devote a special unit to developing such games, sort of a skunkworks of suds, thereby ensuring 10% spillage and higher profits.

Another place we achieve an almost Socratic clarity is at the Shellback Tavern, a Manhattan Beach landmark that also distinguishes itself for its bohemian values and sticky yard-sale decor.

“Every fall, my buddies and I hold a punt, pass and kick competition,” Steve is telling me, which might be an even better idea than the Beer Game Development Unit.

But certainly not better than a beach cruiser pub crawl — a beer an hour and a spouse at the end of the line to drive home (just in case).

In my new book, “An Empty-Nester’s Guide to Making Your Wife Mad Again,” a beach cruiser pub crawl will be chapters 1, 2 and 3.


Published in Budweiser font, you’ll find it in the self-improvement section of your local library.

Soon as I write it. Soon as I find my way out of this gawd-forsaken ocean, which is a lot deeper than it looks.

Hydrate, hydrate, breathe.