In Search of Spring Break

Looking for booze, babes and beach parties on Galveston Island

In Search of Spring Break

After arriving in Galveston amid tornado watches under swirling end-of-days skies, and enduring downpour after downpour throughout a long Sunday afternoon and night, on Monday afternoon, it looked like photographer Daniel Kramer and I had at last found the Island's Spring Break.

We were on East Beach, long the scene of the Island's most debauched March-time frolics and the only beach on which alcohol is condoned, if not tacitly ignored by the police. There were three couples there, recently-graduated Aggies from Conroe and Bellville and other small towns, nipping on cans of Bud Lite and Coors Lite, playing a spirited game of beach volleyball without a net.

Nearby, some other guys were in a truck, driving a buddy toward medical attention — he had a two-inch shard of gafftop-catfish spine stuck in the bottom of his foot, which was starting to swell as it filled with evil trash-fish poison.

East Beach's Mud Man: the one and only person we found both on the beach and in the spirit.
Daniel Kramer
East Beach's Mud Man: the one and only person we found both on the beach and in the spirit.
We thought this gaggle of beachgoers would be a motherlode of Spring Break debauchery gold. 
We were as wrong as wrong could be.
Daniel Kramer
We thought this gaggle of beachgoers would be a motherlode of Spring Break debauchery gold. We were as wrong as wrong could be.

And there was the Mud Man. I had seen him minutes before walking away from the beach toward the dunes with a woman by his side. Suddenly the man collapsed in a tidal pool on the rain-sodden beach. As the man literally wallowed in this shallow, the woman walked on without so much as a single look back. The man grabbed mighty handfuls of sand and rubbed them into his hair and chest. "I am the mud man!" he shouted to no one in particular.

Here it was, at last, the real deal: sodden stupidity and freewheeling fun in what was going to have to pass for the sun. For the past 24 hours, we'd been seeking real-live college people killing their brain cells in the sand and on The Strand. In all our searches from one end of the Island to the other, from beyond Jamaica Beach to East and back twice, and into The Strand District more times than we could remember, we hadn't yet seen Mud Man's type in his natural habitat.

We had seen hordes of wholesome, well-padded families from places like Garland, Cedar Park, and Huntsville enjoying trading off sandcastle and seagull reveries in the afternoon with fried-fish feasts and massive ice cream cones on The Strand by night. (While Galveston's visitors were clean-living and upright, we found the locals to be another story, but more on that later.)

Where were the fireside beach soirees and teetering-on-the-brink-of-disaster beach-house deck parties of my misspent youth? Where the teenaged riots in Menard Park, the 97 Rock- and KLOL-sponsored megabashes of the 1980s and early '90s? Where were the beaches awash in the thrum and hiss of hip-hop drum tracks billowing out of Blazers and Broncos, the raucous cries greeting the flash of bikini breasts, the couples making out in the rolling greenish-brown surf?

My God, what hath the modern travel industry, social networking, and bazillionaire amusements / restaurants / cheeze merchant Tilman Fertitta wrought upon the sun-and-sin capital of my youth?

Only Mud Man stood in opposition to the last three decades of Landry-fication.

Kramer asked him where the girls were, because we knew Mud Man would know.

"Over there," he slurred, pointing a brown finger vaguely to the west. "Unless I ran 'em all the way off the beach."

My man...We knew you'd lead us to the promised land.

And sure enough, there were about a dozen where he had pointed, lounging on beach towels in their bikinis amid coolers. At last, here was a concentrated pocket of Spring Break, a bevy of bathing beauties come to town in search of Gulf Breeze-scented hedonism.

Not so much. As it happened, they'd come down from way up north on a Habitat for Humanity project, rebuilding homes for the poor in Beaumont. This was a day-trip to the beach for them. I was flabbergasted. I'd only heard of such altruistic youths before, and here were some in the flesh. While I was still trying to process that nugget of information, another added that they were students at UConn, which I initially heard as Yukon. And really, had they actually come from those forbidding glacier-streaked, aurora borealis-illuminated, gold-rich, grizzly-patrolled mountains, I would have been scarcely more surprised.

And as you got closer, we could see that despite the fact they had braved a near-flood to come to permissive East Beach, all of them, to a woman, were drinking bottled water. These were not sex-crazed hardbodies but secular missionaries. I thanked them for their service — sincerely — and told Kramer we could wrap the shoot.
_____________________

And 24 hours before, despite awful weather, we'd had high hopes.

Our arrival in town Sunday afternoon was more doom-laden than I'd experienced in 40-plus years of going to the Island. The vista of the bay from the Causeway looked like something out of a stormchaser video, and after checking in to the Hilton on the Seawall, as we watched the "Local on the 8's" forecast on The Weather Channel, the wind lashed our windows. The national radar map showed a line of hellafied storms extending all the way from Iowa down to, and just barely through, Galveston Island. "What a bummer for the Spring Breakers!" passive-aggressively chortled one of those cleavage-exposing mean girls TWC is well-known for hiring as anchors. A bummer indeed.

1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
22 comments
Michelle
Michelle

Sigh. I remember G-town spring breaks. Since I grew up on the Island, it meant me and my high school girlfriends sneaking out to the West End even though our parents told us NOT to go. It took us 6 hours to get back because of all the traffic and this was before cell phones so I was grounded for a long time. Still, I got to hear some good music and watch a dude get beat down with the windshield wiper of his own car (another spring reveler ripped it off the windshield and went to town on the dude). Good times.

Creg
Creg

I trust this was written on an IBM selectric....

Michael W. Stewart
Michael W. Stewart

What a story! "Then and Now" brought back many, many memories.

I found your peice the BEST article in the Houston Press to date (I

have been reading your paper since 1991).

As I read this over coffee, it took me back to my own spring break in 1983

in Galveston, my coming of age on the brown-patch beaches among my

high school contemporaries all vying for attention from the girls, the drunkeness,

hangovers, breakfasts of potato chips and beer, the exploratory rhythmns

of youth. Your story fired my remembrance 29 years ago.

To marry your Spring Break sweet heart all those years later, add the Kilroy tragedy

alongside with the attendant horror of your friend nearly ending up a corpse in

Matamoros and you have an incredible story here. Certainly a movie. Thank

you for transporting me back to the retro-80's, the Cold War, my own imprimatur of life.

Mick Stewart

Houston, Texas

CastanedaHarry
CastanedaHarry

ṁy beśt fŔienď'ś Ṁoṁ Ṁakeś $76/ĥouŔ on tĥe laptop. Śĥe ĥaś been out of WoŔk foŔ 7 Ṁontĥś but laśt Ṁontĥ ĥeŔ pay Waś $7226 juśt WoŔking on tĥe laptop foŔ a feW ĥourś. Go to tĥiś Web Śite anď reaď Ṁore...

CastanedaHarry
CastanedaHarry

my roomate's sister-in-law earned $14851 last month. she is getting paid on the laptop and moved in a $499100 house. All she did was get blessed and put to work the clues exposed on this web site>>> lazycash1DOTcom

CastanedaHarry
CastanedaHarry

Ṁy buďďy'ś śtep-ṁotĥer Ṁakeś $82 every ĥour on tĥe coṁputer. Śĥe ĥaś been uneṁployeď for 9 Ṁontĥś but laśt Ṁontĥ ĥer cĥeck Waś $7938 juśt Working on tĥe coṁputer for a feW ĥourś. ĥere'ś tĥe śite to Ŕeaď Ṁore >> Goo.gl/189kz

christina castro
christina castro

my friend's step-aunt earned $13856 last week. she been making cash on the computer and moved in a $347900 house. All she did was get fortunate and use the instructions revealed on this site .................MakeCash10.com

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

Erick Tyree-Dillard
Erick Tyree-Dillard

When Galveston began promoting "Spring Break Galveston" as a destination for family fun, I knew that was the kiss of death for a place that was once a fun town to visit...especially if you were over 21 and didn't have a family.

Pete Hesher
Pete Hesher

Hi this is Pete from Gnar World Order. I just read your depressing as hell piece on our Spring Break and I couldn't agree more with you about how shitty it was. I'm 24 years old, grew up hearing about how wild the Strand was as a kid and how the beaches would just be filled with party-goers every weekend. Old people would run and hide during spring break, KAPPA, and Mardi Gras to find some form of calmness and Tanquility. Now that I'm old enough to go to bars and run wild in the streets, NO ONE IS DOING IT. The biggest thing we had this Spring Break was that sorry excuse of a festival, M.U.F.Fest. Poretto beach was rampant with Dreadlock-sporting white folk and dirty hippies in Tents jamming out to all the "island-famous" bands and OH WIPEEE... H.R. from the Bad Brains as the only artist with any real draw, great musician but we need more than one big name.

I could hop on the bandwagon and piss and moan with you and all the other people that wind up forsaking this once awesome island or I could try to get you, your promoters, your readers and all the bad ass party-machines in Houston ( because if any city in Texas knows how to fuck shit up It's most def Houston) to get out of their skinny jeans and into some trunks and bikinis. I think it's about time someone lit a fire under this towns ass and brought some of that Houston attitude to the island.

Bottom line; If you're looking for a party, you just found one. As the founder of the only band in Galveston county that is dedicated to extreme radical dissorder (ie. drinking till dawn or an arrest, yelling obscenities at the very same shoobies that come to my bar and give me their money, outlaw downhill races, punk rock BBQs, the only guy that refuses to book cover bands in this town and runs shows that can be heard 3 blocks down the street.) and manager at the only craft beer bar on the island run by locals for locas (yes beer snobs can be piss poor punks, good beer and rent aren't cheap) I send you this message not to boast but to let you know that there are islanders who are just concerned as you are about the lack of spunk in this town. Hope that maybe we can work together in the future because I'm always looking for more people to recruit into the Gnarly Youth to wage War On Tourism, tear down the institusion that the Moody's and Fertitta have built to imprison our youth and those like yourself who are older but still youthful and willing to joing the party crusade. Partying is my business and business could be better.

Jn Brown
Jn Brown

i wasn't able to work for awhile after Nam. i had a $40 a week room at the seawall. A merchant seaman i knew helped gather wild bamboo and we would use paraffin and make the first American bongs, sold on the beach. we later got into a head shop chain in Galveston/Houston. thank you Galveston, good times.

Craigley
Craigley

This article reminds me of the saying "We were never bored, because we were never being boring".

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Its why I havent visited Galveston in years..Like SPI, its just become a hassle to get into and out of, not to mention its not really a pretty beach...its flat and featureless...

The Ghost of Spring Break Past
The Ghost of Spring Break Past

Back in the day, we would take the ferry across to Crystal Beach, that's where the party was. Not sure if that's still the case, but maybe you should try that next year.

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

Zoo Beach is alive and well, but it's a whole other East Texas / Beaumont / Cajun vibe, even with the Spring Breakers.

double bass
double bass

Double bass drums have been popular with some kind of extreme punk, heavy metal & jazz. Both, heel-up & heel-down methods are being used in playing double bass.

Mojoboogie
Mojoboogie

Next time, just hang out on Post Office St, it's where the barcycle folks come from and my neighborhood!

Airbrush King
Airbrush King

@HoustonPress Hi, My name is DeAngelo and I am the artist who designed the t-shirt for this cover. If you want to view more of my airbrush artwork visit http://www.airbrushking.net and click on the gallery category. Now for the article I read it and its a great article. I like the concept just wished houston would bring back astroworld so we can have a real spring break out here again. I really do miss 80's and 90's era...

cuppanoodles
cuppanoodles

Utterly depressing - not the writing but the narrative itself. You should've just gone completely gonzo with this piece.

 
Loading...