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'When We Get to Surf City'

Bob Greene lives out a dream traveling with a 1960s surf band.

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First things first: Bob Greene is no Chekhov. When We Get to Surf City will not cause you to question your very existence nor will it leave you pondering the complex relationship of the ego to the id. But it might just prompt you to ask yourself, “Am I having enough fun yet?”

Second things second. Men never want to grow up. We may think we want to before we are actually men, but trust me – once we get there and finally have to surrender our toys and dreams of playing shortstop for the Cubs or becoming rock stars – that’s when panic sets in.

But author, NPR commentator, and middle-aged guy Bob Greene found the magic key to Neverland quite unexpectedly one day in 1992. Correction – it found him, via a letter that arrived at his office, postmarked Panorama City, Calif.

This letter contained an invitation to a concert to be performed in Kansas City that summer.
In a 1987 book of teen memories “Be True to Your School,” Greene had confessed to being a big fan of Jan & Dean, the early 1960s singing duo, who, along with the Beach Boys, put surf music on the charts. Thirty years after their smash hit, “Surf City,” J&D were still on the road, crisscrossing America every summer, playing state fairs, baseball stadiums, and corporate picnics.

Seeing an opportunity for some much-needed publicity (or perhaps just sensing a kindred spirit), a J&D band member had sent Greene the invitation.

Greene traveled west to Kansas City to catch the show and then he just kept on going – all the way back to the summer of ’63, to cloudless blue skies and “two girls for every boy.” Back to burgers and shakes at the Dairy Queen and the thrill of the perfect song on the radio.

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