I’m not sure I understand why I love the beach so much. I can’t quite figure it out, but I know that I am happier than than I am at a movie. And, that my friends, is saying an awful lot! I love the sound of the water rushing to the shore. I love the scents and the way they mix together. I love the way the sky seems to cut into the almost reflecting it back up to the heavens. The way the water seems to go out forever. The feeling of calm that comes over me as I sit on the sand with my toes mingling with the sparkling grains and the breeze kissing my face. So, yeah. I guess I understand what I love about it but I am still not entirely sure I understand why I love it so. It doesn’t offer the same avenue of escape from my thoughts which the cinema brings. In fact, I find I do some very serious thinking when I am on the beach.

Here, in Northern California, it is far too cold to swim — unless you’re wearing one of those black rubber suits. But, then the sharks often mistake you for a seal. They will attempt to eat you. So, I am afraid to wear one of those thermal suits. And, even more than this, I have an irrational fear of being mistaken for a baby seal and being clubbed to death. No. I don’t want to end up yet another statistic on the GreenPeace website. But, I digress.

Here, in Northern California, on our beaches there is an over abundance of driftwood. And, I love the way the nude sunbathers and other beach-goers turn these washed up bits of wood into little huts to offer shade from the sun and wind. Even more so, I love the way so many people use the driftwood to create random objects of art. Left behind — these little creations are both lovely and somehow sad.

I will often spot such an object a good mile or so away and will make my way toward it slowly. These works seem to change form as I approach and they seem to leave something of the people who transformed them and offer up something for you to bring as you look at it. …And, out to the long stretch of sea in front of it. This is art in a very pure and even pre-civilization form. I love that. This was one of those driftwood formations that I wish I could just snatch up and take home. But, the thing is — the beauty and power only works on the beach. And it is very fleeting. This little sculpture was probably blown or washed away by night fall. Here, it is captured for you to see. A moment in time on the beach.

Yesterday, as I sat thinking about the beach, worrying about being clubbed for my pelt and contemplating the natural art all around me — B and his brother (who was visiting from Canada) started talking quietly. They began to collect driftwood and seemed to be working toward constructing something. I heard them discuss the building of a fort. I also thought I heard them discuss building something really cool. In the end, this was my lover and his brothers’ way of bonding and playing on the beach. Like two men changed to children they began to work together. A was balancing wood. B was digging deep into the sand. They were lost in their fun. I sat trying not to appear too interested. I didn’t want to get in the way of their time together and I was loving the experience of watching them. In the end, what was so interesting to me was what they wound up creating: a single post of wood standing erect in the sand. Sort of like a sign post to mark the fact that B&A had come, conquered and put there name on the map of St Gregorio Beach. There was a certain simplicity to it that I loved. I asked them to pose with it. After I snapped the picture, B decided it best to knock the post down for fear that a small child might get harmed if it should fall over for some reason. I was sad to see him knock it down but pleased that he would so worry about someone being harmed by their fun.

Who knows why I love the beach as much as I do. In the end I guess it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that it brings me great joy. Oh, and that no one mistook me for a baby seal.

(this is one of my favorite pictures of B. I think he was really quite happy on that beach, too.)

September 25, 2006. Uncategorized.


  1. Daniel, the Guy in the Desert replied:

    I love the beaches all up and down the Pacific. There’s such a feeling of being connected to the source of physical creation. Areyou Cancer by the way? I’m not into horoscopes but the way you speak about the sea reminds me of me. I would love to hang out at the beach with you sometime.

  2. ing replied:

    Nice sculpture! Beach art is so temporary — that’s part of its loveliness. I’m not fond of jogging, but I do love running along the shoreline where the water meets the sand. It makes me dizzy with happiness.

    Have you ever been to the beach in Davenport? I miss that beach! Maybe I’ll drive there on Saturday. . . thanks for giving me the idea to do it!

  3. Robert replied:

    You know how the ocean water washes up to the sand, and that very split second right before it receeds back to the ocean? Sometimes I simply focus on that very moment cuz it seems like life’s nothing but ebb and flow…

    Have a wonderful day Matt.

  4. Matt replied:

    Beaches are are beautiful to look at but too chilly to dive in. I love Mendocino coast and Oregon, so serene, pretty and melancholy. I used to record the sound of waves pounding at the rocks.

    I agree with Robert about the moment when water recedes back to the ocean–because the pattern of the water will never be the same again.

  5. Tim replied:

    Yeah, I love the beach too, as long as there aren’t loads of people around …. there’s something really meditative about the waves lapping or crashing against the shore. And I love walking along the beach, especially in the early morning or evening, it’s so romantic, even if you’re on your own!

  6. Brookelina replied:

    I’m going home to Jersey this weekend and I can’t wait to go to the beach there. It’s my favorite place in the world.

  7. Karyn replied:

    Matty, as a fellow water sign, I feel ya on this! It’s such a huge tug to the element we have.

    Love the driftwood too.

    Glad you are so happy. xoxoxox

  8. ing replied:

    Your happiness is a multicolored necklace of stars. May it hang from my rearview until the heaviness of it destroys my front shocks. . . In which case, I will replace those shocks, as often as necessary.

    It’s too bad I can’t hang that Liza Minelli album from my rearview, along with it.


  9. ginab replied:


    To bros and beaus. And to driftwood, like seaglass: I wonder how it all lands where it does. It’s kind of weird to see branches or wood like branches on a beach where there’s no canopy of trees. Now you must bare with me (or is it ‘bear’?). I’m in MI: the land of trees and lakes, BIG lakes.

    I love the beach too. I love the beach in winter, too. Something about the water, it’s movements, sews the soul.


  10. Kalvin replied:

    Aw, the poor baby seals. Maybe if you got clubbed you would stop fearing it? And this totally reminds me of Andrew Goldsworthy. Have you seen that movie, Andrew Goldsworthy working with time? I’m pretty sure one of the porn (oops, I mean video) stores down in castro carries it, and I highly HIGHLY reccomend it. There’s even a scene with drift wood. 🙂 Hope that all is well…

  11. matt replied:

    Daniel! Come to SF and we shall roam the beach! Fun!

    Ing – I hope you get to go to the beach tomorrow! It is my fave way to think about things! And I hope your lovely new jewelry clangs gently against the windshield on your way there! Think of me!

    Robert — I love that, too! Hope you’re having a great start to the weekend!!

    Matt — I love that you used to record the sounds of the ocean! I would love to capture that scent just right. I want that machine that Ruth Gordon shows to Harold in HAROLD & MAUDE!!

    Tim — Beaches just rule! I don’t mind the other people. Keeps it interesting!

    Brooke! Have a blast!!!!

    Karyn — Oh, to be on The Cape! Lucky girl, you!

    Gina — Yeah, I love the beach in winter. Used to be so cool in New England. We don’t have much change in seasons here, tho. Driftwood. I am not sure. I think the currents pull (or push) all sorts of things to our shores. One of the most popular things to find the way to shore are large bits of trees. Not sure from where they come, but by the time they reach us they have drifted so much and so far that they are sort of polished up. They end up looking like some alien form of tree. Neat. I think it inspires just about everyone who sees it lying on the sand.

    Kalvin — Oh! You mean that movie I was in — uh, no. I mean, I don’t know what you’re talking about!!!

  12. Matt replied:

    Happy happy Friday. I’m having a date later on the day with this guy whom I’ve been seeing for a couple weeks. I know I haven’t been breathing about him because I wish to keep it low-key this time.

    Anyway I’ve got your Sandy Lam and Faye Wong samplers. Let me know when you want to get together for dinner or something.

    Leaving for Hong Kong on 10/10.

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