bohemian surf

There was a sprawling row of dilapidated beach shacks, each one seamlessly hitched by weathered shakes to the other, like driftwood row houses. I chose to isolate this one at the end because the angles of that bump-out were appealing in the way they reminded me of the Swiss-Asian influenced architecture of certain Pacific Northwest bungalows, in particular the flared roof form or peaked gable. It’s really a miracle these still exist given Seattle has sold so much of itself to the highest bidder. Or maybe it’s not, considering when the tide comes in, these bluff-backed cottages are accessible only by use of a rickety boardwalk straight out of a Roald Dahl story.  Can you imagine someone in that little room working on the next great novel? Or maybe just reading an old paperback? Most of the shacks seemed thoroughly abandoned, several had sliding patio doors ajar, with insides piled with junk (probably home to incredible-sized wharf rats). The westernmost shack was the only little house which seemed permanently occupied, the resident rested in a chair on the deck, along with a shaggy dog.

May 2020 - Minus Tide 446

Last week after running several critical errands as quickly as possible on my own and returning home to make sure the boys had not toppled everything down in a tidy heap during my absence, to my initial horror the sounds of The Beach Boys blasted from Oliver Fern’s turntable, upstairs! His room is situated at the back of the house, directly above his mother’s temporary office, wherein that present moment she was finessing the morale of a couple hundred high-falutin colleagues, in a video conference. From the kitchen downstairs, the chorus of Surfin’ USA was more than faintly audible through the ceiling plaster. After a mad dash up the stairs, partway down the hall I came to a standstill. In My Room repeated, must have been four or five times in a row. I’m not nostalgic for The Beach Boys, who seem apropos to nothing at the moment but I’ve always loved that song. Oliver spent the rest of the morning in his room, content to be alone, away from the rest of us. Later, the boys’ mother smiled sweetly when I asked her about the music upstairs, which she reported included The Beatles, The Shins, and Count von Count from Sesame Street.

7 thoughts on “bohemian surf

  1. Sounds like pretty good vibrations. I don’t know much about cars, as I think we discussed one time, and I used to listen to Little Deuce Coupe and wonder what the heck a flathead mill etc. meant. The Count would say Four, Four, Four on the Floor! Ah! Ah! Ah! I love the Shins! Hard to believe a high-priced place like Seattle still has some beach shacks, even picturesque ones like this, did you ever talk to the guy with the shaggy dog, or does he keep to himself

    • Robert, we’ve been exploring this beach for years but it has never really occurred to me to get all the way to this spot (maybe because it’s already part of a longer walk- we tend to only look around here when the tide is quite low- besides that, we’re usually looking down, absorbed by the ground most of the way, scanning for small creatures or rusty knick-knacks) so these cottages/shacks were a superbly interesting surprise. from a distance I’d always pegged them as tacky villas. And no, I didn’t manage to chat with that fellow and his dog. The walk-outs are relatively high up in the air, in that gray area where I would’ve felt like an intrusion on their personal space. Most of the people further down I’ve found to be pretty friendly but as a rule waterfront homeowners can be an unpredictable lot when it comes to territoriality so I give them a wide berth (although I consider myself an unlawfully good person who will occasionally trespass above the high water mark). I was already trying to keep a low profile because part of my time here was spent taking pictures underneath the cottages, but only the really derelict ones- I didn’t want a terrible surprise, have some salty sea dog tugboat captain come doddering out, accuse me of interrupting his pipe…..

  2. What a wonderfully sweet post, through and through. The beach shacks remind me of how my brother once described a neighborhood below Pt. Defiance Park in Tacoma that he saw from the water. He said it reminded him of the movie Popeye! I can see that here.

    Hope you all are staying safe and probably staying indoors during the unrest up your way. Gosh, what terrible times we are living. I find myself silently wishing for justice, reconciliation and peace, over and over.

    • Thanks Ilona. Point Defiance, that’s such a wonderful place. It has been a couple years since we were in the park. Someone was literally just telling me about another park close by there that was named in honor of Frank Herbert (Dune). We’re safe and sound. It’s more than a little surreal, we’re literally just over the hill (and two or three big humps) from downtown and it’s hard to imagine the general mayhem from our neighborhood idyll. But I’ve spent the past few days having a lot of chats with our 12 year old (who for better or worse I’ve turned into a news junkie during the pandemic) about the persistent myth of postracial America, about collective trauma and the complicated hijacking of legitimate rage and protest. It has been a good way of not letting myself just sit here shellshocked by the national panic attack (and anger) that’s taking place and by the tsunami of terrible news that doesn’t seem to let up and I feel like I’m channeling my feelings of shame, frustration and helplessness at all this into something productive. Justice, reconciliation and peace……you always put things perfectly. I’m wishing along with you (and a prayer for those carrying out acts of civil disobedience in the name of justice who are in danger of getting caught up in the scrum or used as political foil).

      • Yes this is the time to address it with your boy because they know that things aren’t right. It’s just so hard to articulate it, isn’t it. But never underestimate the power of good parenting and teaching your children well, as the song goes. And then as the song also goes, we learn from the children too. XO

  3. Thanks for sending the link, it’s good to be back here. I have tried to be more methodical about following blogs on Feedly. It’s not rocket science. I need to make that work, because I am tired of mindlessly clicking on the broader internet. In what’s left of this strange, scary year – if I do one thing, it’s going to be reducing and smartifying how I engage with the internet.

    I’ve always liked the Beach Boys but wasn’t a mega fan. There are some songs that take me right back to vacations in San Diego, though. I’ve never been a very sophisticated consumer of music. From what I understand, they were incredibly talented. Wasn’t there a documentary on Brian Wilson (sp?)? Maybe that’s my next watch.

    • I’m the same as you about the Beach Boys, it sounds like. Not sure about the documentary, that’d be pretty interesting. The record we have of them is one I picked up at a yard sale really more for the sleeve art than the music itself, probably. I’m not a super-sophisticated consumer of music either (some Pitchfork reviews are so inaccessible they make me laugh until I might wet myself) but I’m fairly avid about what I like and introducing myself to new stuff. the lineages, trees and influences in music are always fascinating to me. It’s almost a cliché and intriguing to me how many bands these days cite the Beach Boys as part of their canon of influences, even when sometimes it doesn’t seem to line up at all in terms of sound, style or playing.

      Thanks for wandering over here to check things out. When I left that note for you last week I was kicking myself really hard for not doing it sooner. The honest truth is I’m such a luddite that a long time before I had the notion to leave my calling card, I had no idea there was cross-functionality across platforms, as far as commenting. Otherwise I would’ve given you a prop, sooner. But better late than never. I’ll drop in more often, for sure.

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