On October 5 of this year, I was let go from a position where I had worked for four and a half years. The circumstances of my dismissal are not relevant to this account, except insofar as they help to explain why I am creating this blog. I had last been laid off from a job in November of 2004 during the height of the Bush junta and used the two years I was unemployed then to protest regularly against Bush's policies in the U.S. and abroad. But when that period of unemployment ended in July of 2006, I had very little to show for my two years other than being able to look myself in the mirror each morning with self respect, knowing I had protested against a very bad leader and his criminal policies.
This self respect was and is no small matter. I shall be able to say to posterity and to anyone from the Middle East that I did almost all within my power, short of committing civil disobedience, to help turn the ship of state back to a more humane course. (After two years of Obama, those years spent protesting against Bush seem only a half success at best. But that is a topic for another blog, I think.) However, staring yet another period of potential protracted unemployment in the face now, I desired that, if and when it ended, I should have something more concrete, more substantial, than mere self respect to show for it.
Alma and I had been walking the beach daily since the beginning of June this year. Almost immediately, Alma began collecting various items we found there, both natural and man-made, as material for her art. I initially conceived of this blog as a chronicle of her efforts to create 'found art' from these beach leavings. But between June and now, I also came to realize that these walks on the beach were having a significant therapeutic effect on me. So I began to think that I should chronicle not only Alma's creations but my healings and the interplay between the two. Finally, I had read Thoreau's Walden as an undergraduate many years ago and retained a healthy and fond memory of him as an American eccentric in the best tradition. I started re-reading Walden in mid October, perhaps with an eye toward making of our beach walks my own proper sojourn by the pond. I make few concessions to vanity but I would like to write another Walden.
And whom do I write for? My audience is as large as the globe but as small as myself alone. I write especially for those who are landlocked, with no access to any ocean or significant body of water. I hope to convey through language and occasional photos a sense of life at Venice Beach in 2010 so that those who cannot visit a beach easily will be able to experience its wonder and delight and feel its occasional sadness and melancholy.
I am not a marine biologist, not a geologist, nor even an amateur naturalist. So in my accounts of the flora and fauna of Venice Beach, in my descriptions of the physical features, I trust that any professionals out there will understand that I write as a layperson with an eye towards a lay audience. I shall attempt to record data and facts as accurately as possible, with the occasional detours artistic license allows, but I must ask the reader's indulgence if I commit any sins of omission or commission.