Josh in California — Part 1: Sunday at the Beach

Monday, October 22, 2001

I’m sitting at Brenna’s computer, now, checking my e-mail and writing in my little online journal. Brenna’s on the bed reading some passages for her linguistics class (“about the Frankish empire and it’s linguistic importance”) at UCLA. She’s a graduate student working towards here doctorate in linguistics, concentrating in the German language.

I can still feel the sand in my pores. Or the salt, maybe. Both. We spent most of today walking around between Santa Monica beach and Venice beach. We didn’t do too much but talk and look at what people around us were up to, but we had fun. Brenna’s only been living here for about five weeks so she still hadn’t made it out to the beach — we shared a first LA beach experience together.

I guess we got out to Santa Monica beach around 3:00 — rather late — after having pho (Brenna) and shrimp vermicelli (me) at a little sidewalk Vietnamese place on Santa Monica Boulevard near Brenna’s apartment. See, we both have the nasty habit of staying up until the wee hours of the morning, so we don’t really get moving until later in the day. So lunch was the first activity of the day. Anyway. We had lunch and took the Blue Bus down to the beach where we got off and wandered around. We started near a pier with amusement park rides on it — with a roller coaster, ferris wheel, carnival games, and such.

I’m not a big fan of tourism. I enjoy travelling around to different places and seeing what’s going on, but I, for the most part, can’t stand “touristy stuff.” Fake.

So, we ignored the pier and wandered south down the beach, running into a crowd of people gathered around a grassy patch where we saw a team of kids perform capoera dance-fighting routines, some trampoliners do wild spinning tricks, an an “eleven year-old, twelve-time world karate champ” kid raise screaming hell demonstrating his karate routines (katas, possibly?) involving first his own self spinning, flipping, striking, and kicking and then himself with a long pointy stick doing the same thing. Pretty crazy, the last bit — the kid, not the sentence. Brenna and I talked about what we thought would happen to a kid trained to go into a screaming blur with a pointy stick… Would he kill a teacher? Was he super-disciplined? Brenna got an ice cream bar and I an ice cream sandwich and we took off.

Brenna had her camera and about a half-mile down the beach — we were walking along right where the water was rather than up by the bike/rollerblade path (which we weren’t supposed to be on, anyway) and the pedestrian walk sided almost entirely with gross little shops selling “Venice Beach Lifeguard” baby-tees and sausage-on-a-stick sorts of stuff. Not my thing, let me reiterate. So she had her camera and we decided to write some things in the sand to then photograph to turn into post cards or gifts. Our first try involved a little black rock I found. I etched “IT’S A COLD / DAY IN CALI! / HEY, HoC!” in caps in the sand (the slashes indicate the line-breaks, and the “LD” of “COLD” and “LI!” of “CALI!” got kind of taken out by the wash). So, we took the photo, but I’m pretty sure that between the debris of dug-up sand and the loss of the letters due to the water the text in the photo will be more-or-less unreadable. Maybe it’ll turn out. Either way it’ll probably end up scanned and on the web somewhere. These letters dug in the sand were about three feet long and two feet wide each. Pretty big. I wonder if it stayed around long enough for anyone to be confused by “IT’S A CO / DAY IN CA / HEY, HoC!” scrawled in the otherwise shoeprinted and birdfootprinted damp sand.

So I thought it’d be cool to try again, but wasn’t interested in digging in the sand anymore. I got kind of dirty and Brenna got peeved when I touched her camera with my sandy mitts and we were fine just watching the sandpipers dig for crabs in the sand and watching other people travelling along the beach.

Odd things about this beach compared to my limited experiences on other beaches: There were homeless people sleeping everywhere! Not everywhere, but we must have seen… fifteen? twenty? It didn’t harm my experience much so I can’t say I was offended or anything like that. Sleeping on the beach sounds pretty cool to me and if the cops will let you do it, better than sleeping on the street, I suppose — though sort of odd to be doing it at four or five o’clock in the evening. I just got surprised on a few occasions when I’d be talking or walking somewhere and I’d realize that I was right by some person sleeping! I don’t want to disturb, but I also don’t feel like someone should be offended by someone else being loud on a loud beach in the late afternoon. Anyway, I don’t think I woke anyone up and I had no problems with them so it’s all good — but strange, nonetheless.

After walking another quarter-mile I decided that I wanted to try writing something on the beach again. We found a big clump of seaweed this time, figuring that the seaweed would be much more visible and wouldn’t be destroyed by the water. There wasn’t much seaweed so I fugured “Hi, Abby!” would be the best thing to write. After verifying with Brenna that I wasn’t going to get poisoned or have a rash break out from handing so much seaweed (“just don’t touch anything in it that looks alive,” I was warned), I took to untangling it and laying it out on the beach, again in three-by-two foot lettering (about). Brenna decorated this on with shiny rocks and shells and I took another photograph. It’ll turn out better, I think. It reminded me of the cover of the Phish album “Slip, Stitch, and Pass,” for those of you out there into Phish. Well, here’s a link to it if you’d like to see what I’m talking about… Remove the guy tied to the enormous ball of yarn and replace the white-line lettering of “Phish” with seaweed lettering and you get an idea of what the shot should look like. Again, it’ll probably be on the web soon enough. Hopefully she’ll appreciate it and hang it on her wall, maybe.

Okay, last time I wrote something really long Blogger cut off the ending and I didn’t like that. So, I’ll continue this in another posting, probably to be entitled “Josh in California - Part 2.” Stay tuned!