18 May 2007

When Will It End?

It's so flat out there that I'm not even planning on surfing tomorrow. Why bother? I don't even think my longest longboard will help in these conditions. I'm also sore from three straight days of swimming. I lifted weights this morning before work. Then I did another 20 minute lunchtime swim this afternoon. I am feeling comfortably numb these days. I'm sleeping better and I can also feel my muscles coming back to life after a year in the world of the cubicles.

I may give it a go on Sunday. Is there anything in the forecast?

Today, I threw caution to the wind and said, in public, that something someone had written was shit. Now, I didn't know who wrote it. I also knew that I might piss someone off. Still, I was pissed. I'm bringing this up because it relates to surfing. Last year, the black surf group to which I kind of belong wanted to work on a plaque for a local beach. It and a beach in the South Bay were the only two L.A. County beaches that black folks could visit in the early part of the 20th century. Okay, I immediately said I would write the plaque. Usually, this group takes ideas from everyone and then tries to combine them, often with less than satisfying results. That's why I said I would do it. I didn't volunteer. I let them know I'd write it. Here's what I wrote (and keep in mind no one gave me any guidance in terms of length so I made it as long as I wanted):

Former site of

At a time when racial segregation was legal at Los Angeles County beaches, Inkwell Beach was an oasis, a place for those not
allowed on “whites only” beaches. Once the laws changed in the late 1920’s, Inkwell Beach served as a preferred destination
for generations of black beachgoers, including Nick Gabaldon, a consummate waterman who was America’s first documented black surfer. Inkwell Beach—once an emblem of man’s inhumanity to man—is now the hub of Southern California’s black surfing community.

Give to every other human being every right you claim for yourself
Robert Green Ingersoll

This is what someone said the plaque would say instead:


In the 1920’s a 200 foot stretch of beach near this site was designated “for Negroes only.” Known by many as the “Ink Well”, it was an important gathering place for African Americans long after racial restrictions on public beaches were invalidated in 1927. In the 1940’s, Nick Gabaldon, a Santa Monica High School student and the first documented black surfer, taught himself how to surf here.

Okay, that just sucks. There's no there there. One of the things I was trying to do was leave the reader with an understanding of history. I would bet that in a few decades very few people in this city will know recent American history. Part of that is a function of students not caring to learn when they're in school. (I was a teacher for awhile; I've seen it up close.) Part of that is the changing demographics of this city and state. Those who will soon be in the majority don't necessarily know American history, especially since so little of it relates to them. I don't think they really care to know history. The past means nothing as far as they're concerned; what's important is the future. I was trying to remind whoever read the plaque that this is how it used to be. Period. And I wanted it to be said eloquently enough to make people pause. I also tried to show that the situation was one where a negative—racism—was turned into a positive. Anyway, when I saw the current wording of the plaque, I lost it for a moment. In my mind, it's just not good enough. Granted, mine is short too, but it's better than that shit. But what do I know? Now people want to talk to me about all of this. You know what? I'm done. I don't mind them not using what I wrote. I do mind them using something that's not as well written. Had someone submitted a better worded plaque idea, I would have supported its use wholeheartedly. But if this is what's going on the plaque, I want nothing to do with it.


At 5/19/07, 5:28 PM, Blogger Bill said...

I am gonna go Sunday based on this mornings run...
Go for it..

Read all about it.....

At 5/19/07, 6:50 PM, Blogger Patch said...

Your blurb is written perfectly. The other one feels like it was written by 'group think'.

Go out tomorrow, we all need it.

BTW, Thanks for your comments.

At 5/21/07, 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The plaque only says "Inkwell Beach?" but that doesn't really tell the whole story, does it? Was it a cost issue, maybe?

At 5/21/07, 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't agree more with what you wrote.

At 5/21/07, 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, I had this feeling but I thought I was the "only" one, and "I" should be pissed. Let me step up on my soapbox for just a second.

I was embarassed for the person that hit send, but I can't be too upset because the entire email said that this was the beginning of the plaque wording, we had to fill in the rest.

Your submission never hit my office so for the people that did send theirs to "me", I fought for yesterday when I saw the council members and city staff at a function in santa monica.

Are you sure your submission ever even made it to the office?

I am sure you are very qualified to write for the plaque and your education level is quite sufficient, but if it gets in the wrong hands what difference does it make? Have you called the office of cultural affairs? I spoke to the director yesterday.

My problem with everyone is that when asked to help no one came, but now that the deal is done everyone complains about the outcome instead of getting together and finding a solution, this is why I do not pledge allegiance to another association except my own.

I'll get off my box to say "Call me and let's do it together!" There are others that are upset as well.
I don't think you have realized yet that the men in that organization are not going to let a female get ahead.....

At 5/21/07, 2:58 PM, Blogger clayfin said...

nothing better than city politics! Sorry yours isn't the one being used, it really does tell you the "story" in very few words - the sign of a great writer eh? Maybe still time to chnage minds? Hope so.


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