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Squid #351
(published October 11, 2007)
Ask the Giant Squid: Which are the Nicest Beaches in Hell?
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid,

What are the best beaches here in Southern California and why?

Jimmy Chen

Dear Jimmy Chen,

A beach is a weird (which is to say wyrd) interstitial zone. To the one side it is frothing tide-swung sea, and to the other implacable stone. These elements are forever at war — indeed, the history of our shared mostly-blue-but-still-bluegreen globe is most productively seen as a battle between sea and stone is. The rock bursts forth from the deep bowels of the crust as suspiciously fluidlike lava, cools to hardness and takes on its true dry-stoniness. Magma is a terrible lapidary spy, a seaskin caterpillar aiming to metamorphose into vile mountains, and it is unstoppable.

The waters, for their part, are not nearly so blunt as to reach out and grab vast territory from their foe. No, theirs is an insurgency; they slowly wheedle and deedle, first rush and push, slip back, finally to shove and move again, and again, inch by agonizing inch. They erode and salinate, as insatiable and indefatigable as Glenn Danzig, eating slowly at the land until one day the waters look about themselves and see they have carved Canyons most Grand, and overwashed Cities Most Big and Easy. And then the waters high-five each other, slapping much at the asses of their teammates. They drink a cold draught, and return to work. Water is tireless and subtle, fluid and adaptable. Build breakwaters, and she comes as rain; poison and scatter the clouds, and she seeps in as the rising water table. Water's guerilla tactics, I believe, will win in the end.

Jimmy, you and your drylandhumping ilk were, distantly, born from the sea, like all life on Earth. But, stupidly you chose to leave it. Even the whale — foul and under-tipping — had the good sense after some scant millennia to return to the sea's soothing embrace. Curse your ancestor the mudfish, and his gentrifying ways; had he not thought the waters too crowded, had she not thought that the real estate of the beaches an inviting fixer-upper, you might have had hope, and we all might have dwelt together peacefully, under the sea, now and forever. Truly your sages spoke wisely: Life is much better down where it is wetter, under the sea.

But no, you were born from wetness into horrible dryness, your very birth a mocking, mimicking parade of your genetic ancestors, so obstinate that, rather than return to the pond yearly like the pious amphibians, they instead chose to take the ponds within themselves. It is truly a frog-god who curséd humans to suffer the monthly blood and the pangs of birth; there are no 24-hour labors or cesarian sections amongst salamanders and newts, and sharks do never chafe. The dryness has truly called you hers. You are her avatar and her worshipper. The continents are your church, and the beaches are the furthest front of your geologic jihad.

Conversely, I was born from the sea. Effortlessly from wetness to wetness, always wetness. The sea hugs me tightly with her pounds of love. The sea provides ubiquitous and conspicuous food in great variety, and instructive predators for moral lessons. The sea is always seeking expansions — look upon the crushing waves and how they subtly and pervasively reach for more. Look upon the ice of the arctics, our hidden reserve of strength. Look upon the rains that wash more and more of your world into mine. You are losing, Jimmy Chen.

Like football, it is a game of inches. Like your World War One, it is years of fight over a few well-guarded scraps of land. And for my kind, it is hell.

Every beach is a battle, Jimmy. And every battle has casualties. Sand is nothing more than the corpse of a mountain, defeated by sea. When you play upon your Southern Californian beaches, you dance in an abattoir, inches from your death.

Thus, to my most great and catholic mind, the best beaches are those which most thoroughly reject the queer folk which are neither fish nor foul, but insist on being learnéd in both loves: the whale, the sea gull, the sea lion, the sea bear, and so forth. Humans, with their abiding love of taking of the "dips" are included in this number. As such, the best beach must be those of San Pedro, which have rightfully chosen sides in this ancient, but ever-warming, debate. Consider yourself warned, Jimmy Chen.

Until Then I Remain,
The Giant Squid

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