Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy

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Love Is An Ocean I Can’t Forget



I am going to the ocean tomorrow. To this place.

I came from the ocean. I know, supposedly we all did, if you’re a Darwin kind of gal or guy. But, specifically, for me, I came from the ocean side. Born in New Bedford – the Whaling City – raised in Wareham, a town filled with beach communities and bays and water all about. I graduated from Cape Cod Community College, a half mile from the Atlantic on those Main Street days, and later Salem State College, a stone’s throw from Salem Harbor/the Atlantic. I lived in Salem for many years, then off to Rockport and its peninsula self into the Atlantic for a winter, eventually to Plum Island and Newburyport, where the mighty Merrimack River flows into the cold ocean there.

When I first left Massachusetts, at age 27, I flew to Los Angeles and lived for a short while in both Venice Beach and Santa Monica. Later crashing in graduate housing at UC Irvine, hard by the Pacific, and working for a spell in San Clemente, able to take an occasional dip there or in Laguna Beach. A few years later it was New Smyrna Beach in Florida,ariel-view then Vero Beach. Back up to Mass and a year-long stint running an HIV/Aids housing program in Provincetown, a block from Cape Cod Bay. I squeezed a year and a half in Oakland, CA somewhere in there, crossing the bridge or taking BART under the San Francisco Bay, while running a kid program in the Lower Haight. Where, with the right eyes, you could see salt water from the tops of the highest hills. And certainly from Berkeley out from Blondies Pizza.

Yet somehow, within the reality of this always-by-an-ocean Bedouin life, I ended up in Portland, Oregon. Nearly 100 miles, as the raven flies, to the ocean. The Pacific. The one in the photos above. Some two hours away. Let me paraphrase “Remember the Titans”: How far? Too far? How far? Too far.

You can take the boy out of the ocean – if you must – but I don’t believe you can take the ocean out of the boy. Certainly not this boy…..Ocean si, Portland no.

I married an amazing woman

moonlight+beach+encinitasand her parents live in San Diego, and I have traveled there with her many times and everyone of those times been lucky enough to spend time in the Ocean Beach part of town. And swim there. A lot. We’ve day-tripped up to Encinitas a couple of times and swam at the gorgeous Moonlight Beach as well.


But most of the time, for these last eight and a half years of beach-withdrawal life in Portland, I have ached for the ocean. Deep down. I’m a beach boy. Look at my writing: “Ring Around The Rosy” and it’s ocean-side wander from Marion to Rockport; “Astoria Strange” where the Pacific sparkles and shines from the top of the Astoria Column. My current work, “When I Settle For Less“, book one of a novel set in southern California’s imaginary DeLoreal Beach.

You can’t take the boy out.

I’ve been blessed with the fact that my step-daughter Marie’s dad, my wife’s ex, owns with others a cottage three hundred yards from the Pacific Ocean in the Pacific Beach community of Tierra Del Mar. We rent it cheap for the promise of an amazing cleaning by me (and it’s always cleaner after than before), and I’ve been able to go and be there many times these last six years. The last two Marie and I – both writers – have commited to a “Writing Retreat” of five days/four nights, and I am thrilled to say our third such venture begins tomorrow. If the creek don’t rise and there ain’t no meltdown I’ll be right there, where I took those photos at the top, in a little less than 24 hours.

Get to refresh the genetic shadows deep within, of life by the water.

Get to rejoice.

"Gorgeous sunset from UC Berkeley!"



I Think I’ll Take A Walk

There are eight million artist stories in the city. This is mine. This is “I Think I’ll Take A Walk.”

Another post for my so-called “Art” blog is due tomorrow, Thursday, as I sit here in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon – unemployed, under-inspired, uninvolved, and under no illusion that I have much, if anything, to say. But, here is someIMG_6634 good news. I heard on a newscast the other day, as I was scrolling by with the clicker, that there are 64,000,000 blogs in the world today. So the chances of anyone suffering because my blog isn’t up to snuff this week seem pretty minimal.

My wife Susan, step-daughter Marie, and I returned from four days and three nights at the Oregon coast yesterday, the temperature ratcheting up by 20 degrees or so as we moved inland, over the coastal mountain range, and back to the big city. They were both happier to get back than me. Too much time away from normalcy – email, Facebook, visiting friends, work, social plans, the things people rightly miss after a while. For me, other than the fleeting hope that I would see a new painting or greeting card sale notice on gmail, and of course the chance to catch up on four days of fun Red Sox tid bits, that list of things to be missed didn’t apply. I wanted to stay at the beach. I always want to stay at the beach. I will say it again. I always want to stay at the beach.

Originally I was going to write a blog post called “Different Light”, because I mentioned to Susan yesterday morning before the depressing packing and cleaning time that the light is different by the ocean. There is a different quality to the light. It sparkles in some kind of reflective, brilliant way, a light that cannot be found inland. Even in places with large rivers, like Portland. Maybe this is a looking through artist eyes. It is well known in the artist community of the country, probably the world, that Provincetown, Massachusetts, at the very tip of Cape Cod, has long been a draw to artists because of it’s light. That is wonderful for artists living in Ptown, as it is called, though when I was running a permanent housing program for the AIDS Support Group in Ptown I wasn’t an artist, not a painter anyway, so I didn’t have all-the-way artist eyes to look through.

But this isn’t the point, because I decided against a “Different Light” post. Over the last couple of weeks, actually, I have been thinking a lot about the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. A lot. And I thought I would write this week’s post about that – about the state of our states in these United States, about race relations, about how we live with, or don’t live with, one another. About what our goals should be, instead of what they always are. I was going to start that post like this: “At the risk of alienating family and friends…..” because that is just what would have happened. I have family members who I love dearly with a far different view from mine. I have friends, especially lots of folks on Facebook, including a bunch who have helped me to live and stay sober all these many years, who just don’t see things the way I do. Some of that I have found out on and through Facebook. I guess, ultimately, I decided not to write my piece because I don’t feel ready, the right words and phrases and images haven’t shown up yet. I’ll have to get to that when they do.

So, instead, I have decided, only a few moments ago as I sit here in the Portland heat, a long summer hanging on, to write about a walk I took Sunday afternoon, just above the high tide line north of Pacific City on the Oregon coast, at a little community called Tierra Del Mar. Most of my long walks while at the coast were during low tide, when six hours of ocean pulling back left a football field wide expanse of packed sand, easy to walk on. But Sunday afternoon, when I was so moved, the tide was high and almost all the sand was soft, and I found myself walking right next to the ends of waves, one leg slightly lower than the other on the tide going out incline. So I walked to the edge of the Pacific and headed

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