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!"



Hunter and Me


There are Hunter 2eight million artist stories in the city. This is mine. This is called “Hunter and Me”.

This is a story involving my old friend Dr. Doug Martin. It also involves Bob Zimmerman, my other old friend. I wrote about them in a previous blog – “67blondies”. They’re back.

I was living in a third floor apartment in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1984. You had to climb up wooden stairs outside the back of the house to get to my place. I wrote about this apartment, and my phone on the wall, in another blog – “One Friday Night”. I was working as an outreach counselor with teenagers for the Drug and Alcohol Resource Program in Stoneham, about seven miles north, and I had stayed away from any alcohol or drugs for about a year and a half. I wasn’t married, I didn’t have a girlfriend, I had an old used car, I had started collecting some actual possessions, certainly more than the two trash bags of items in my friend Bob Hallett’s cellar a town over that I could claim the day I said “if I booze, I lose, so I’m done”. Overall I was pretty happy. This is a fairly complete summation of my life back at the beginning of October in 1984 when the phone rang.

Doug was calling from Los Angeles. “Bud, Hunter Thompson is speaking at Berkeley. We must attend, the universe demands it. Saying no is not an option.” I explained in a previous blog that Doug lived much of his life in a wheelchair, the result of polio contracted when he was six years old, a year before the vaccine was discovered. I had met Doug out in LA on the first of a number of east/west journeys and adventures, and had morphed into his attendant at times, carrying him in and out of cabs and airplanes, putting him in his electrified wheelchair, setting up and turning on his breathing equipment at bedtime. Doug was well respected in disability services circles in California and I had traveled with him a few times around the state when he was attending commission meetings. And once to Washington DC. Now Doug was telling me that he had a State Disability Commission meeting in Oakland at the end of October and he was going to get the State of California to pay for a plane ticket for me roundtrip from Boston to LA so I could then fly with him to Oakland and serve as his attendant during the conference, and after, when we would stay the weekend and see Dr. Hunter Thompson speak at Berkeley. Doug was right. Saying “no” wasn’t an option.

So I put in for vacation, flew out to LA the last week in October – Doug and an attendant picking me up at LAX, then Doug’s parents bringing us back to LAX the next day for the flight to Oakland, where we stayed at the Sheraton out near the airport where the conference was being held, and then transferred over to the Durant Hotel in Berkeley, literally a stone’s throw from the campus. It was another memorable adventure with Doug, and Bob, who came over from San Francisco to hang out with us. Halloween was a Wednesday that year, and we ended up at a costumed Halloween party in Berkeley with about 20 people, Bob and I the only ones not in wheelchairs. Then on the Saturday night three days later the three of us rolled and strolled over to Cal Berkeley and watched and listened to the Hunter Thompson show. It was great. The next day Doug had planned for someone else to fly with him back to LA, and after goodbyes all around they dropped me at the San Francisco airport and I boarded my plane for the flight back to Boston.

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I Just felt Like It

There are eight million artist stories in the city. This is mine. This is “I Just Felt Like It”.

Walking past the dining room table this morning I saw a book sitting near my wife Susan’s chair. This is the name of the book: “A Year Of Living Consciously”, written by Gay Hendricks. The sub title is “365 Daily Inspirations for CreatMarch art sale 003ing a Life of Passion and Purpose”. On the back of the book there is this statement: “’A Year of Living Consciously’ teaches us to relish the journey that results in greater self-esteem and emotional literacy, achievements that can only come from leading an examined life.”

Sounds good. An examined life. Self-esteem. Emotional literacy. I should probably read it. Maybe open to today, read today’s entry, see what emotional literacy may be waiting there for me.

Gay Hendricks has a PhD in Psychology. It says that on the back of the book. That’s cool. I know a number of people with PhDs, some in psychology, some in Marriage and Family Therapy, a bunch from San Francisco I got to hang out with, even “supervise” a few years back. I, on the other hand, do not have a PhD. I do not have a Masters. I do, I am proud to say, have a Bachelor’s degree, and as it took me seven years to earn it I hold onto it proudly. Well, I hold on to it figuratively because I abandoned the actual piece of paper in an old girlfriend’s basement in Lowell, MA during a quick move from a painful brake-up. Yes, it is obvious I do not have an advanced degree.

What I do have, however, is an inclination toward living unconsciously. Truly. (That is an expression my old Lowell girlfriend used often – truly). Anyway, for about 20 years of my life I leaned toward mental numbness with the assistance of alcohol and various pills, powders, and pieces of psychedelic-enhancers. But that didn’t do much for my self-esteem, and I believe nothing for my emotional literacy. Answering “Duh” to every question asked of me, while drooling slightly, leans toward emotional mental midgetry. That’s okay, though, because a little over 30 years ago I left that life behind. Especially when people started saying this to me: “Your best thinking got you here.”

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Where Is Home? (Where Do I Truly Live?)


There are eight million artists stories in the city. This is mine. This is “Where Is Home?”.

Three vIMG_3132ery minor events happened to me – or through me – the other day that got me thinking. On face value there is no relationship or connection among them, just scattered different moments in my day. But they all brought me to the same place. To this question: where is home?

Let me explain. I get up early and sit in some level of meditation every morning, usually about 5:45. Then after 20-30 minutes I make coffee and sit in the recliner I bought on Craigslist for $40 when I first moved to Portland five years ago. I drink a couple of cups of coffee. While I have the coffee I read something I believe to be good for me. Today it was part of a chapter in a book called “The Attractor Factor” by Joe Vitale. Just before finishing my coffee and heading upstairs to write my “morning pages”, I read this: “If you want to attract wealth and anything else, you need to own your own power. You need to own your own energy. You can ask everyone what they think about any of your goals, but in the end, you have to decide.” Within that I saw and heard the words “own your own”. They are there twice. And I flashed on my time working for Walden House in San Francisco, an old-time drug treatment outfit, and all the sayings they had you would hear repeated throughout the day. One of which was “own your own”. It was pretty clear what someone meant when they were saying that. When you have all the troubles in the world from abusing alcohol and drugs, don’t try to lay them off on somebody else, or something else. You caused them. Own your own. It got me thinking, and when I came upstairs I wrote myself a note to write a blog about owning your own.

Three hours or so later I received an email in my in-box for a TED Talk, a series of videos of people speaking about important things. This particular Ted talk featured Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat, Pray, Love.” That is not a book I have read or am inclined to read, but I watched the seven minutes and was moved by the things she said. Bouncing back from failure. Bouncing back from great success. Coming to the realization that it is not about the failure or the success but about the doing of what you love. What you wake up for, what you burn to do. What she described as “going home”. I wrote a note under the ‘own your own’ note to write about home.

A few hours later, driving in the rain back from trying to hawk my art and my greeting cards to businesses along Broadway in NE Portland, the Sly and The Family Stone song “Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself Again (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin) came on the radio. As soon as I heard it (for the 10,000th time) I felt I needed to write a note under the other two, this one saying “myself”, and include that in the “own my own go home be myself” blog.

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