marks the spot.
off-hued palms sandy backpacking
we woke just before noon, and inspired by an opening-day viewing of dogtown and z-boys on friday night,

[at the giganormous sherman oaks plaza galleria, the original home of the valley girl, the hot spot that put the fast times into ridgemont high, boaster of ample ample parking when you remember to get your ticket validated, a structure as starkbig and as concretin as that machine the aliens built in total recall ],

josh and i decided to drive south and spend our sunday exploring and trap-snapping photographs by the beach. we put on some comfortable clothing, loaded up our backpacks,

[in my small national audubon society pack: my two-year-old duct-taped digital point and shoot, the pentax 35mm slr and its quantaray zoom lens that i haven't used once in those two years, one velvet satchel containing a vinyl chessboard and 32 peices, one red calumet lens filter, one roll of new kodak gold film and one yet unused roll of asa 80 kodacolor-x film circa 1975, bought several years ago in its original aluminum canister at a flea market; joshua's camping backback: his plastic holga 120s with "optical lens", the old gray ansco color clipper, his canon zoom 518 super-8 movie camera, a knit hat, a roll of tmax and a 10 minute key of tri-x super-8 ],

and climbed into his lightweight toyota pickup, bounding south on the 405 towards santa monica

[every time you go anywhere in los angeles, your ears are likely to pop since the roads you take will doubtlessly rise and fall over a mountain range]

with revolver blasting from the back seat, until we parked in a pay lot right in the heart of venice.
cheap eats beach pawns
i had guessed right: the seaside had just enough wind for my jeans. we shouldered our packs. the sun shone. this marked our third sunday together at venice beach, so we already knew

[having ambled two weeks and four weeks before, as the light became acute, through the vocal crowds of the boardwalks, along the brightly painted buildings, across the toegrainy expanse of beach, past the families, drumming hippies, street performers and preaching drifters]

our basic plan of attack. we didn't quite mention it, but i think we both became aware very quickly that we had different roles to play this time around, laden with plastic and metal cameras

[never fully integrated with the landscape and peoplescape, the journalism and art of the image-making seeming to set us apart, setting off the whole colorful scene as a subject through which we would only traverse, not participate; all the while mentally framing the perfect shot, the ideal slow-pan, the instant of time-stopped motion capture, the right color and comp balance; juggling digital and lens-reflex at the same time, unsure whether to use up a shot of 35mm, quick estimating depth-of-field and light readings amidst the music and movement]

in our pockets and around our necks. this is not to say we didn't connect with the atmosphere. we ate thick slices of pizza on the grass, laughed at dogs, turned heads at all the pretty girls, stared at the buildings and talked about the rise and fall of venice, the incredible history

[discussed through recursive conversation as only we can, sublimating entire potential tangents through quick reference to past discussions: we've ten years of serious talks under our proverbial belts, so much vocabulary in common, countless in-jokes and previously analyzed models to draw upon for clarity]

concealed beneath two decades of inevitable beach-front gentrification and clean-up. we only occassionally stumbled across throwbacks to the dirty-drought '70s: a damp alley, a cheap-shingled home, a volkswagen vanagon playing the role of shed.
bright dumpsters novelty kiosks
and we found so many images. a dog nearly eating joshua's holga. a police woman with her arms crossed beside an a&w root beer shop. a man playing a fiddle with a two-liter diet pepsi bottle, a young asian boy eating lunch, a man and his conga drum, a blue wall, the setting sun,

[such a thing to be able to see on a whim, any night of the year: the hot center of our solar system descend over ocean, the bulb finally sliding out of site 90 seconds after it alights on the surface of the sea]

disco roller skaters, a coupling of palm trees, rocks stacked carefully along the water's edge, the bustle of the moving crowd, our laughing faces, graffiti artists decorating the many tall wall panels of concrete provided for them close to the shore's edge. we studied the skateboarders carefully, separating from each other, snapping at odd angles, rejoining, exchanging thoughts,

[i never had much skill on a board, but what awe to watch and to think that the whole revolution of freestyle took place here, in this town's school yards and drained pools, a raw subculture developed by a few bored kids as a need, some silly way to cope once the surf died down, a friendly competition that would spread like wildfire]

trading machines, and shooting again. i filmed a small child giggling shirtless on his mother's lap along the edge of the giant sunday drum circle, so busy hunting for the right visual format that i don't even remember hearing any beats from among the hum of a hundred syncopations.
sunlit sighs stacked rocks
but it was the skaters that really got us, used to voyeurs and torists and film students, performing for the camera with the hope that we had newspaper connections

[grinding their way out of sight, botching kick-flips and nollies-to-nowhere, nearly crashing into one-another, landing goofy and flopping over the railing, mid-ramp blunting]

to help them chase the sort of dreams we all have about being recognized for the shit we do that we really care about. evening sunk in. we blew through all our film, and strolled around trying to come up with a good explanation for the unusually high quotient of pretty redheads. josh bought me a frozen lemonade, and we meandered away from the boardwalk and back again. We set up our chessboard right on the windy beach, using my shoes to keep the board from blowing away. we played one game

[while waiting for each of his moves, all i dould think about was the evolution from the dogtown skate revolution to the x games, how remarkable that a few people following their pleasure can start something that goes beyond fashion]

of solid chess, and i slowly beat the pants off of him. nearby, a family began cleaning up the remnants of their picnic area that had been ravaged by gulls. staring at the sea, i made a funny connection,

[remembering my theory that the letter x is the new i, just as i was the new e four years ago, and e was the new x in the early nineties, with the malcom x film, x-treme sports, x-rated x-men and the x-files; but now, surrounded as we are with osx and xp, jason x, xm radio and the nissan xterra, the x games influencing the olympics, xml, xhtml, the x-box and x10 wireless surveilance cameras, there's something more; this time around, x is more than just a letter: it's the criss-cross on a treasure map, the x of your non-signature, the mark on the ground just below your feet, because you have the power to do whatever you want wherever you are with all of these new resources, with whatever tools, passion or junk may be at your disposal, just like the z-boys did; the treasure of revolution is always right under you, and all it takes is an extra little push]

but i didn't bother to speak it outloud. five hours of colorful experience gives you a lot to think about, and it never hurts to wait before you put thoughts into words. words generally come at their own pace, between good friends.
you'll never see this line, hidden forever in black.
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