Tuesday, September 28, 2010

THE day…Coastal Clean Up Day.

This is our Ramadan, our Easter, our Diwali, our Yom Kippur. And this is a day of days for us, we being the poster kids for the 2010 CCD.

Today is warm and windless. No fog. Glassy four-foot swells roll in… and in. . . For the novice the beach looks pretty clean, but for us, the slightest glimpse of shape and color gets us stooping and scrabbling in the sand. We have become virtuosi at finding interesting things, almost invisible things, lost in the sweep of sand. We're always on the hunt for things that open up the big story of plastic — the synthetic background of our world. In the fall when the plastic is minimal it takes a well-practiced eye to pickthings out of the organic debris.
A speck of blue pulled from the sand reveals bitty sunglasses from a Bratz® doll. The Bratz® family is burgeoning with over 500 members carrying names like Roxxy Spice and Sugar Shoes Dana. Bratz® superseded Barbie® as the #1 seller and she's blatantly sexualized even compared to Barbie®. She's a very liberated young woman all right, but seems liberated to dance around a brass pole. Her outfits come right out of a stripper catalogue. Fishnet stockings, platform shoes and leather miniskirts caused the American Psychological Association to raise an alarm in their report—APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls.

The Bratz® girls, it turns out, are also no strangers to the courtroom. She's endured many and ongoing copyright lawsuits, accusations of racketeering, and the National Labor Committee reports that workers who make the Bratz® line, labor 94.5 hours a week earning $48.20. http://www.nlcnet.org/reports?id=0254. After a year's hiatus, on 10/10/10, a new line of Bratz® will be released, keeping the flow of desire gushing. Oh, the world of manufactured desire, plasticizing the hierarchy of our profligacy, equalized by a glut of disposable goods.

We are always in a kind of Ayn Randian competition to be the supreme master of finding. Our animus for being the best began with "disposable" lighters but once we had found hundreds, our hierarchy inclined toward the most unusual, the hardest to spot, the piece that tells the best story. Today was a good day for all categories. The Bratz® glasses tell an international story of toy intrigue.

The beige bull, well camouflaged in the sand, emerging as if out of a prehistoric cave has all the look of a victor for it's concealed placement in the shadow of a log.

The toy tank with a crust of Bryozoan houses speaks of age and the allure of detail. http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/bryozoa/bryozoa.html

But, the diminutive pink spoon with a heart speaks of the part of this journey that is a love story.
The little pink heart...
When we arrived at the cliff that marks the end of "our part" of the beach—after all that stoop labor—we lay in the sand and slept for a bit curled like seals. As we walked back with our load for the day we were unintentionally silent. It's a fine thing to be with another in a silent reverie — continuing our vocation at Kehoe Beach.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Barbie's Comb

Wherever there are people there are combs. Combs made of bone and shell and ivory survive from 5000 years ago. The first combs were made as decorative ornaments. They not only kept hair in place, but there is evidence that they were used to clean hair of parasites. Speaking of which, some say the bubonic plague was spread by fleas passed along in nit-picking combs.
The plastic comb arrived in the mid-nineteenth century when an early plastic, Parkesine or Celluloid, replaced tortoise shell and elephant ivory. In fact, one of the first uses of plastic was in the manufacture of combs.
In the welter of combs we've found over the years we have two Barbie combs. Imagine finding that tiny toy groomer in the vast expanse of sand and surf.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

2010 Coastal CleanUP Day Posters

For information about how to participate in Coastal Clean UP Day events:
Our poster designs are available for download as flyers from the California Coastal Commission site:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Back of the Bus

Given this very public presence, we are thrilled that our art can play a role in addressing real world problems and in this case - plastic pollution. The back of the bus is not where we had ever imagined our work displayed but now we see that it is a site for big visibility and maximum impact.

We never could have imagined that from 1 KM of remote sand, we would connect to an issue impacting the entire planet. Needless to say, we are grateful for the opportunity to present our story and hopefully will inspire others to start something too- even something so crazy as picking up plastic one piece at a time- now over two tons of it - picked up one piece at a time.

Coastal Clean UP Day is Saturday, September 25.
We hope that you will join us.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Imagine a handful of pull tabs from plastic drink bottles. Now imagine an overflowing bushel basket full of pull tabs. This is what we've picked up on Kehoe Beach. Now imagine choosing glass bottles when you go to the superette. Glass recycles 100's of times. Plastic almost never but sometimes once. What is the true cost of cheap plastic? Let's sharpen our pencils and do some figgerin'…

Friday, September 3, 2010

Gone Green

Dear Kraft Foods,

Since our last communiqué we have continued to collect plastic debris from one kilometer of one beach, Kehoe Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore.

To date, we have found many hundreds of the little red plastic spreaders used in Kraft Handi-Snack cheese and cracker kits. We are writing to ask once again that this bit of the plastic effluvia be eliminated from the flow into the oceans.- perhaps by making it from something sustainable like bamboo.

You can imagine our delight when last month we found one of your little sticks in GREEN plastic. “Kraft’s gone green!!!” we exclaimed. Maybe you are getting the message after all? However, dear Kraft Foods, you remain unclear of the concept.