America likes to think of itself as a be-coastal country–at least the people on the coasts do. The implication is that the coasts are the same and that compared with the vast interior, where the tornadoes are, they share a beach culture. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially when comparing Southern California with the Northeast.
Californians if asked if they have ever seen a greenheaded fly, are likely to wonder if Vincent Price was in the movie, little realizing the fly is feared by eastern beach goers. Along with the greenhead, the horse fly, the “no-see’ums’ and the deer fly are all happy grazing on the flesh of unwary sunbathers. Californians on the other hand, can look to skies empty of the blood-sucking critters that can clear an Eastern beach in no time.
Other contrasts are cultural. Easterners go to the shore; Californians visit the beach. Easterners can’t always get to the shore as there are lots of private beaches, especially in Connecticut and often it also means paying hefty parking fees. Southern Californians on the other hand can visit (on the convenient freeways) the many state, federal and municipal public beaches with low parking fees. They may object to government, but they do like a public beach.
Easterners love to remind Californians that they live with the daily threat of earthquakes. But the East Coast gets pummeled by nasty storms. Hurricanes and nor’easters can do just as much damage as an unfriendly temblor, especially to the beaches. Sand is always going out to sea regardless of the prodigious works of the Army Corps of Engineers. Far Rockaway in New York has the record having had over $60 million spent on sand replenishments and the most recent renewal is already heading out to sea. We Westerners have to pay Federal taxes to keep the East Coast in sand. If, as predicted, the number of hurricanes increases, then Eastern beaches are likely to be good places only for geologist who go to pick up rocks and for engineers who will want to create ever longer, dikes, berms, and gores to keep the beach close to the shore. Californians can always retreat to the beach after the earthquakes roll through, although they might have to dodge the tsunami. The beach season in the Northeast is highly seasonal. Come September the chill drives sunbathers from the sand. Californians on the other hand know the joys of endless summer. For them the beach is a way of life. Whoever heard of a Massachusetts beach bum, let alone a New Jersey surfer dude.
Californians can also engage in the quest to see the green flash just as the sun sets in the ocean, and they can do it year round. On a January evening, they can pull of their in-line skates, untangle the Ipod cord, walk past the volleyball players, and settle into the sand to await the sunset.
Who cares about the shore when you can have a real beach?