The matted, black material at the base of this fountain merited closer inspection. Was it trash? Or perhaps something had gone terribly wrong with the water chemistry.
Not at all, just fishing net. A wonderful touch which brought a smile of recognition. This is Manhattan Beach, California, after all. Apart from utilitarian use made of this netting by the commercial fishing industry, it was a big part of the surf culture decor and once hung from the ceiling of many a shabby beach apartment, including the one I lived in not far from this plaza in the early ’80s. In this town’s determined evolution from funky to upscale, my old apartment building, where I made my first and only rooftop garden, was torn down. All vestiges of this beach town’s former fishnet decor seem to have been successfully obliterated — except for fugitive memories of shag carpet and macramed glass fishing floats snared by this fountain, which anchors a large, new plaza, sharing a wall with the parking structure built on the site of the old Metlox Potteries and bounded on another side by the new Shade Hotel. The shopping complex down the street is the work of Tolkin & Associates and Wade Graham Landscape Studio. I’m not sure if the fishnet fountain is their work as well.
Standing close enough to identify the fishnet in the fountain, I could now see the text running parallel in the paving along the front of the fountain, like the opening to a childhood story told by an old-timer like me:
All of us kids would walk barefoot through the wild areas covered with wildflowers, buttercups, daisies, lupines, brush, statice and other flowers