This Land is My Land, This Land is My Land

Well, a friend of mine and i played a gig last night at a place called Wild Dunes, "a private, relaxed and engaging community located along the northern edge of Isle of Palms."

Like so many other places around here, Wild Dunes is a gated community. A person has to stop at a guard shack before entering and pick up a permission slip allowing you to be there. Unlike Kiawah, however, you don't actually have to report where you're going or how long you'll be there. Once you pass that first test at Wild Dunes, you're good to go. WhooHoo!

Wild Dunes has been in the local news quite a bit over the past few years because it's washing away into the ocean. The reason for this, of course, is because it was built on sand dunes. Hence the name. The people of Wild Dunes--and i'm not sure by saying "people of Wild Dunes" i mean people-that-actually-live-there, or i mean administrators-paid-to-perform-community-oriented-tasks-usually-associated-with-"living somewhere"--have been piling up sand bags on what's left of the beach to stop the ocean from washing away their homes.

The sand bag thing has proven to be a real problem, too. The ocean--what with it's penchant to always be moving and everything--has been tearing up the sandbags. When this happens, the sand simply falls to the ground (no problem), but the bags themselves wash out into the sea and cause problems for things that live out there. This ostensibly doesn't sit well with some sort of larger city, or state, or federal board, who additionally refuse to allow the "people of Wild Dunes" to commence the 10 million dollar dredging and beach re-nourishment program that would help stop the natural and 11 trillion year old process of erosion.

Anyway, i was being paid to stand in a little amphitheater with my friend and provide live music to anyone that happened to stroll by. This, of course, was meant to recreate what might happen in a less-managed society: you know, two buddies decide to sit in a park and play their guitars. Passersby are welcome to come and enjoy. They were having to pay me because musicians that might actually sit in a park and play guitar cannot afford to live somewhere like Wild Dunes. Neither can police officers, fire fighters, bellhops, the guy that got me an extension cord, or the person that gave us our permission slip at the guard shack.

Mostly, we were playing for kids. Fortunately we were told beforehand that would be the case and came prepared. We had with us a few percussion instruments to hand out and allow our smaller audience members to play along. Three year old Meg, for instance, shook the Egg. (I had a good time with that one.) However, she would shake and shake until it was her turn to take a solo, and then she would resolutely refuse to shake a note. So during Mama Don't 'low, Meg would shake with all her might until we would get to part that says "we don't care what mama don't 'low, Meg's gonna shake that egg anyhow" and then...crickets. Meg later told me that she was having problems because she liked her white beach house much better than this one. I cut her some slack.

So we played lots of songs suitable for children. That's the reason i figured my partner started singing Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land, a folk song considered by many to be kid-like, but actually a cynical masterpiece written in response to God Bless America. I wasn't even really thinking about the irony until my friend started singing the not-quite-so-well-known "tress passin" verse:

as i was walking, i saw a sign there
and that sign said, no tress passin
but on the other side, it didn't say nothin!
now that side was made for you and me.


Syd said...

The people who build their houses on sand (dunes) just don't get it. Orin Pilkey, a geologist from NC, has been trying to tell people for years that barrier islands are dynamic. But as long as the federal government bails them out when hurricanes, erosion, and other natural events happen, they'll keep building on sand. There actually is another area in Wild Dunes (Ocean Point) that you can't get into --it's a gate within a gate. Wonder who they are keeping out or are they keeping themselves in?

Curtis said...

You know, there's a gated community or two in Cookeville now. There are places I can understand gating (though I may not actually approve of it), but Cookeville? Who are they trying to keep out? Or are they trying to keep someone IN? Always reminds me of Auntie Mame, when her inlaws announced they were buying the kids a house in an "exclusive, restricted community." Mame said, "Exclusively what and restricted to whom?" Then she built a home for refugee Jewish children next door.

Quiche said...

The wise man builds his house upon the rock...erosion from a spiritual perspective (: Your description makes me miss the Outer Banks up around the Bogue Inlet and Emerald Isle. It's beautiful, but I wouldn't build a house on the beach- more inland, and walk or ride a bike to the beach.

Kenneth said...

I've found myself playing for children many times over the years. It's fun. Kids love music. They love to dance. Some years back I found myself singing at a beach volleyball tournament (don't ask), and although all the adults were off playing volleyball, the kids lined up in rows to listen. Afterward a lad of about 6 told me we were his favorite group.