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These fiber-based silver gelatin photographs and many others are available for purchase in very small editions.

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I'm so glad I'm standing here today
- Aberdeen, WA -

Russel Kwan
July 2010
The photographs of Tom and Celia are unreleased and not for sale.

Ocean Shores”, beckons the friendly green sign suddenly along the whirling madhouse that is Interstate 5 south of Seattle.  We careen to the offramp, somewhat reflexively, entirely panickly.  Almost instantly, the traffic chaos subsides and we are swept down the wormhole that is US Highway 101.  Time spins backwards and in what seems like 50 miles in 50 years, we are popped out in the little village of Aberdeen.  I say “little village”, but I really mean, “large town, with very few people living there anymore”.  Our journey to the beach interrupted, we pile out into the beautiful, if dilapidated; down, but proudly not out, streetscapes of Aberdeen.  At first glance, Aberdeen seems like just another obsolescent milltown in terminal decay, but a few afternoons spent with a few coffees talking with a few locals shows an entirely different truth.

 “There were times I remember
Had to fight just to hold my head up”

Here, the mills are coming to an end, but the town is still going, still fighting the 21st century.  Both are a little worse for the wear.  We spent some hours down along the waterfront with Tom, master of the one-hundred-and-four year old iron railway swing bridge that spans the murky Wishkah River – walking the history of the bridges, the railway, and all of the buildings along the now almost abandoned waterfront.  Tom is the bridgemaster partly because he has indispensible skills – he’s also a blacksmith – and parts for a century-old iron bridge just have to be made by hand.  It seems perfect in this place: the commerce of the 21st century is kept going by the personal art of a 50s-something man with medieval skills. 

“Come together, raise up your voices
This time my song of love and life won’t go away”

Celia runs the Popcorn Factory at the corner of Wishkah and Broadway, but more importantly (for us), she is the local coffee roaster.  We always and tirelessly hunt down the local coffee roaster because they always have the best stories.  Celia is behind the local Art Walk, leads the downtown revitalization program, and is responsible for creating the bright and dark and shiny and stark graffiti alleys behind Wishkah Street.  That, combined with the coffee purveying, makes her the local expert on anything Tom isn’t.

Town fills up solid for Razor clam season and the big challenge is to get it to fill the rest of the year.  Get the foodies down here!  There is a brimming fresh fruit and veggie market, right next to the butcher shop featuring organic prime beef raised in the area.  It’s found at the west entrance to town along the Olympic highway.  Avert your eyes from the Walmart – these markets are across the street.  Continue out the west side of town and you’ll find yourself at Lytle Seafoods – snack down oysters straight from the bay right outside the shop, and get fish straight off Mike’s boat and smoker.

“I’ll sing forever
Here in the sunshine”

There really is a beach in all of this.  At the end of the by-now-bumpy-winding road, there are a string of little towns that all have that same time-warp feel, not the least of which are Pacific Beach and Moclips.  Actually, I guess Moclips and Pacific Beach are the least – in that they are very small and very remote.  Their charm is in the rustic relics of their time.  In Moclips, that would be the ancient tribute art car memorial to a passed local co-op radio station host (KXPB 89.1FM) and in Pacific Beach, that would be the ranting tirades presented on large signs for everything not to do at the beach.  In passing all that, the beach is, well, everything that life at the beach should be.

“I’ve lived to see the sun break through the storm
I’m so glad I’m standing here today.”

lyrics by Will Jennings and Joe Sample
performed by the Crusaders with Joe Cocker 1980