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location:depoe bay

Tide Pool Call me Ishmael. Some weeks ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my purse, I received a call from the Captain, an acquaintance I kept at considerable length because of his volatility and often monomaniacal behavior. Right off the Captain hurled insults of unspeakable vulgarity at the "developer class," a group of Americans he labeled as "conceived from a sordid, plutocratic, lubed and three-way coupling between John Rockefellar, Marie Antoinette and a Norway rat." From what I could gather from his fragmented rants and curses, he had recently driven through Depoe Bay, witnessed something hideous, the experience festered, and now he was infected with rage, and quite possibly insane. At present he was in no condition to drive, so he demanded I immediately chauffeur him to Depoe Bay to confront something he called the "Leviathan." I picked up the Captain and was shaken how the veins bulged on his forehead. He wore a greasy, colorless Merchant Marine baseball cap, a pea coat buttoned to his chin, flared Britannia jeans, and black hightop football cleats. He walked with a limp and his face was covered with a sinister five o'clock shadow that brought to mind Richard Nixon or a seedy, younger Kris Kringle. He had a shiner in his right eye and a scar under his left one. Traffic was light and I drove slightly above the speed limit. This wasn't fast enough for the Captain. "I'll give you a Krugerrand if you go 75 miles an hour," he said, pulling the South African gold piece from his pocket and hammering it on the dash. "And turn off that shitty music formerly known as Rock and Roll!" I accepted the bribe and accelerated. The Captain slumped in his seat, tugged his cap down, and said quietly, "Hard down the highway Mr. Ishmael. Hard down the highway." Fifteen minutes later we rounded Boiler Bay and then hit a straight stretch of a road. "Thar she blows!" cried the Captain. "Christ I hate that pretentious 'e'!" There, on a piece of corporately owned Oregon Coast headland, stood the Leviathan: Trendwest Resorts Incorporated's The Resort at Whale Pointe, an expanse of newly constructed, generic, three-story, utterly soulless, time share condominiums that completely obliterate a passing motorist's, bicyclist's or pedestrian's ability to see the ocean or migrating whales. "A drink first," Mr. Ishmael the Captain commanded me. "Yes, a drink," he said. I looked for a bar. The Tidepool suddenly appeared like the Transfiguration, so I pulled in. The Captain stormed in, ordered a double Meyer's Rum neat and then went to a window with a view to Whale Pointe. He was obviously not to be disturbed before his assault on Trendwest. The plan, as far as I could ascertain from his rollercoaster mumblings and ravings in the car was: pose as a buyer, take a tour of a condo, and at some point during the presentation, let loose with a withering volley of anti-corporate, pro-Oregon invective that would reduce the Trendwest lackey to smithereens. While the Captain stewed, I checked out the Tidepool. What a joint! For starters it was practically a labyrinth with all sorts of weird angles, alcoves and passages. There are pool tables, video poker machines, a CD jukebox with Boston's debut album, a framed display of knots, and two aquariums, including the Tidepool's main attraction--a saltwater glass coffin called the Tank of Death. It is packed with all manner of marine creatures caught by local fishermen who bucket in their curious finds and dump them in. Eels, crabs, sea bass, perch, Dick Cheney, octipi and urchins all end up in the mix. "I like to watch the urchins move," said one old man at the bar, Jim, who elaborately described their in-tank migratory patterns. According to the bartender, aquatic creatures regularly stage a battle royal to the death and the tank serves as a Roman arena of savagery and merciless predation--with bets slapped down and accelerated drinking when the water turns a creamy, cloudy red. 'For the love of fucking God!' I thought. 'Don't let the Captain see this!' I ordered another beer and the bartender told me of the great seafood hauled in locally and drink specials: Friday $1 pints of crap domestic beer and something no doubt sinful and dangerous called Bloody Mary Sunday. She also said something about a gender-bending Hooker's Ball on Valentine's Day and that Tanya Tucker once lit up the place. Suddenly, I head the sound of fast-moving glass meet a sturdy wood table. "It's time to go Mr. Ishmael. Finish that sorority lager and let's go harpoon a Whale." I demurred. The Tidepool felt so wonderful, so safe, so sane. My beer was also not yet drained. "Lacking the jewels, eh, Mr. Ishmael?" asked the Captain. He then launched into a fiery extended riff that I can only recount snatches of here: "Fight for the Oregon Coast godammit fuck the developer barons, drank with Ed Abbey, hate those pussy Portland environmental groups and their focus groups, web sites, sandals and sustainability platforms, give me open Oregon headlands or give me death ahhhh Governor Tom, we failed, they drink organic white wine now, write letters to the editor and make public comments!" "I need you Mr. Ishmael!" he said. "Are you with me or do you revel in your graduate degree?" "Hell yes!" I frothed as I pounded my beer. I was with this unhinged Captain and his great cause--to the end--and I swore an oath to help him. I did have doubts whether a Whale Pointe salesman would even meet us considering the Captain's appearance. I asked the Captain this and he roared, "They called me for Chrissakes! Three times at dinner in one month. Bribed me with a trip to Reno if I toured a condo! We have an appointment Mr. Ishmael! Our siege didn't last long. We met the agent and he pitched so smoothly he might have induced the Israelis to cede the West Bank. The units were selling fast, some even sold unseen over the phone to Californians. Buy now or blow it! Trendwest was one of the leading resort companies in the world, flush with cash, liquid as Niagara Falls. In Seaside, the agent proudly told the Captain, the city council had concerns about the height of a proposed Trendwest building because the fire trucks couldn't reach that high. So Trendwest bought the city a new fire truck to seal the deal. "Hey, you guys need a new fire engine?" the agent said, "We'll get you one." The agent explained that Whale Pointe is a fractional ownership arrangement, meaning for $43,000 the buyer gets a 1/13th share, four weeks a year, to enjoy a condo with great views, focus-group art, and half-burned fake "logs" in the "fireplace." There are pool tables, a basketball court, manicured grounds, indoor and outdoor pools, two workout rooms, a jukebox, and arcade games. Of course, no public access exists to the headland. "The way I understand the law," the agent said, "beaches are public, but access is not." I watched the Captain sink deeper into melancholy as the pitch went on. In response to my question on the demographics of the condo purchasers, the agent said: "Most of our buyers are older Oregonians from the Portland area." Upon hearing this, the Captain headed for my car. I joined him a few minutes later. "Let's go back to the Tidepool," I suggested. "Aye, Mr. Ishmaelthe Tidepool--now." I ordered the Captain a double whiskey and dark beer for myself. We drank in silence for a few minutes and then he walked to a window and stared out to the condo roofs. He slammed the drink and raged, "Oregonians...from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee." Across 101 from the Tidepool was the Pacific, and it rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago, but now its waves here made soothing sounds for certain sufferers of what the late Governor Tom McCall called "coastal condomania."
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