Portland Monthly’s August issue brings us Oregon’s coolest beaches—and the retro politics that made those beaches free and open to everyone. Both offer essential mental reprieves.
We certainly deserve some long walks on the beach. After last winter’s ice-vortex insanity? (I know at least one person who quit his job and flew to Puerto Rico. Everyone thought about it.) After this spring’s Little Juneuary? (I had to explain to one transplant from—dun-dun-duuuuuhn, cue scary music—Los Angeles that it can be so, so much worse.) Let us wander toward the rolling surf and setting sun. And maybe keep going, zombie-eyed, arms raised, knee-deep then shoulder-deep, until friends or loved ones scramble to pull us back to safety.
Yes, noted: the Oregon coastal experience often involves dressing in multiple waterproof layers and huddling around a beach fire, clutching a beer the same temperature as the surrounding air, and making stoic observations on life’s glorious futility. But we decided to let associate editor Ramona DeNies’s guide to 10 of our greatest beaches bask in the sunlight. Call it editorial license, or an incantation to the Sun Gods. It’s going to be warm and beautiful. It’s going to be warm and beautiful. It's going to be....
Then we have contributor Brent Walth’s look at the political history of Oregon’s beaches. We hold up our free and open coast access as a point of Beaver State pride, elevating us above those states that totally sold out. But Walth’s story explains that it almost didn’t end up this way. What we now take as a quasi-birthright required political cunning, opportunism, and grandstanding. Idealism was involved, but so was ambition counteracting ambition, just as ol’ Jimmy Madison predicted in his hit Federalist 51.
Our People’s Beaches take us to a different world of politics, when big moves served and secured the commonwealth. And the story reminds us, here and now, that our actions will resonate for decades—on point, given current leaders who look upon public land and mostly see fracking opportunities. When the Secretary of the Interior—a product of my home state who seems, as they said at the hippie potlucks and gun stores of my Montana youth, all hat and no cattle—wants to privatize National Park campgrounds, it’s time to hit the dunes with Tom McCall.
See you out there. You gather the driftwood.
Editor in Chief