Season 7, Episode 2
April 17. 2022
One of our earliest episodes of Community Radio had the theme of Division. It was actually episode 7, season 1. And here I am in season 7, 18 months after that episode aired, thinking about one of the greatest divisions of all: the line between land and ocean. The greatest thing about it is how flexible of a line it is. In our world of binaries (on or off; living or dead; wet or dry), land and ocean remind us of the spectrums that exist; there is no clear demarcation when it comes to the border between these two. This is, of course, in large part due to the moon and its effects on the tides. And with the tides come collision, corrosion, erosion, change for the space between land and ocean which we call the coastline.
I am talking about this because of three coastline-related events that occurred on April 17. And of course noted colonizer and most famous man to say, “I know a shortcut” without actually knowing where he was going, Christopher Columbus, is part of this. On April 17, 1492, he signed the Capitulations of Santa Fe, an agreement with the Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. This agreement dictated terms of the momentous voyage which began later that year, bridging the gap between the land of Spain and the Atlantic, between the Atlantic and the islands of the Caribbean, between independence and colonization.
32 years later to the day that the Capitulations were signed, Giovanni da Verrazzano reached New York harbor. His exploration of the Atlantic coast, and the harbor specifically, led to his name being attached to the bridge spanning that body of water.
And over four centuries later in 1961, the Bay of Pigs Invasion was launched. It is another example of the United States’ meddling in other countries affairs, with CIA-trained Cuban exiles landing upon the Cuban coast in the early hours of April 17th. This invasion was ultimately a failure, for reasons I don’t need to discuss here.
These events can be considered as specific moments of collision. Yet they are the result of thousands of antecedents, with thousands more of effects. Like the coastline itself, there is an interplay between objects: between groups of people; between countries; between eras. And certainly, there is an element of destruction.
But the coastline is a space of creation, of possibility, of beauty. We are changed by being there, straddling two worlds. So let us reflect on this most elemental of liminal spaces: the coastline.
To participate in Community Radio, check out this post for details.