Absolutely, totally OT: Strandbeest

“Strandbeest” is Dutch for “animal that lives on the beach.” These are large, wind-driven kinetic sculptures that walk on the beach. Made by artist Theo Jansen out of plastic tubing and ties, they are rather mesmerizing. Each type is different.




I have a late acquired (2010) Dutch goddaughter, bright and cheerful but starcrossed, defying tragedy, born without a right hand yet defying self pity let alone tragic airs, who Theo Jansen appointed as a “herder of the strandbeest bio-mechanisms.”

When she was only six, and riding her first bicycle with me running alongside, I suddenly remembered my childhood favorite picture book, H.C.Holling’s gorgeous Minn of the Mississippi, the story of a snapping turtle who loses one of her limbs to malicious rifleshot but goes on to a long glorious life on the Mississippi.


I found a copy in Amsterdam and gave it to her and she has slept with it under her pillow for years, learning English, American geography, and enducements to gleeful grit ever since.

david fb
(Ik ben dol op de strandbeest sinds de eerste liep.) And no surprise I adore the Dutch, who are even weirder than the weird Finns once you get to know them more than superficially. Their humor is, well, from another galaxy.