But don't cry for Wyland: According to his websites, he is opening restaurants and galleries all over the country, and branching out to offer Wyland cruises and excursions, not to mention music. You've got to give this energetic creative credit for entrepreneurship.
In the end, Wyland's fit of pique resulted in the Coastal Commission launching a search for a new "whale tail" image through a competitive process, and, like any bureaucratic project, it's been years in the making.
The new image is a far cry from the tail that Wyland produced, which evoked a humpback moving languidly through the sea mist.
To me, the new whale tail looks more like a salmon or trout tail. But it does resemble a Wyland-designed whale tail on a similar Florida license plate program. Evidently there just isn't that much diversity in the business of whale-tail designing.
It took two artists to come up with the new whale tail license plate, and they will be paid $1,000 each for their services, according to a commission spokesman. And you can bet that this time the state got it all down in writing.
Interestingly, the Wyland Foundation website is still promoting the whale tail and has itself listed as one of the recipients of funds generated by the whale tail plate. But apparently there are still bitter feelings about the whole whale affair.
"We would say that the new design seems like a poor imitation of a Wyland artwork," Creech said in his email. "That being said, however, we've got more important issues to worry about and would like to put this behind us. We had hoped that Wyland might have been publicly recognized by Peter Douglas and the Coastal Commission for his service to the state of California for nearly 20 years, but there doesn't seem to be any intention from them to do that."
Maybe Wyland is hoping Douglas will send him a greeting for his 55th birthday and a donation for the Wyland Foundation's birthday wish fundraising drive. We'll get back to you on that.
But if you, like me, prefer the original whale tail, you're out of luck. The Wyland license plate design "is no longer available," according to the commission.
CINDY FRAZIER is city editor of the Coastline Pilot. She can be contacted at (949) 302-1469 or email@example.com.