Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fun With Your New Head

When I was a child and growing up into a young adult, California was a crucible of emerging American culture and in those days, being in that crucible was kind of fun. It's true that it was a crucible for economic change, political change, and religious change and that wasn't always fun but there was a lot of other stuff going on. There was philosophy, lifestyle, literature, music, every kind of media all changing and spreading out around us and to ease whatever discomfort anyone was feeling, there were always lots of various narcotic substances to ease the anxiety and pain.

A lot of things that started in California ended up spreading all across the country. It never was exactly the same because everything kept changing as it spread from place to place but there was no question that a lot of the changes in American culture over the last 50-60 years started here.

A lot of people think that's changed. They're wrong. California is still the major crucible of changing American culture and that culture is spreading out to the rest of the country. The difference is that the changes of today aren't exciting or fun. The changes taking place in California today involve the assimilation into American society of huge new waves of immigrants. Immigrants from places that America has never had before. They have much different cultures, religions and racial origins than previous large waves of immigrants. Not all of them have come here covertly and illegally but a lot of them have. We're all here together, basking in the same Sunshine. Drinking the same water piped in from the Owens Valley and the Colorado River. Breathing the same air trapped under the inversion layer and shitting into the same sewers that flush into the Great South Bay. Hammering out a new society together. Always together.

Couple of things you should know before you scoff at us, call us bad names or blame us for the scourges we bring among you. Nobody here had any choice. No choice from the end of World War II to the 60s, when the fun stuff was happening and no choice now. This is just the place where all the stuff happens first and the basic rules get written. You do whatever you want with it. We're busy. We're starting on new stuff now that you're not even going to believe when it shows up in your town in a few years.

All the stuff is coming to you. Look around. A lot of it is already wherever you are and plenty more to come. You're welcome.


Contrary said...

You're right about California being the beacon of innovation, etc. I grew up in the midwest and everything we heard about California was cool and hip. The Beach Boys defined the tone.

I was disappointed by southern California though when I finally got there. Didn't like southern California at all. Years later I visited northern California (Sebastapol area) for the summer and really liked it.

reddog said...

Yeah, it's not like people think. Never was.

Wages are low, life is hard and only the beautiful people are beautiful. That's why we're such a crucible for the rest of the country.