I was I California for a few days or was I? I’m from the Northeast and lived there too long to ever get California. California is beautiful. And thin.
Southern California seems to me like some magnificently dramatic sand dunes covered with a tenuous topping of conditional vegetation. Over the weekend that vegetation was green and lush. The savannah-like topography of the areas I was in, with meadow punctuated by trees was stunning in its undulating majesty. Wildflowers bloomed and grasses billowed along in the breeze. But when rainfall stops, the brown lurks. And fire. And when the rains pour, the unstable ground has a tendency to give way. Appropriately, the vegetation is a corollary to the architecture, which owes something to the impermanence of movie sets. Los Angeles was the first place I ever walked past a wall and knocked on it, only to discover it was hollow. (This style has spread across the land.) All in all, beautiful, but in a hotel architecture sort of way, which I’ve described as “surfaces preparing to de-laminate.” I was attending the wedding of a friend, and you will never catch me describing marriage as surfaces preparing to de-laminate. I stayed in Solvang, a quintessential…something. You can look it up.
The east envies California for its beauty, and because American culture has for so long been driven by California. The East is old, cold, and tired. But things are starting to even out. Starting with New York City, old eastern cities are coming back to life. Washington is positively sparkly, the coolest version possible of a land of Former Student Council Presidents, and you can come to your own conclusions about that. But California in the middle third of the 20th Century! It it hadn’t happened, you’d have to invent a screenplay about it, which of course, it is.