RANGER AGAINST WAR: California Dreamin' <

Friday, May 29, 2009

California Dreamin'

So friend Gordon posed the question via email: Are you going to write your impressions of California?

Some quickies a la de Tocqueville, understanding your property taxes are huge and your state is soon to be bankrupt, and some of your municipal services are already closing on Fridays.

Still . . .

"Humans and animals singing in safety and joy. . ." Maybe a little nuts, but to be nuts for compassion may not be so bad. This was the poster for an animal benefit outside of the Pinecone Restaurant in Sebastopol tonight. That says "California" to me.

The Pinecone was chosen because it had a homely neon sign that said "Pinecone" and "Good Food," and the presumption was this would be a down-home diner serving American cuisine, such as it is. But no, it was Indian cuisine, and served an excellent curry alongside a fanstastic Irish trio of an upright bassist, accordion/flautist and bodhran player. It is that comfortable melange that seems to characterize these areas.

The trip has been solely Northern California, and the pleasures are as follows:

  • Good food
  • No blaring rap music
  • Microclimates (in Florida, you must travel 10 hours before the climate begins an almost imperceptable shift.)
  • No mosquitoes or fleas
  • Microbreweries and wineries
  • Newspaper editors who meet regularly at coffee shops with local citizens to discuss issues
  • Beautiful coast
  • $1,000 littering fees
  • And something more ephemeral. . .

The Mendocino Bulletin advertised for the Caspar Community Center Flea Market and 4th Sunday Breakfast: "Bacon and potato frittata, Mexican egg bake, banana pancakes, a gluten-free frittata and rhubrab coffee cake." Pancake breakfasts do not have to be Dixie Lily white flour + Karo corn syrup affairs.

One could say simply, "It is not the East Coast," but how to capture that vibe? "Less petty," perhaps. There is a languor and perverseness in the Southeast. Tennessee Williams and Flannery O'Connor capture it well. People seem to work out here -- to do things. They wear fleece and move about. The weather shifts, and they adapt. In the SE, they shiver.

One cannot witness a whole truth in a couple of weeks, but it seems there is a helpfulness and cheeriness, even in the working class areas. An acceptance of multiplicities. We haven't been in any real gritty areas, but the people we have met are generally helpful and upbeat.

A little more optimism and curiosity, perhaps. Even in these difficult times.

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Anonymous sheerahkahn said...

I like Sebastopol, though I only go there once in a while to the Celtic music festival they have there. Usually it is Connie Dover that drags my wife and I to challenge the drive through San Francisco to get there.
Nice drive up once you get beyond the traffic...which..um...takes a bit.
Fort Bragg is where some of my family used to live before they decided that "somewhere else" was better. Personally, I wish them all well, but I don't keep track of them anymore. Too much "rooting up" and moving on.

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 9:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Gordon said...

Don't worry about California going bankrupt. Only the truly needy of healthcare, education, and maybe a place to live will suffer. The prison guards will be fine. (Disgusted irony)

Our property taxes are based on 1% of the value of our homes at the time of purchase, plus a 2% rise per year plus more and more 'special assessments'. If you have lived in one place for a long time, it's not too bad. If you just bought at our overinflated prices, God help you.

We have friends who live to play Celtic, and they jam with various others of that ilk at an Irish-style pub in Squaw Valley. We love that stuff and go hear them fairly often. The Bluegrassers they used to play with say they have gone over to the 'Dark Side'. Heh.

By the way, if ya want a little instant air conditioning, have the bagpiper start playing indoors. The windows will be out in the street!

The 'whole truth' about California can be summed up thus: Too many people, too little water, too much regulation and taxes, the most varied geology and scenery in the lowere 48, and only one real city, although it runs from the Golden Gate to the Mexican border - San Frandiego.

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 12:05:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Gordon said...

California in a nutshell.

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 12:49:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


We create our family, and sometimes the one into which we are born is not the most well-suited. Like Gibrahn said, children come through us, but they are not ours.


I adore pipers, and they often bring me to tears. My great-grandfather was from the Dundee area.

Too many people, period. It will be our undoing. The earth will reach its carrying capacity one day soon, and then we will see the real plague.

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 2:28:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

when i think of California i think of this song..... the way..... totally irresponsible but at the same time totally kewl.....

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 7:43:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Gordon said...

GD, the title of the album that song is on really describes CA - "All The Pain Money Can Buy". Heh.

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 9:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...


Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 9:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I'm reading Seymor Hersch's Chain of Command,2005 , and it really beats the rational for the war in AFGH into little pieces of garbage.
I haven't read this before but i'd suggest you give it a read.

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 8:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

on such a winter's day.

don't worry, the mosquitos will be out in force later in the season.

Monday, June 1, 2009 at 8:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't there offen enought so I listen.
Have a great time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 7:07:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


But do their mosquitoes have permanent, year-round squatter's rights?!


Do you read Blake Gray's wine blog? I thought I saw you there. (He is a long-time friend of mine.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 3:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa, Yep just happen on to it and I enjoy Calif. wines. I use to wonder through Napa, Alexander Valley when it still had apple orchards on the way to Casper and Fort Bragg. I sure miss the area.
Have great time in the State and we aren't going under as every one says, just sideways until we become the leaders in all thing good for mother Earth.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 10:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous sheerahkahn said...

Well, Seymour Hersch has the unfortunate position of relating information that I cannot easily verify...so it tends to be, for me at least, wait and see.
I'll have to read the book later because currently I'm slogging through The Tao of Deception by Ralph D. Sawyer...a very dense reading of early Chinese theory and practice of warfare and how it is applied to todays Chinese war planning.
If there is anything left in my skull after I'm done I'll try to read his book next, but no promises...this one is eating up a lot of my thinking right now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 10:33:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thanks for The Way.


Your name says it all -- of course you're a connoisseur. Blake's a dear friend and we dined with him twice while in SF.

He warned me off Napa as I'm not pretentious enough, and the Sonoma and Alexander Valleys were good suggestions for me.

Like he says, going on wine tours is "what they do today," but it used to be only the hardcore drinkers, er, oenophiles, who traveled the valleys in search of the perfect grape.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 6:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Publius said...

Ah, Ranger, you're seeing California as it is now. I see California as it was. I am a native Californian, born in Los Angeles too many years ago.

The California of my youth was an idyllic place. I can't think of a better place to grow up than California in the 50s and 60s. I went to war from California and actually came back to Los Angeles as a soldier, I guess because fate decreed I would meet my future wife there. We were married in Los Angeles and spent about a year there until the Army decided I needed to go back to Asia even though I hadn't lost anything there. After a year of school in the D.C. area, I left my bride and one-month old daughter and trucked on off for more glory.

With the exception of one year in Monterey in the 70s, we spent the next 20 years or so out of California, mostly overseas and in the Washington, D.C., area.

Then we moved back to the area where you are now, sampling the wines and enjoying the weather. We spent the next 16 years in California, counting down until retirement. Then we got out of there as fast as we could. Sold the house for three times what we paid for it and split, because we had gotten to the point where we couldn't stand California any more.

I weep for California. Just as I weep for the nation, because California is always the leading edge for the nation.

Enjoy your time in California. What once was is no longer and what is now will soon be gone as well.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 11:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I hear you . BTW I saw CA for the first time passing thru SF enroute to Travis AFB then to the Asian version of Disneyland.

Indeed Ca is beautiful , but little really enchants me- everything would be better IF there were less people spoiling the countryside.We should have a lottery and let the winners be cremated after dispatch. This would ease up on the environment and create more room for others. It would solve the Social security some future problems also. This ultimately makes me a non-pro-lifer.
I commonly say- it doesn't matter where one lives since we really live inside our heads. Externals do not equate to happiness.
Our trip really led to some thoughts that i'll probably develope this week. I didn't write while travelling b/c i'm rather burned out. My feelings mirror yours- I think.
My trip was nice b/c I saw a old friend Harrison Jack, one of the only WP'ers that I ever liked. He looked fit and hardy. We also met Charly Giddings for an afternoon talk.

Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 9:50:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

The SH, Chain of Command at the time written was unverifiable due to protecting sources etc...which is legit since the only sources willing to talk normally are still active with the govt in some capacity. SM protects his sources and I trust his integrity over our pimp leaders.
In addition time has proven the truth of his articles.

Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 10:02:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I wrote the piece because I was impressed by some things. I hear you, though, and surely you've seen its come down, but that goes for everything. It is the Thomas Wolfe phenomenon.

It sounds like you profited handsomely by the growth, and are bemoaning the idylls of your youth. Myself, I feel our unbridled population growth will be the downfall of our planet.

But I am still impressed by the CA can-do ethos I saw. The Deep South lacks for the idea of personal re-creation, and I believe it is a psychological holdover from the Civil War. When one has nothing, one often becomes a braggart.

Ask any Southerner: their kids are the best, their wives the prettiest, their aunties and third cousins are wonders -- even if we're talking Ricky Bobby spawn.

Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 10:08:00 AM GMT-5  

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