Friday, August 17, 2007

california dreamin

ok so when i said i'd write a city review of san francisco "soon" i kind of meant "i don't ever plan on doing that but maybe if the mood strikes me, i will." but if you'll forgive the fact that i constantly make promises i can't keep, we can all move on and i'll promise to post more here on out.

anyways i lied. i don't feel like reviewing san fran anymore. what i DO feel like doing is pondering for a second the whole "california" culture. my impending move to new york and my recent trip to san francisco have forced me to confront my various hopes and dreams about what these cities i've always wanted to live in are actually like. and here's my take on the...

now i'm not actually judging the entire west coast, mainly because i haven't really seen most of it. but i do know that as a chicago-born liberal hippie-type child, all through college i had secret dreams of getting the hell out of boston and going to live in the bay area where everyone is cool and hip and gay and eats organic foods and finds inner peace in the sunlight. i've always sort of secretly planned on getting into UC berkeley and going there for grad school, although up until recently i had never even seen the bay area. half of my friends (mainly those FROM the bay area) told me i'd love it. the other half told me it was "odd" and wouldn't elaborate. so i was wildly curious. turns out they were both a little right.

so after spending some time in the bay area i tried to pin down what was "odd" about it. its easy to say what i love - its warm outside most of the time, there are fun and hip cafes everywhere and bookstores like city lights where you can buy previously unpublished james baldwin plays and books of poetry by sonia sanchez. but at the same time i was constantly uncomfortable. sure everyone in san francisco kind of LOOKS gay, but it turns out they're not. and then when you scratch the surface even more, it turns out they're not real hippies either. yeah they might not shower, but they also don't seem to care that much about the world either. of course i'm generalizing, but it seemed to me that the bay area was overrun with people who are too good for the conservative, uptight rest of the country, but also too happy in california to care. racism doesn't exist there, so people will look at you strange if you notice it, and everyone is vegan because they care about the animals, or because its cool, or something... but the idea that being vegan might be a tad too expensive for some PEOPLE is as surprising to them as the amount of very public poverty and homelessness in the city was to me.

so in conclusion, the jury's still out on california. i'm not trying to diss all of california because i haven't even spent that much time there, and you know, places are full of lots of different people. but nonetheless, my job is to arbitrarily judge, so my word of the day for the west coast is "escapism." it seems like a good place to be if you want to live the dream and are willing to ignore a hell of a lot of stuff to do it. i hate to be that east coast "i'd rather be stressed out about the world all the time" person (actually i hate to be that east coast any kind of person. i'm from the midwest dammit) but i mean come on. i don't need to be stressed, but if given the choice between stressed and oblivious, i guess i'll grudgingly drag myself over to new york and throw myself into the stress. i'll let you know what i think of THAT at a later date.


Brittany said...

you love new york.
or at least you love me.
and I am in new york- so booYAH!

Kate said...

ha i remember the day we learned about escapism together. remember ms. baker introducing that kingsolver novel as escapist literature? and then she scoffed at all the material she had to teach about it. hahaha good times. maybe california is sort of like animal dreams....

ps *i* need to remind you that the midwest is pretty much the best, so we'll see you in grad school at uchicago one year from now. over and out.

chicanoindio said...

Go to the mission - visit oakland!
The city is playland for those with money. juan