Every now and then it's good to chew on something from the past. While researching an obituary at the library, I found this interesting newspaper archive, a spin on California women (really the writer includes Californians). Keep in mind this is a 'real' article from the late 60s--so no, I didn't make it up. I'm not sure what to make of it, and this could be because I had a 13 year love affair with the Golden State and am somewhat protective of it, its 'contrasting nature.'
California Is a Study In Contrast by Russell Baker, November 26, 1968. New York Times News Service
SAN FRANCISCO -- California has given American culture two original women. One is the sex goddess. The other is the little old lady in tennis shoes. It is typical of California that the two should be opposing ideas of womanhood and that both should be caricature rather than flesh.
Of all the states, California comes closest to being a state of schizophrenia. It is a mass of opposed ideas which the state has never been able to hold in balance in its mind. Here, opposed ideas tend instead to pull the mind in two and keep California living on the edge of a caricature abounding in Jekylls and Hydes.
For every idea in California, there is an equal and opposed idea. Northern California is one idea, Southern California another. Culturally (as well as geographically) they are as far apart as Massachusetts and Georgia, and just as insistent upon their separate identities.
Politically, California's tendency to yield to the tension of opposed ideas instead of synthesizing them accounts for the unpredictable aberrations which so amuse the rest of the country.
Here the kooks of both right and left are just a little kookier than anywhere else. The John Birch Society flourishes side by side with the anarchists. Max Rafferty springs from the same soil as Earl Warren. The little old lady in the tennis shoes coexists with the Black Panthers.
The split personality is manifest everywhere. What other state would reject a man for its governor, as California rejected Richard Nixon in 1962, then give him its vote for President of the United States, as California did for him in 1968?
Los Angeles has the most affluent Negro community in the United States, yet it was the first to riot. Southern California is basking in wealth produced by federal subsidies for the futuristic-warfare industry, yet it consistently votes for the candidate who scares it most persuasively about the evils of socialism.
At the moment, however, the most violently opposed forces in California are youth and age. In other parts of the country the generation gap may bother the population, but there is little evidence that it enrages and terrifies people as it does here in California.
A week of traveling between Los Angeles and San Francisco leaves the strong impression that out here, in the golden world which has always prided itself upon its youthfulness, zest and appetite for adventure, the young and the middle-aged are glaring at each other across barricades of hostility.
The provocation to the middle-aged, of course, has been the incessant and increasingly violent student demonstrations that have become a commonplace of California life since the 'free speech' movement began at Berkeley several years ago.
Now, in every congregation of the middle-aged, the visitor is almost immediately cross-examined to as certain which side he is on.
One is treated to earnest expositions on the dangers of long hair and advised confidentially that there would be no trouble with the children if it were not for 'outside agitators.'
A lot of the students in California are undoubtedly, as Eric Hoffer argued, just 'having a ball.' Even so, in a community accustomed to synthesizing opposed ideas, it should not be impossible to bring the aging and the young a little closer together.
Why shouldn't the young want to have a ball? It is only natural for the young. Those who are now middle-aged and scared of them had their great adventure with World War II and the survivors built a world where the be all and end all was security and settled into it and became old heroes.
No great wisdom about the young is required to see that to youth an old hero ends by being a bore, or that the security so valued by the tired middle-aged is a poor substitute for youth's need to challenge the world. The old heroes probably made a mistake in believing that their children would be different from them, in expecting them to settle for middle age before they had grown up. They were not and now here, and everywhere else, they are struggling to create artificially some challenges to free them from the boredom of middle-aged security.
It is not likely that this rationalization is going to persuade anyone in California right now. Right now, children and parents in the Golden State are as far apart as the sex goddess and the little old lady in tennis shoes.
It's May 2012 and nothing has changed since November.11. I am all smiles at my relationship and myself. My honey and I continue to amaze each other on a daily basis. We're still ever so 'in' with each other. I completed my MA in literature last May and I'm teaching four college English courses to really smart students. I am hopeful to enter a doctorate program soon. This way, I can run out.All is scary good.
upon hearing your voice life again expands like moon crest like pomegranates swell to the sun and you are patient because god calls
when he came for you this morning you were bent into the flower bed singing black hymns so he left you alone until this third afternoon but even then he found you elbow deep in jewel weed with a mouthful of figs from a nearby tree again he waited because each time seemed to him an inconvenience and a wrong moment
and it was your persistent humming that drove him up and back until he could get his timing perfect he waited another day or so until
your gardening tools rest into porch corners your paring knife shines deeply into a drawer your hair comb lies slanted in a shoebox your wedding band hides in the mattress your fishing rod stays stolen
the sound of your voice desires to sing or hum but this time is perfect he has covered you like lavender-colored silence but he has also added streaks of olive green and pink because this is what the other soul-folk has told him to do and he has become tired in the process and therefore begins to rush sonances of your body he finds you the least complex when you are not outdoors digging in that garden, humming hymns and thriving and for a moment he questions his own timing its perfection and everything goes accordingly until he finds you have buried fruit peels and wandering jew petals underneath your back this does not anger him but it tilts his agility to deliver you and in his own questioning and presence of smells that he cannot privilege all this over powers his choice all this reels his otherwise perfection into letting you go
when i see you sitting in the plush squares of limitless St. Augustine your eyes are lit like crystal warmed soil releases from each of your hands
how did i get to this point this point of knowing you for you are nearly a century old