Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SoCal impressions

Disaster Amnesiac is a term that I nicked from Mike Davis; it appeared somewhere in his essential L.A. book, City of Quartz. The city and its environs, so well documented in that 1990 masterpiece, has often sparked my imagination, be it the music or the film culture or the visual art scene. While Disaster Amnesiac feels comfortable and very much at home in the SF Bay Area, it is often the emanations that come my way from points south that turn me on.  As I sit here today in El Cerrito, the fog of San Francisco Bay cooling my head, I feel compelled write a few words of impression, the impressions of an enamored, admitted tourist.
Mr. and Mrs. Amnesiac's main reason for our brief stay in Oceanside was the fulfillment of a final request of a now deceased relative. Rick C. had spent a few of his later years there, and wanted some of his ashed spread at Ponto Beach. Seeing as we were his only relatives in California, the task fell to us. I just loved the various aspects of beach culture that I saw while staying there: the bright pastel signage, the ever-relaxed and somewhat dazed surfers, the old cars, the ominous June Gloom effect, the Marines from Camp Pendelton, the beach hotties, the grizzled yet somehow just as fabulous beach bums, the evangelical types. It all made for a perfect California swirl within my head. Yes, I know that this may sound like the narcissist raving of a Cali hash head; hell, it most definitely is that. Still, California is my state, so, despite being, really, some 300 miles (483 KM) removed from it, I celebrate, cherish, and love it. Disaster Amnesiac was so glad to be immersed in it, if only for a few days.
Having driven down to SoCal, and having basically done a brief afternoon driving tour of LA proper, I can say that it was a fine way for myself and my wife to take in Tinseltown. We sat in interminable traffic, were jostled by crappy paving, and got cut off by overly-aggressive drivers. We also thoroughly enjoyed taking in the vista of the city from Sunset Strip, swooned at the blue waters of Malibu Beach, marveled at the endless rows of glitzy shops and huge movie advertisements, imagined ourselves watching Hair Rockers crash and burn in Hollywood (I also recited Jack Brewer lines to myself when looking at Pedro Harbor from Santa Monica), felt the very Conservative vibes of Simi Valley and the hidden-away migrant ones of Fillmore and Santa Clarita.
As we headed north, back over the Grapevine, we felt as if we knew our fellow Californians of the southern variety a bit better, and also felt better for it.
Previous to this trip, the  last time that Disaster Amnesiac had been in the  LA area was in 2003. My last action that time featured me splashing around in the water of Malibu Beach, my un-lotioned skin burning in the sun, yelping like a joyful dog as the salt water escaped the sea, into my mouth and out. I really hope that it's not another decade before I get back to SoCal.