Tag Archives: California

This Land is My Land

CaliforniaIf you’ve been reading this blog for as long as I’ve been writing it you can’t help but have noticed that I have kind of a love/hate relationship with folk music and all of its trappings. Ok, perhaps hate is a too strong a word. It’s more of an “I like the music but not so much the going to see the music” thing really. Especially now. You see folk music tends to be a phenomenon that is particularly appealing to members of my era which means that most of the people surrounding me at any given concert are also from my era, give or take a few years which at this point in life becomes rather irrelevant, not to mention too difficult to discern. So what’s the problem? First, let’s face it. We don’t all look as good in our Levis as we apparently think we do. Then there’s the realization that each and every time I’m in a room with my peers I feel as though I am confronting my own mortality. Can’t really put my finger on it but I’m guessing it makes the realities of life just a little too vivid, and certainly more than any self-respecting shallow gal is wont to think about. So trust me when I tell you that it is somewhat of a struggle for me to reconcile my thoughts with my subsequent actions. This time however the tickets were bought, I was over my cold and there was no turning back.

So once again this past weekend I found myself sitting amongst a crowd of folks who were chowing down on their plates of perogies and cabbage rolls (if I were them I’d take it easy on the sour cream) waiting for the night’s entertainment to begin all the while thinking to myself how much things have changed and how much they haven’t. Because for as long as I’ve been listening to folk music it has been pretty clear what these “folks” are going to be singing about. If you’ve been known to take a bet, and I know some of you have, you can put your money on the table that there’s going to be a song about love lost and love found, not necessarily in that order. At some point you’ll be “goin’ down the road” and whether it wends it’s way through the gritty downtown streets of El Paso or the snow-capped rocky mountains likely depends on your country of origin. There’s going to be songs about dreams, for times past and times to come and very likely a protest song or two about a war, or an injustice or possibly eating meat. Before the night is out, if your entertainer is worth their salt, you’ll be singing along to a chorus of “we shall overcome” or something written by Woody Guthrie. But as I sat and listened to the opening act that night it occurred to me that more often than not somewhere, mixed in with the dreams and love and protests and singalongs, there’s going to be a song about California. Which I have to say surprises me just a little bit because California has never really struck me as a place that people who are otherwise introspective and often profound would want to sing about. Before you get too excited, it’s not that I think California is some kind of mecca for shallow people but I do spend a fair bit of time there and it seems to be a pretty good fit. And you gotta admit it’s a tad laid back and there are pockets of, how can I put this gently, complacency. Though who can blame them? They’ve got the ocean, the mountains and some of the best weather in the United States of America. What’s to complain about?

So, at the risk of sounding a little territorial I have to say that there are some boundaries being crossed here. Think about it. There’s no shortage of things in this world for folk people to sing about. I mean let’s face it. There are plenty of wars to protest, injustices to decry and meat eaters to convert. If all else fails, surely to goodness there’s a song to be sung about the “one percent”. But us shallow people, well we don’t have a whole lot in this world to focus our attention on. But California. This land is my land. You know I don’t like telling others what to do and I really hate to sound presumptuous but I would like to pass on a piece of advice to all of the aspiring, singer/songwriters out there. Here it is.

“You ain’t gonna find a cause at Hollywood and Vine.
So I’ll stay off your streets if you’ll stay off mine.

Wow! Now that I’ve said it I think it would make one heck of a chorus.

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By the Deep Blue Sea

my_sunglassesI’ll be the first to admit that I’m struggling a little here. Most of you don’t know this but I hate the cold which is more than a little ironic given that many, many, many years ago I moved from a somewhat moderate Canadian climate to one of the coldest cities in the country. That’s why, now that I am entering my more golden years, I chose to spend at least a portion of the frosty season in the southernmost part of California where the temps fall well within my rather limited comfort range and the livin’ is easy. It’s pretty nice here, what with the miles and miles of sparsely populated beaches that provide a sidewalk both north and south to possibly the best ocean view Starbuck’s patios this side of the Rockies. And now that you know this you’re perplexed and wondering what the heck I am struggling with. Well let me tell you.

I know you’re thinking that this part of the country in particular is a mecca for those of us who subscribe to the shallow way of life because, from all that we see and hear, that’s what we know to be true. I mean this *is* California, the centre of blatant and unabashed consumerism and the birthplace of those “Housewives”. Well I was with you on this one, that is until I got here. The first inkling I had that my expectations were not to be met occurred on the morning after arrival when I embarked on my inaugural visit to Costco, making my way along Coastal Highway 101 past the surf shops and the local pizza joints. The vistas are truly spectacular so it would be easy to miss the small sign, but not so much the temple like archway that serves as the entrance to the “Self-Realization Fellowship” as you journey from one beach town to the next. If you haven’t heard of it, this organization (can I call it that?) was founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda and it’s purpose is to help people “realize and express more fully in their lives the beauty, nobility, and divinity of the human spirit” which I can confidently say is anything but shallow and probably also explains the existence of the “Swami” cafe, and the “Swami” taxi company along with the fact that there are more yoga studios than I can comfortably count on all of my extremities. And that’s just the beginning.

As I navigate my way through the streets I begin to notice I’m a bit of an anomaly in my somewhat larger than I prefer carbon emission rental vehicle, being significantly outnumbered by the plethora of “Leafs”, “Prius’ A, B, and Cs”, “Smart Cars” and various other hybrids, electrics and heretofore never seen environmentally friendly options with which I am unfamiliar, not surprisingly so since I hail from one of the largest oil producing provinces in the world. And while I don’t really have a beef with environmentalists I’m not all that thrilled about having the prime parking spots set aside for them while I do battle for the few remaining ones at the back of the lot . Not only that but it’s a veritable “Tour de France” what with all of the bikes sailing past in their designated lanes.

Returning with my oversized packages of just about everything I breathe a sigh of relief as the familiar green umbrellas come into view and I hold out hope that things are going to take a turn for the better. At the Starbucks, where by all rights I should have been sitting beside overly tanned and too blonde dudes and dudettes saying surfer stuff like “hey bro, that was an awesome ride” and “Cowabunga! Eddie would go”, I instead find myself sharing space with a group of business types making arrangements for a session on team building with a woman whose qualifications are not limited to but include, being a member of a world class mountaineering team that won a championship climbing competition somewhere in Borneo. To be honest, it’s a tad disorienting and I’m already finding myself shopping at places like “Whole Foods” and “Sprouts”. Next thing you know I’ll be walking into the holistic healing centre located right next door to my temporary digs to see what they can do about the blisters I’m getting from all the walking I have to do to get from my car to the store.

So there you have it. I’m going to do my best to stay the course but I’m beginning to think I might have to wear my shades and baseball cap in an effort to generate some Babs sightings just to be sure that I have something to write about. Because apparently the ocean isn’t the only thing that is deep around here.

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