Thoughts in San Diego


Back in the land of San Diego, a sprawled sunny place streamlined with polished sport cars and gleaming SUVs, a desert beach implanted with flowers and shrubberies from all around the world. The people, too, seem to shine surfacely with some transplanted synthetic reflectant.

I always gain a sense in suburbed cities such as this that the freeways and wide-stretched streets don’t really lead anywhere, that indeed the traffic itself is the most cohesive expression of the cities’ collectivity, the only place where it’s people are somewhat gathered together and united for a brief space of time before separated and off-ramped into some outlying distant gated immunity. In the traffic there is danger, there are fatalities and accidents and fender benders, well-dressed anguished people on their cell-phones standing displayed on the side of the freeway in their full humanity, looking over the destruction of their crunched and dented vehicles as everyone slows down alongside to ogle, wondering perhaps if they too could ever be un-horsed in such a manner.

Swaths of empty pavement seem to best express the landscape of such a city, capped with a vast blue desert sky, the hint of an ocean somewhere in the breeze.

There is of course something captivating in its beaches lined with drugged out remnants of failed marriages and bronzed bodies rollerblading untouchably taunting along the boardwalks. There is some kind of laid-back but primal energy expressed in the waves on the shore that is sometimes glimpsed in the spaces between the reversed baseball caps and baggy shorted uniforms of the wannabe frat boys of Pacific Beach, a kind of stoic and vacant beauty pictured in the frame behind the halter tops and the designer purses of the moneyed sun-glassed mamas of La Jolla.

Everything is spread out and nothing is contained.

Of course what overtly plagues this city plagues every American city, and San Diego alone shouldn’t be castigated or targeted alone as completely unique, although it is certainly representative. Every American city suffers from some congealed homogenized mass of middle and upper classes. Once known as yuppies, although the term, like that of hippies, seems to have lost its force and meaning in the face of cross-pop-cultural fertilization. My understanding of the term is that it referred to the nouveau rich and their love of trendy gleaming franchises. But now it seems like all Americans–except those who can’t afford them of course–love their trendy sterilized franchises. Or maybe love isn’t the correct term, more like non-critically accepted. And who can really differentiate these days between the rich and those who simply live and spend as if they were rich? Everyone of course is simply mimicking Ol Uncle Sam in being good citizens and patriots and living in the glorious happy credit land of endless horizons, where if we all just keep on spending then everything will be ok. This is all tied in with suburbanization and sprawl and SUVs and strip-malls and Starbucks and Pizza Huts and all the other symptoms of decay erupting daily across the face of America.

Because these people, these so-called “yuppies,” are representatives of the fulfilment and end-game of the “American dream.” They are “successful,” they work kind of hard and commute to work sometimes 2 hours both ways stuck in traffic and they drive their beef-hormone and McDonald’s trans-fatty filled children to their football games in these gigantic gas guzzling machines that seem to serve more as symbols of unnecessary waste and possession of space than as functional cars. And these multi-ethnic, one-dimensional Horatios are scattered throughout the suburbs of America, J Crewed, equipped with cellphones and Ipods, and largely uninformed outside of the nightly news propaganda. And they are the hordes of the blinded cradled lifestyles that will be thrown into the cold when our nation hits the wall of economic and spiritual destitution to which it is speeding forward to so recklessly. And as I sit and type this out on my laptop in a Starbucks in La Jolla, yes, I am fully aware that I am included in this prognostication.

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Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

One thought on “Thoughts in San Diego”

  1. Melville on Concrete:

    “For heaven’s sake, come out from among those Hittites & Hodites – give up mortar forever. -There is one thing certain, that, chemically speaking, mortar was the precipitate of the Fall; & with a brickbat, or a cobble-stone boulder, Cain killed Abel. -Do you drink Lime-water in the morning by way of a stomachic? Do you use brick-bats for paper-weights in the office? Do you and Mathews pitch paving-stones, & play ball that way in the cool of the evening, opposite that Astor-house? -How do they sell mortar, by the quart now? Cheaper than ice-cream, I suppose. -A horrible something in me tells me that you are about dipping your head in plaster at Fowler’s for your bust. -But enough -the visions come too thick for me to master them.”
    -letter to George Duyckinck, August 1850

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