I was born three years after this photo was taken, but the California of my youth was not a lot different from this. Everybody likes to ridicule this era as being too White or too conservative or too racist or too homophobic or too this or that, but it sure was a nice place to grow up.
I hung with this rockabilly crowd 35 years ago. They were ok, but their motto seemed to be, “Yeah! Let’s all go back in the 1950’s!” I laughed about it then and I laughed about it now. It was better in some ways but worse in a lot of others, and anyway, you can never go home again.
Nevertheless, we now have an overcrowded, poverty-infested, drought-striken, politically bizarre, UN Freakshow with Banana Republic demographics and collapsing ecosystems.
The rich on the hills above with their military base-like guarded perimeters. Spreading out down below are the festering slums, often as far as the eye can see.
In the morning, you see the dark-skinned California poor marching up the hills to work as low-skilled laborers in the white-skinned California lands of the rich. At the end of the, the dark poor march back down the hill in the growing darkness to their homes in the slums.
It could be San Salvador. It could be Lima. It could be take your pick. It’s Latin America Reprised. Extreme wealth next to serious poverty and a shrinking middle class in between. Yep, California, the grooviest, hippest most leftwing progressive state in the Union, has decided to copy banana republics as its development model.
What does this mean? How about this? California at least has finally de facto separated from North America to become a part of the Americas, just another Latin American country. Got to wonder when the caudillos, the death squads and the guerilla priests are going to show up. It can only be a matter of time.
Sure from our perspective, the 50’s blew, at least to the extent that we don’t want to go back there.
But there’s a strong popular suggestion today that the California of 2015, this surreal Banana Republic Circus, is better than those uptight Wonder Bread Eisenhower years we all love to ridicule. Of course it’s different. As different as two different planets. But better? Really?
I don’t know man, I just don’t know.
One thing’s for sure. See that White California 1954 in that photo? It’s gone. And it ain’t never coming back.
RIP White California.