I’ve come a long way…


I admit it. It pains me to admit it but I will. There is something intoxicating about the air in Southern California. Gosh darn, but I hate to admit it. Sitting outside today in 75 degree weather, eating lunch in Anaheim, and again tonight, having dinner on a patio overlooking a lake in Thousand Oaks, I can understand what brought us here. L.A., hell, all of Southern California is an intoxicating drug.

I have been here before. Just about every time I land in this damn state I come prepared to hate it. I loathe it, and all that it stands for. And yet, stepping out into this sun, this heavenly sun, in the middle of January, I get sucked back into it. Look around at the Oaks, the Eucalyptus, the blue sky, hidden though it may be behind a haze of gray, and I can’t help but feel it. That siren’s call. “Go West Young Man”. California is where the West ends. Anything beyond here paradoxically becomes the East.

So what does it mean for us if this is it? If this is the end of it all, if Western Civilization ends here on this Pacific Coast, in this paradise beneath a drugged haze of blue exhaust, what does it say about us? Is decadence the natural end of Western Civilization? Is this where the torch is handed back to the Far East, as if to say, tag you’re it.

Again.

This article was written in 1991. I remember it clearly. This was before Northridge. Before Rodney King. Before O.J.

Los Angeles, Capital of the Third World. Read it again. Hard to believe it was written in 1991. There isn’t a thing there that wouldn’t be relevant today. Which tells me two paradoxical things.

Nothing has changed
We are headed to hell in a hand cart

Sigh… sure is a pretty trip though.

I have found no song that better captures the sense for the immense size, diversity, and empty promise of LA than this one by Michelle Shocked. And oldie, but a goody. Enjoy.

I’ve Come a Long Way – Michelle Shocked

kicked in his door at 5 AM
“I’ve come for my bike” I told the repo man
My 920’s gonna take me far today
You can travel for miles and never leave L.A.

I’ve come a long way
I’ve come a long way
I’ve gone 500 miles today
I’ve come a long way
I’ve come along way
And never even left L.A.

I drive by the Plaza where the gay boys pose
Stand in their windows wearing no clothes
I heard the screams of the dying dark
Through the sweet green icing of MacArthur Park
And then I crossed the river into East L.A.
Pescado mojado me encontre
And I’ve given up on rock ‘n roll
And I’m saving up for norteno
The river she runs by the railroad tracks
I swear I’ll never take it back
A train, she cries on the midnight hour
All along the Watts Tower
Ohhhhhhhhhhh

I’ve come a long way
I’ve come a long way
I’ve gone 500 miles today
I’ve come a long way
I’ve come along way
And never even left L.A.

I gunned it down to San Pedro Bay
Watched my ship sail in, watched her sail away
The sun was sinking into the sea
But a ball of fire inside of me
Was burning my motor and driving me hard
Past the big hair on the Boulevard
And up Mulholland where I made the scene
Like the one that took little Jimmy Dean
And then I shimmied up Wilshire like a little silk worm
Past the rodeo and the pachyderm
And then I stopped for coffee at an art cafe
I saw the repo man and made my getaway
Doing the Eagle Rock
Heading for the hills
Oh try to let my engines cool
And it is not my fault that this town shakes
I saw the falling rock and I hit my brakes

I’ve come a long way
I’ve come a long way
I’ve gone 500 miles today
I’ve come a long way
I’ve come along way
And never even left L.A.

Now you tow it to the repo man’s front door
And you give him these keys, I don’t need them no more
You tow it to the repo man’s front door
And you give him these keys, I don’t need them no more

I’ve come a long way
I’ve come a long way
I’ve gone 500 miles today
I’ve come a long way
I’ve come along way
And never even left L.A.
I’ve come a long way
I’ve come a long way
I’ve gone 500 miles today
I’ve come a long way
I’ve come along way
And never even left L.A.
And never even left L.A.
And never even left L.A

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