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August 07, 2005

The Hot Tub Way of Wisdom

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I've been vacationing in California, where culture has been a matter of walks by the ocean; avoiding the news; Bikram yoga classes; being picky about sunsets, wine, and fish; and taking a daily hot tub. After two weeks of adherence to this rigorous discipline, I'm left wondering: "Tension"? What's "tension"? Which, of course, is the much of the point of spending a vacation in Calilfornia.

As I was lolling in the hot tub earlier this evening, gazing out over the ocean and mingling my thoughts with the Pacific sunset, my mind drifted off into hazy musings about what I might write for the blog. A challenge! "No tension remaining anywhere in me" equals not just "Bliss" but also "Not much to say," after all.

Then a very California blogging idea occurred to me: to dodge the coming-up-with-something-new burden by passing along links to postings that Friedrich von B and I have written over the years about the whole California thang. Not that we're experts or anything, but we each have our connections to the place. FvB has been a California resident for a couple of decades; I've been a regular visitor since the '70s, and am married to a six-foot blonde CA native.

* Friedrich von B. celebrates the California woman.

* FvB recommends a Peter Theroux book about L.A.

* FvB wonders if a California initiative to reduce school class sizes was worth the expense.

* FvB confesses that he's been known to break the California speed limit.

* FvB muses about that eccchht-California building material, stucco.

* FvB visits an exhibition of photographs by Ansel Adams.

* FvB thinks L.A. is heaven on earth for those with a taste for the sublime.

* FvB visits San Simeon and wonders about William Randolph Hearst's parents.

* FvB visits Simon Rodia's legendary Watts Towers.

* FvB notices that a couple of California inmate-artists are making paintings -- and they aren't abstract paintings.

* FvB thinks the California education establishment has a lot to answer for.

* FvB reviews some of the ways large-scale Mexican immigration is changing California. He gnaws on the subject some more here.

* FvB raves about the cloudscapes that sometimes gather above L.A.

* Michael B. wonders why the literature of the West isn't more widely-known than it is.

* MB thinks that there's a lot to be learned from Santa Barbara's carparks.

* MB semi-enjoys Kem Nunn's surf-noir novel "Tapping the Source," and then uses the book as an excuse to bitch about the excessive emphasis the lit world places on "the writin'."

* MB enjoys the paintings of California legend John Baldessari.

* MB praises the informal architecture of an out-of-the-way Santa Barbara Mexican restaurant.

* Michael B. visits California, Thinks Large Thoughts, and suspects he's a born Vedantist.

* MB falls hard for Bikram yoga.

* Michael B. fails to become a surfer.

Now, please excuse me for a bit. I've been called to the next room. It seems there's a fresh bottle of white wine that needs opening ...



posted by Michael at August 7, 2005


Not fair. You should've posted this on Sat, so we can unwind in unison with you. Now I'll only get to the stucco post in the evening: I don't want to speed-read anything by FvB to spoil the pleasure.

Posted by: Tatyana on August 8, 2005 9:50 AM

Are you a Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman type couple? Is your wife three inches taller than you?

Posted by: blue on August 8, 2005 7:56 PM

I don't see any mention of the San Joaquin Valley. After all, that's where all the food comes from! Home to Del Monte canning and the University of the Pacific (my grandparents lived in Stockton). My grandfather, a Norwegian Lutheran who could recite the Iliad in Greek, spent the Depression working in a fly-spray factory in Oakland after returning from a missionary stint in the Philippines.
Pop and Alan Cranston campaigned for Upton Sinclair as governor on the Socialist ticket in the 1930s. Cranston published the first unexpurgated translation of MEIN KAMPF to try to warn the world about Hitler. Pop paid his way through Stanford by ghostwriting term papers. He lost the lead in GOLDEN BOY to William Holden, even though he could play the violin and Holden couldn't. Hung out with Aldous Huxley while doing a stint as screenwriter (speaking of Vedanta). Auntie became the lead dietitian for the public school system of California, and one of her colleagues was the mother of Daniel Goleman (of Emotional Intelligence fame).

Posted by: winifer skattebol on August 8, 2005 10:05 PM

I dunno 'bout central California. The San Jose Mercury-News' weather page was reporting 104-ish temps for Fresno, et. al. this last weekend.

And it was into the 90s in the San Benito Valley, so The Fiancee and I hightailed it to Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pebble Beach where it was below 70. We had to dodge those oh-so-arty locals (not to mention dogs, dogs, and more dogs -- all hyper-pampered). But hey, who ever said coastal California was a soft-duty tour.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on August 8, 2005 10:38 PM

Taking an ice-tea break from reading all the above linked articles, I've contemplated something I noticed.
How the commenting public has changed over mere 2 yrs. Gone are Angie Schultz, Dwight Decker, Aaron Haspel, Nathalie Chicha. Very rarely return Deb, Will Duquette, Alan Kellogg. [I won't continue my thought as to who came in turn]

Why, do you think? My guess is - the public likes to hear more about California, the sublime, and the unfinished stucco. And may be other places as well...

Posted by: Tatyana on August 8, 2005 10:55 PM

People still having hot tubs... with today's heating prices?

Posted by: Neil on August 10, 2005 8:48 AM

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