June 11, 2009

"Benjamin Schwarz's laments the end of California's modest dream"

In the new July-August Atlantic, Benjamin Schwarz reviews the latest volume of Kevin Starr's history of California: Golden Dreams: California in the Age of Abundance: 1950-1963. It makes me nostalgic for what once was. Schwarz is a half-decade younger than me and, I would guess from this, had a similar San Fernando Valley upbringing:
It was a magnificent run. From the end of the Second World War to the mid-1960s, California consolidated its position as an economic and technological colossus and emerged as the country's dominant political, social, and cultural trendsetter. ... In 1959, wages paid in Los Angeles's working-class and solidly middle-class San Fernando Valley alone were higher than the total wages of 18 states.

It was a sweet, vivacious time: California's children, swarming on all those new playgrounds, seemed healthier, happier, taller, and -- thanks to that brilliantly clean sunshine -- were blonder and more tan than kids in the rest of the country. For better and mostly for worse, it's a time irretrievably lost. ...

Starr consistently returns to his leitmotif: the California dream. By this he means something quite specific -- and prosaic. California, as he's argued in earlier volumes, promised "the highest possible life for the middle classes." It wasn't a paradise for world-beaters; rather, it offered "a better place for ordinary people." That place always meant "an improved and more affordable domestic life": a small but stylish and airy house marked by a fluidity of indoor and outdoor space ... and a lush backyard -- the stage, that is, for "family life in a sunny climate." It also meant some public goods: decent roads, plentiful facilities for outdoor recreation, and the libraries and schools that helped produce the Los Angeles "common man" who, as that jaundiced easterner James M. Cain described him in 1933," addresses you in easy grammar, completes his sentences, shows familiarity with good manners, and in addition gives you a pleasant smile."

Until the Second World War, California had proffered this Good Life only to people already in the middle class -- the small proprietors, farmers, and professionals, largely transplanted midwesterners ... But the war and the decades-long boom that followed extended the California dream to a previously unimaginable number of Americans of modest means. Here Starr records how that dream possessed the national imagination ... and how the Golden State -- fleetingly, as it turns out -- accomodated Americans' "conviction that California was the best place in the nation to seek and attain a better life." ...

This dolce vita was, as Starr makes clear, a democratic one: the ranch houses with their sliding glass doors and orange trees in the backyard might have been more sprawling in La Canada and Orinda than they were in the working-class suburbs of Lakewood and Hayward, but family and social life in nearly all of them centered on the patio, the barbecue, and the swimming pool. The beaches were publicly owned and hence available to all -- as were such glorious parks as Yosemite, Chico's Bidwell, the East Bay's Tilden, and San Diego's Balboa. Golf and tennis, year-round California pursuits, had once been limited to the upper class, but thanks to proliferating publicly supported courses and courts (thousands of public tennis courts had already been built in L.A. in the 1930s), they became fully middle-class. This shared outdoor-oriented, informal California way of life democratized -- some would say homogenized -- a society made up of people of varying attainments and income levels. These people were overwhelmingly white and native-born, and their common culture revolved around nurturing and (publicly educating) their children. Until the 1980s, a California preppy was all but oxymoronic. True, the comprehensive high schools had commercial, vocational, and college-prep tracks (good grades in the last guaranteed admission to Berkeley or UCLA -- times have definitely changed). But, as Starr concludes from his survey of yearbooks and other school records, "there remained a common experience, especially in athletics, and a mutual respect among young people heading in different directions."

To a Californian today, much of what Starr chronicles is unrecognizable. (Astonishing fact: Ricky Nelson and the character he played in that quintessential idealization of suburbia, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, attended Hollywood High, a school that is now 75% Hispanic and that The New York Times accurately described in 2003 as a "typically overcrowded, vandalism-prone urban campuse.") Granted, a version of the California Good Life can still be had -- by those Starr calls the "fiercely competitive." That's just the heartbreak: most of us are merely ordinary. For nearly a century, California offered ordinary people better lives than they could lead perhaps anywhere else in the world. Today, reflecting our intensely stratified, increasingly mobile society, California affords the Good Life only to the most gifted and ambitious, regardless of their background. That's a deeply undemocratic betrayal of California's dream ...

Basically, that was my quite lovely childhood in the San Fernando Valley 1958-1980: ping-pong on the screened-in porch, swimming, backyard barbecues at my relatives' houses, Yosemite, long hours at the library two blocks away, tennis at the park three blocks away, golf on municipal courses, and UCLA (for my MBA). The only minor differences from the picture Starr and Schwarz paint are that I went to Catholic grade school and high school, and away to Rice for college.

If you want to understand where I'm coming from politically, this is a good start.

That reminds me: Bill James once wrote a book about the politics of getting elected to baseball's Hall of Fame. He wound up focusing on two statistically marginal members of the HoF: shortstop Phil Rizzuto of the New York Yankees and pitcher Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers. James concluded that Rizzuto is in the Hall of Fame because New York in the late 1940s and early 1950s was seen as a magical place, the newly undisputed capital of the world.

I think the same argument could be made about Drysdale. LA in the early 1960s was something special, and the huge fame of Drysdale, a 6'6" blond surfer born in the San Fernando Valley in 1936, was because he was the exemplar of this national notion that life in Los Angeles was better. (One of Drysdale's teammates at Van Nuy High School in the 1950s was Robert Redford.)

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

70 comments:

minister said...

It's funny how Schwarz suggests that this decay and devolution is due to all those buzzwords you always hear about, you know, "intensely stratified", "increasingly mobile society", becoming "undemocratic".

I suspect Schwarz might have a better idea why all this happened and is happening, but is being deliberately disingenous. You can't really blame him, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

"California affords the Good Life only to the most gifted and ambitious, regardless of their background. That's a deeply undemocratic betrayal of California's dream ..."

It is precisely democracy that destroyed the golden age of California - to wit, the political establishment's program of importing Third World helots who could be bribed to vote for Democrats.

Reactionary said...

I suspect Schwarz might have a better idea why all this happened and is happening, but is being deliberately disingenous. You can't really blame him,...

No you can't, because who wants to end up relying on donations thru a non-profit by posting on blogger.com and driving a ten-year old Honda Accord?

"intensely stratisfied" = multi-ethnic

"increasingly mobile" = corporate labor arbitrage

"undemocratic" = Third World hellhole

Brent Lane said...

I grew up in the Deep South during roughly the same period Schwarz/Sailer came of age in Cali. I must admit I felt quite envious of the lives I imagined kids my age living in the Golden State. Both Schwarz and Sailer describe it pretty much as I thought it was like.

I spent a good bit of my childhood trapped in crumbling, decrepit schools, surrounded by dim-witted, barely-literate thugs (white and non-white) and only slightly better-educated teachers (again, white and non-white). On more than one occasion a school in which I was a student was forced to close due to racial unrest. I dreamed of the day when the old Confederacy would resemble the California of my dreams.

Looks like it finally happened. Just not quite the way I expected.

Thrasymachus said...

It was the greatest place in the world, and it turns out everybody in the world wanted to come there, and did. The blue collar areas have been taken over by Mexicans and the middle and upper class areas have been taken over by Asians of one kind or another. The colleges seem to have virtually no white students. The kind of life a construction worker once had can now barely be afforded by a physician.

It's still very beautiful though. I recently spent a few days in Cerritos, Cypress and east Long Beach. I was surprised to see how lovely, clean, and well-kept it is- better than I remembered it. I now live in Seattle. It's supposed to be a yuppie paradise but in all but the most expensive areas it's filled with dilapidated, ugly buildings and there is a lot of grafitti. There is serious street crime everywhere. I think California still has a strong civic ethic and a strong criminal justice system that keeps it quite livable- at least in the southern part anyway. I thnk it took San Francisco a good number of years of hard left government to get as messed up as it has.

Danindc said...

I know those California kids he's talking about- played against a few... great athletes, laid back, secretely tough as well. Man that sounded like a fun place to grow up. You have to admit though- the neighborhoods are now much more....what's the word, begins with a V....

Anonymous said...

"California offered ordinary people better lives than they could lead perhaps anywhere else in the world"

Puhlease. Typical attitude of a navel gazing California native.

I was born in 1964 and grew up in upstate NY. My parents ranch-style home was built in 1958 and unlike a lot of California homes of the same era, it had an *attached* garage. Plus, the people who lived in them actually *updated* them every decade or so - Unlike what my husband and I ran into when house hunting in Torrance & Westchester - 40 year old original tile counters in the kitchen - just wonderful!

My high school was and still is excellent (rated "silver" by US News and World Report). My classmates went to MIT, Harvard, Cornell, West Point, and had their choice of numerous excellent east coast colleges. If they didn't go to private college, they went to very good SUNY system. We had parks and tennis courts and my jr high and high school had indoor pools. We didn't have the beach but we had the Adirondacks. We didn't surf, we skied. My dad was an engineer who worked for General Electric (went to college on the GI Bill) and was able to send three kids to private college on his salary. Our blue collar neighbor who worked for the gas company sent his 3 kids to college on one salary, too.

We also grew up with a sense of history and an appreciation for culture and the arts which I've noticed seems to be missing from a lot of Californians.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

When my wife once asked me what I'd choose if I could have lived in any other time and place, I immediately said southern California in the postwar era.

And I've never even been to the state.

It's clearly a part of our national mythology - the apogee of comfortable American middle class life.

Anonymous said...

Looks like my parents are a few years older than Steve, but they had a similar experience growing up in LA in the 50s and 60s. (They even met while attending UCLA.) By the time I reached school age in the 80s (the crack wars era), my father had to send my siblings and me to parochial school to get basically the same education he got in public school in the San Fernando Valley in the early 60s, with only a moderate number of thugs. The house my dad bought in a nice suburb in 1975 was in a dodgy neighborhood by the time we moved out in the early 90s, and it's in the barrio now. When I got out of school, I got a job, married a nice girl from America proper, and bought a house a long way from the ghetto (and multiple time zones away from California). Sort of affordable family formation in action, really.

As it turns out, I live about 50 miles from the town where one of my grandfathers was born and raised. (He moved to LA after he got out of the Army after WWII.) It's hard to get worked up about not being able to live the good life where your father did, when you can live a good life where your grandfather could have if he were a less adventurous sort. But it's a crying shame, and the rest of the country seems hellbent on making a lot of the same mistakes. I very much get where Steve is coming from, politically.

Reactionary said...

Brent Lane,

My parents' first house was in Chamblee, Georgia, circa 1967.

Summer break, we'd leave the house arond 9 a.m. and wouldn't be back until the sun set around 9 p.m. We'd ride our bikes on dirt trails and jumps that we'd carved out ourselves on vacant lots, play pick-up baseball or football, go catch tadpoles in one of the tributaries for Nancy Creek, buy candy at the Park & Shop or sundaes at the DQ, watch the trains rumble up and down that particular stretch of Peachtree Industrial Blvd, and act out elaborate kid dramas in the local cemetery. Wild blackberries were everywhere, and we'd always pick enough to eat our fill, and my mom to bake several cobblers. For some bizarre reason, there were lots of plum trees just growing by the side of the road, and my mom would can several jars of plum jelly.

I remember white garbage men, barbers in barber tunics, men openly chewing tobacco, and immigrants were British aerospace engineers from the Brain Drain, French academics, and "Mexicans" consisting of one clearly Spanish-descended family whose dad was in management for a local company. Back in the day, this was the 'burbs. Anything further out was the hopeless and irredeemable sticks.

I also remember the white trash families and the "wrong side of the tracks."

But never, ever was there the feeling that any number of horrible things could happen.

Anonymous said...

There also used to be a sense of laid back privlidge in California that is almost all but gone for the middle class. I am 49 and it is if our parents and grandparents built a state that was ours to enjoy. But rather than being enjoyed by us and our children it was consumed by immigrants and their children.

Getting into college was relativly easy. That meant that younger people could take time off to travel or persue other activities rather than just study and get grades. My brother went to SD State just so he could surf. I had other friends that went and lived in vail for a year then come back and study.

The environment was still something that could be saved. Now a days nobody thinks that anything can be done which is why there is so much hub bub regarding global warming. It is something abstract unlike the illegal alien in front of you with a smoking tail pipe and shitty music blaring.

The traffic was still bareable. Now it is usually bad except for a limited of hours in the middle of the day or night.

Anonymous said...

"I was born in 1964 and grew up in upstate NY. My parents ranch-style home was built in 1958 and unlike a lot of California homes of the same era, it had an *attached* garage. Plus, the people who lived in them actually *updated* them every decade or so - Unlike what my husband and I ran into when house hunting in Torrance & Westchester - 40 year old original tile counters in the kitchen - just wonderful!

My high school was and still is excellent (rated "silver" by US News and World Report). My classmates went to MIT, Harvard, Cornell, West Point, and had their choice of numerous excellent east coast colleges. If they didn't go to private college, they went to very good SUNY system. We had parks and tennis courts and my jr high and high school had indoor pools. We didn't have the beach but we had the Adirondacks. We didn't surf, we skied. My dad was an engineer who worked for General Electric (went to college on the GI Bill) and was able to send three kids to private college on his salary. Our blue collar neighbor who worked for the gas company sent his 3 kids to college on one salary, too."

You're missing the point, buddy. The CA standard of living for WORKING and LOWER MIDDLE CLASS people, not engineers, was much high than most of the country. Maybe it wasn't that much higher than NY, MA or a few other affluent East Coast states, but it was vastly superior to the standard or living in the Midwest and states like AK, OK, LA and TX where most of the migrants to CA came from. And the weather in upstate NY is horrible.

Bob said...

"the political establishment's program of importing Third World helots who could be bribed to vote for Democrats."

That's really rich. Immigrants can't vote, and even their citizen children, two decades later, rarely do so. Even if they did, no politician thinks that far ahead.

You can thank big business interests, especially the hyper-Republican agribusiness and construction industries, for mass third world immigration.

Now which President was it that did the big amnesty in 1986? Who wanted to do a second big one a few years ago? Was it Carter? Clinton? I can't seem to remember.

And last year Tancredo totally crushed McCain in the GOP primaries.

patrick said...

Roger McGrath had an excellent article about his SoCal childhood, which revolved around surfing, in The AmConMag. It sounded idyllic.

I am a big college football fan (Notre Dame) and when they played USC it was fun to listen to Keith Jackson say the names of the towns of the Trojan players ..Rancho Cucamonga, San Leandro, Mission Viejo, Van Nuys. Very few out of staters on the roster.

Or watching the Rose Bowl every year, which usually included USC or UCLA. The beauty of the cheerleaders, the Rose Parade, the palm trees and mountains from the camera shots of the blimp ... and hard-ass football players.

One would think that an easy environment like California would not produce such hard-nosed talent, but it did (and does) and would be no match for Big 10 players from tough rust belt towns like Flint and Youngstown.

Chris said...

I think we're sort of kindred spirits, Steve, although I'm a decade younger than you. Born and grew up in LA just in time to see that wonderful world slip away.

The stories my dad, who grew up in Hollywood, tells me are unreal. He used to walk down Hollywood Blvd. and take two RTD lines to get to middle school every day. His mom, my grandma, was very religious and very conservative. They lived a half-block up from Hollywood Blvd., near Laurel Canyon. It's hard for me to imagine her living in California at all now, let alone in a neighborhood like that one's become. Yet they were an entirely normal family there, and Hollywood was still Hollywood.

Not Brian Levin said...

You miserable people sound like you are threatened by diversity!

Here a place you can go for healing:

Commentary: Hate groups threatened by diversity

Yessiree! Writer Brian Levin from CNN makes that the case that only pathetic weaklings and twisted evil maniacs are "threatened by diversity"!

Of course all those buyers obsessed with "good schools" while navigating the real estate market in America in the past decade were not "threatened by diversity"!

Of course all those commuters on the nation's highway system who feel the need to own a home far away from the crime ridden urban areas are not "threatened by diversity"!

America's residential neighborhoods are as segregated today as they were in the 1950s (that's a documented fact) but American homeowners are not "threatened by diversity"!

All of those responding to the Harvard research in 2007 demonstrating that Los Angelenos are now living in a low trust society because of hyper-diversity are definitely not "threatened by diversity"!

ONLY SICK EVIL CRAZY ASS NAZIS ARE THREATENED BY DIVERSITY!

Author Steve Sailer wrote about this topic a couple of years ago but Brian Levin from CNN is not an iSteve reader apparently!

Fragmented Future

"Multiculturalism doesn’t make vibrant communities but defensive ones."

Please go to the CNN comments section and tell Brian Levin that he needs to read Sailer a little more often.

robert61 said...

The Southern California of the 50s and early 60s seems to represent the same thing for Steve as the ancien regime did for an older breed of European conservative (and for a tiny cohort of American right libertarians and paleos today).

agnostic said...

California's public schools also look great -- the buildings, anyway. Most were built during the sweet spot between roughly 1900 / 1910 and 1945 / 1950.

wake up said...

peter brimelow at vdare.com is talking about other brian levin articles....

http://www.vdare.com

SF said...

It make me kind of sad that the library was open about 69 hours per week when I was growing up in Orange County. Now the library where I live is open 25 hours a week, and will probably have to cut further.

Chris said...

Brian Levin was formerly Associate Director of Legal Affairs for the SPLC's Klanwatch/Militia Task Force.

Black Sea said...

When my wife and I were pondering a move a couple of years ago, I told her to cross off the list any job openings in California. Despite the endless summer nostalgia and so forth (I was a kid in the '70s, so I am hardly immune), California was one of the few states that I excluded from consideration.

. . . too much time spent reading Sailer and Mangan, I guess.

Reg Cæsar said...

...the huge fame of Drysdale, a 6'6" blond surfer born in the San Fernando Valley in 1936, was because he was the exemplar of this national notion that life in Los Angeles was better.

Perhaps, but what probably tipped him over the HoF finish line was that he was one of the few pitchers who could swing a bat, like Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver. (Of course, it doesn't hurt to be followed in the rotation by an epic-whiffer lefty like Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton or Jerry Koosman.)

Bill said...

I took a trip to southern California when I was a little boy back in 1980 (I can hardly believe my son is almost that age now). One thing I remember was seeing perfectly green lawns with the sprinklers going all day in sun. I thought the grass and the orchards were beautiful, but I wondered where all that water was coming from.

That southern Californian lifestyle was always a dream -- all my relatives who lived in CA were in San Francisco or high in the Sierras in what was left of the mining towns, and I was in Seattle. The LA lifestyle just passed us by, but in a way we were lucky, because we never lost it. By the 90s a flood of southern Californian refugees started showing up here in the Northwest with horror stories.

Amazing how things changed so much down there in only ten years.

Reg Cæsar said...

And the weather in upstate NY is horrible. --anonymous

Not if your ancestors evolved in Northern Europe and, before that, the Eurasian steppes or taiga.

If you could make the most of the winter, postwar life in the border states (the Canadian border, that is) was about as idyllic for the working and lower-middle classes as it was in California. We had safe streets and decent libraries as well; just replace the tennis courts with ice rinks.

Weather is overrated.

dearieme said...

The western Golden Age of recent memory was the pre-WWI England of the Upper and Upper-Middle classes. The post-WWII Golden Age was, Steve persuades me, California to (what?) the mid-60s, and for a far wider swathe of society. I don't think there was a Golden Age between the wars. Has there been one since Steve's childhood ended?

H. said...

These fond reminiscences lead me to share my own. I was born in Marin County in 1963. I have vague memories of riding my tricycle in a pristine, all-white neighborhood. I grew up mainly in the Inland Empire, where I could still attend a decent public school--my parents took care to buy a house in its district. My mother grew up in LA during the 40s and 50s, and she really deplores what became of her home town. Eventually, nearly all of my family moved up to Coeur d'Alene, where escaped southern Californians go.

Robert said...

"Puhlease. Typical attitude of a navel gazing California native."

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and second what Anonymous said. Also H.L. Mencken observed that urban neighborhoods only last 50 years before going to crap. He was talking about Baltimore but it can be applied anywhere. Southern California was built up a lot in the 40's, 50's and 60's and those areas are now going downhill. The place I grew up was built mainly in the 40's and 50's and right on cue it went downhill in the 90's and in this decade.

BenjaminL said...

Re: Immigrants, corporate interests, etc....


That's all true, but as readers of this blog well know, CA's supply of buildable land with great coastal weather is finite, and sooner or later, there would have been a real estate issue with or without immigration.

Either "green" building restrictions and higher prices, or high-density development.

Professor Robert Orwell Sutwell said...

I remember coming out of the UCLA bookstore one day in 2001, and it struck me how much more mentally healthy the Chinese/Japanese students seemed than the whites. They reminded me of the Euro kids from the era you're talking about, with the Surf Nazis and the Frankie and Annette movies, the bonfires on the beach and tongue in cheek humor.

That summer I went to a party in Playa del Rey where there was a bonfire on the beach...just like the old days! Except that about an hour after I left a kid visiting from Ohio got shot by Mexicans.

No matter how much you idealize the time though, clearly something was lacking in these Californians - and indeed, blandly termed "whites" in general. Why else do they just hand it all over?

Anonymous said...

Tution was free at california colleges, yes colleges. A working man could afford a house, there was a demand for labor, the cliche of the blond haired california beauty was real...

Can it ever go back? at this point its close to physically impossible in areas like the SFV unless they have a really really big earthquake.

Robert said...

"You're missing the point, buddy. The CA standard of living for WORKING and LOWER MIDDLE CLASS people, not engineers, was much high than most of the country. "

My dad worked in a steel mill and we did not live in California but the Chicago suburbs. I do think that my life was not much different than was described. We may not have had access to surfing but we had a great time with forest preserves, faclities for basketball, baseball and yes, tennis courts! I think that it was just a wonderful time all across the country and Californians seem to be taking all of the credit for it!

Dutch Boy said...

The American ruling classes have always been dedicated to the proposition that working people ought to be paid as little as possible. Their ambitions were frustrated in the post-war era when even an ordinary Joe could afford to raise a family on a single income but they have had their revenge (and not just in California!).

ironrailsironweights said...

If they didn't go to private college, they went to very good SUNY system.

While some of the SUNY colleges are very good, the problem is they are little known outside the Northeast. That can put graduates at a big disadvantage when looking for jobs elsewhere in the country.

When I was growing up in Connecticut, there was a similar problem with respect to the University of Connecticut. Academically it was a quality university, but its very low national profile discouraged many young people from enrolling if they had any plans to move elsewhere. UConn is now much better known nationwide thanks to basketball, but the SUNY colleges don't have that opportunity.

Peter

ben tillman said...

It is precisely democracy that destroyed the golden age of California - to wit, the political establishment's program of importing Third World helots who could be bribed to vote for Democrats.

But what you describe has nothing to do with democracy.

Anonymous said...

--And the weather in upstate NY is horrible.--


A little cold won't kill you...And the most quiet place I have ever been was in the middle of Adirondacks in the middle of winter. And Bigfoots (Bigfeets?) are there too. That's no lie.

ironrailsironweights said...

My parents' first house was in Chamblee, Georgia, circa 1967.

Chambodia?

Peter

ben tillman said...

Perhaps, but what probably tipped him over the HoF finish line was that he was one of the few pitchers who could swing a bat, like Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver. (Of course, it doesn't hurt to be followed in the rotation by an epic-whiffer lefty like Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton or Jerry Koosman.)

Should have quit while you were ahead -- Carlton was a damn good hitter for a pitcher with a .201 lifetime average and 13 career home runs, compared to .206 and 24 for Gibson and .186 and 29 for Drysdale. Seaver hit just .154 with 12 HRs.

I remember seeing Carlton pitch at Dodger Stadium during that magical 1972 season. Carlton threw a 1-hitter and drove in the game's only two runs with a triple.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of what Schwarz actually misses is not anything really having to do with California, but with the period 1945-1963. In many ways, those years represent the apogee of American confidence, prosperity, power, and oddly enough, true egalitarianism (as opposed to the SWPL snobs who now dominate American society). And it's no coincidence that this period (often simply referred to as "The Fifties") is hated by Boomer leftists as is no other period in history; just watch - it won't be five minutes before some lefty chimes in here with something about "Ozzie and Harriet" or Jim Crow or McCarthyism - they just can't help themselves. I'm sure that those years were golden in California - but they were pretty good elsewhere, as well.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that he uses the mid-1960's as the cutting off point for California's golden period. The "mid-1960's" - 1965 - was when Johnson brought in the new immigration law and threw open the doors to non-White third world immigration all over the globe. It is this rapid demographic transformation (and the sheer number of people it brought) that has forever ruined California and made it just a big third world slum!

regularjoe said...

I know the normal Isteve answer to this problem is Hispanic immigration...but...if a given place really did offer a better life for the ordinary than anywhere else, even in the USA,and it becomes iconic and well known for this... isn't it inevitable that it, you know, gets discovered. If all an ordinary guy need do is move, and Americans always have, and if the California dream isn geographically localized, not extending into the arid interior as Steve oft documents...wouldn't internal honky and black American migration be sufficient to up the price of that scarce real estate and end that easy affordable dream?

Victim of its Own Success is a cliche for a reason. Come on, conservatives are supposed to undertand game theory...explain how that regular guy living above his national and international level status is supposed to remain static in a world of people acting on their interests?

william 1066 said...

Bob said: You can thank big business interests, especially the hyper-Republican agribusiness and construction industries, for mass third world immigration.

Amen brother. Folks think that the GOP is the nativist anti-immigration party and maybe that applies to the long-suffering rank and file - but those who get to make the important, behind-the-scenes policies tend to be well-heeled WSJ OPED page readers and thus cheap-labor seekers.

This is why Obama may talk the amnesty game, but he'll never push it very hard - in contrast to a moneyed elite like Bush or McCain. There's no quick buck involved for the Dems - future voting blocks yes, but no payoff in the here-and-now. Sotomeyer is probably his consolation peace offering to groups like La Raza.

Anonymous said...

We also grew up with a sense of history and an appreciation for culture and the arts
this is actually wrong - california had a deep sense of history - as steve has waxed poetic before -the anglo elite romantcized 'old california' (you can see this in movies like tyrone power's zorro and in say the architecture of santa barbara (the courthouse in particular)

Anonymous said...

Brian Levin in other words is a hater. Do you think he would assault you verbally if you disagreed with him on immigration?

Danindc said...

Yeah yeah Drysdale and Koufax were great but my Orioles still whipped their asses in 1966!!!

BTW- anyone seen Jim Palmer lately? He's 65 years old and looks like he's 45 tops. I also think he was one of those SoCal studs Steve remembers.

Concerned said...

"You can thank big business interests, especially the hyper-Republican agribusiness and construction industries, for mass third world immigration."

Bob, you are talking sense. No one here will listen to that kind of talk! No, illegal immigration is all the fault of Jewish liberals, who want to destroy gentile America.

(That's extreme sarcasm, which is said not to work on the internet.)

Reactionary said...

Chambodia?

Yep. You should see Doraville now.

Chamblee is gentrifying, however.

John Craig said...

Every time I go out there, basically once a year, the exact same thought hits me: the California of the Beach Boys is dead. When I was a kid, in the 60's, California seemed like the Promised Land; it was where all the cool stuff happened. Californians produced great music (The Beach Boys, The Doors, The Mamas and Papas, etc.). That's where the movies got made (okay, they still do that, even if the movies are much more pc now). That's where the Summer of Love took place (I know, it looked better from a distance). That was where Ken Kesey produced his best work (which has certainly stood the test of time). That was where Chuck Yeager achieved greatness, or at least finally achieved his deserved fame. That's where the Navy Seals are based. The state seemed to produce a disproportionate share of great athletes (especially in my sport of swimming). And a lot of these things seemed to be accomplished by a particularly sturdy, fearless type whom I thought of at the time as being second or third generation Okies. (Now I see it from a more starkly racial/ethnic point of view.) Anyway, the suburban neighborhoods that Steve describes produced a lot of these people, the surfer dudes and California girls of yesteryear. And the ones who turned out to be great, like Brian Wilson and Ken Kesey (I know, he was from Oregon, but he was a Californian in spirit) somehow lacked the pretense of successful types back East. And, whatever you think of the hippie movement, it did take a certain fearlessness to embrace it as wholeheartedly as a lot of Californians seemed to. It was all particularly appealing to me, since I grew up in cold, gray, pretentious Boston. California was Brian Wilson, the crazy and unpretentious composer of hauntingly beautiful tunes. The East Coast was Leonard Bernstein, the pretentious composer of forgettable music. Anyway, it's sad, but Steve's right. That California is dead.

Sean Burgess said...

Poignant indeed. As we've learned to say in Vancouver: “CALL IT PARADISE – KISS IT GOODBYE!” Our own third world makeover Los Angelesization continues apace, so, notwithstanding the assorted city livability indices published, you can forget about moving here.

wake up said...

modern white elitist philosophy denies whites a self-interested role in the ongoing racial/ethnic struggle for control of america.....the predictable result is white dispossession.....

hard white men built golden age california and created the golden age of america...... the essential hypocrisy of sailer and so many other white intellectuals is their hatred for the hard men of yesterday placed right alongside their love of the world the hard men created and sustained.....

the modern soft white man wants the hard white man's world back but mother nature says **** you... you need to fight for it you pussy. like a supreme alpha bitch out of a roissy article mother nature herself repeatedly demonstrates that she despises weak men and will punish them severely.....

Fred said...

RegularJoe nails it. If an area offers a high quality of life for working class/lower-middle class people, it will attract more of such people from within the country, even without immigration (of course, it doesn't help that CA borders Mexico). When enough of those people move there, the place won't be as nice. That's especially true with a state like California, where places where you can live and enjoy the nicest weather are confined to fairly small areas (due to geography and due to land set aside for parks, etc.). The guys who grew up in places like Fresno and Palmdale probably aren't as nostalgic about their childhoods.

Anonymous said...

The 1950s and 1960s were periods of massive economic expansion throughout the Western world -- lots of new jobs, lots of social mobility, lots of students, lots of young people, lots of opportunity, lots of optimism, etc. It was a special time, but it's difficult to say whether it could ever have lasted, especially due to the decadence that the new easy life bred into so many people (so well described by Tom Wolfe in the Bonfire of the Vanities). I don't disagree with Sailer's dismay over Mexifornification, but there's something too nostalgic, too perfect about this picture of the past. Sailer focuses too much on the racial issue and ignores the unique social circumstances that produced postwar California and made it the apogee of the American dream. Life has become more competitive, more globalized, more ethnic, more fast-paced almost everywhere in the West -- regardless of who was in power or what the national history. There's a much picture issue here that Sailer does not address.

Professor Robert Orwell Sutwell said...

"hard white men built golden age california and created the golden age of america"

again, doesn't matter what they did. clearly they didn't inculcate an awareness of realpolitik in their offspring, or they didn't having offspring, or they were prone to believing media hype or hype of some sort, or they were so bloodthirsty that they'd kill their kin across the seas...

those hard white men have reaped what they've sown. or rather, their flabby offspring have. and judging by the extant culture, not just on the left but at steve's site, they've not learned anything much.

Reg Cæsar said...

Californians produced great music (The Beach Boys, The Doors, The Mamas and Papas, etc.)...
California was Brian Wilson, the crazy and unpretentious composer of hauntingly beautiful tunes. The East Coast was Leonard Bernstein, the pretentious composer of forgettable music.
--John Craig

Mr Craig's got one thing right-- Bostonians know nothing about, and have contributed almost nothing to, music of the rock era. (Unless you count Billy Squier. The other major Boston-based acts were all from NY or Ohio originally.) What I can't understand is why one would be ashamed of this-- I'd take it as a point of pride.

The M&Ps were not Californians, except for Michelle, who grew up in Mexico. The rest were from Baltimore, suburban DC, and Halifax, Nova freakin' Scotia-- closer to London than to LA! (By 78 mi.)

Jim Morrison was the height of pretension, as were the Byrds, and Wilson had a few airs himself after all the post-Vibrations 'genius' talk. Compare them to Greenwich Village's John Sebastian...

Or compare the 'Summer of Love' (SF is in CA, too!) to Philly's doo-wop era, or the Dead (and its smug fans) to the more down-to-earth NRBQ.

So much for pretension. For forgettability, how does Wilson's suiplaigiarist Little St Nick rank with Cambridge native Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride?

California's great music was written in Hollywood, before 1950, and mostly by Easterners, e.g., Boston's Jimmy McHugh and NJ's Harold Adamson: "Like an old native-born Californian would say, 'It's a most unusual day!'"

But for the rock era, CA competes with London and the US South for the title of 'most overrated source'.

El El Fool Jay said...

iSteve becomes truly unsufferable once the wannabe music critics start with their sociological writeups.

Send it to Rolling Stone, you ponce.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a famous anecdote:
George Best was porobably the greatest footballer (soccer-player to Americans), that great Britain ever produced.A Northern-Irish protestant, Best was blessed with a natural gift and flair for soccer coupled with dark good looks that had him nicknamed 'the fifth Beatle', during his heyday in the late '60s playing for the invincible Manchester United , his moment of glory was the 1968 European Cup victory against Barcelona.
But like may Irishmem, the naturally talented and gifted Best had a fatal flaw - a prediliction for alcohol that eventually destroyed his illustrious career before it reached his prime.He baecame a tabloid by-word for lost potential and wasted talent.
George Best famously (in a later incarnation he became a noted after dinner speaker telling anecdotes about his glory days to wannabee businessmen, for a fat fee)related a story of what came to pass in 1974 - at the height of the tabloid 'George Best soap opera'.
Best was staying in the Hilton Hotel in London in the most expensive suite.The previous night he had won big-time at the casino and a bank-roll of winnings lay on the bed-side table.Georgie-boy was naked, in bed with one Mary Stavin (Miss World 1974, a blonde Swede, who with justicce, was described as the most beautiful woman in the World).
Best had rung-up room service asking for a magnum of champagne om ice to brought up to his suite.On knocking and entering, the bell-boy delighted to see his hero, and with a head-full of tabloid moralising uttered the immortal words:

"Mr. Best, Where did it all go wrong?".

Christopher said...

Hey "wake up," what? We ain't philosophizing here!?!

David said...

"No, illegal immigration is all the fault of Jewish liberals, who want to destroy gentile America."

Of course this is not true. Just ask Brian Levin.

Anonymous said...

Please go to the CNN comments section and tell Brian Levin that he needs to read Sailer a little more often.

6/11/2009
^^^^^^^^^^

Whatever.

Where does Brian Levin live?? Compton? East LA?

Casa Yo Mama said...

A lot of the disappointment from whites seems based more on the decline of easygoing white privilege rather than the supposed loss of idyllic childhoods. Squeezed at the top end by hard-nosed Asian competition, and at the bottom by Mexican growth, the easy days are gone for white people, save for the high income segments.

It is easy to find a convenient scapegoat among "minorities" but the fact is that it is whites that "ruined" California- from discriminatory laws, to high taxes, to heavy-handed government regulation, excessive government spending, to "gay" marriage that threatens a primary foundation of our culture. The primary source and driver of all of the above is white people. So stop crying about "lost" California. Who made it "lost"?

James Kabala said...

Reg and Fool Jay: Actually, the weirder part is despising rock and roll while having encyclopedic knowledge of it! (Or did Reg use Wikipedia for his information on birthplaces?)

I assume Reg is referring to Aerosmith and the Cars, respectively, but the former is better described as a New York-Massachusetts hybrid. (Joe Perry grew up in a town that had once - long before his birth - been a New England Utopian commune.) I think a number of the alternative rock acts of the 1980s and 1990s had Massachusetts connections, although again not all were born there.

Steve-O said...

RegularJoe doesn’t nail it. Not even close. White folks are fleeing to the mountain west & black folks are on that midnight train to Georgia.

Overpopulation isn’t the problem. Fertility rates are stagnant after removing Mexican immigrants from the equation. Besides, scarcity only explains high prices. Large populations need not result in social unrest. See Abu Dhabi, Singapore & Luxembourg.

Chris said...

Squeezed at the top end by hard-nosed Asian competition, and at the bottom by Mexican growth, the easy days are gone for white people, save for the high income segments.

Wouldn't hard-nosed Asian competetition actually make the quality of life in So Cal. better overall? Anyways, exceptionally prosperous, Asian-heavy neighborhoods aren't particularly numerous in the region. There's San Marino, but that represents, what, seven thousand Asian people?

But your "Mexican growth" explanation for the "disappointment" of whites does make sense. Just think of all the examples of formerly white and formerly decent middle- and working-class areas around LA that have suffered under their replacement populations: Inglewood, Lynwood, Paramount, Westlake, Panorama City, Willowbrook, South Gate, Lincoln Heights, Glassell Park, Maywood, Huntington Park, Carson, Compton, Paramount, Sylmar, Lennox, Bell, Bell Gardens, Van Nuys, Artesia, South El Monte. I think you're onto something.

Anonymous said...

Casa Yo thinks being the dominant group in your own country is a privilege…”Well white people. You know, things might be getting tough for you but you know. Suck it up. Its your fault.”

We need Casa Yo on a loud speaker everyday everywhere at all times in all white households telling white people its your fault and you’re going to suffer now.

Lucius Vorenus said...

I learned in an old iSteve thread that the Ventures were actually from Tacoma, Washington [not California], but apparently Bob Bogle just died:

Bob Bogle of The Ventures dies at 75
Last updated June 15, 2009 10:47 p.m. PT
seattlepi.com

Do not watch any of these videos if you struggle with melancholy or wistful moroseness:

The Ventures "Walk Don't Run"
youtube.com

The Ventures Live: Wipe Out
youtube.com

Hawaii Five 0 Intro
youtube.com

I'm with Michael Savage here - from what I can gather of the historical records, America really did used to be a better place.

Lucius Vorenus said...

There's a better obituary of Bogle here:

Bob Bogle, Ventures' guitarist,
dead at age 75

seattletimes.nwsource.com

...Wilson recalled selling cars in Seattle in the late '50s, when Mr. Bogle walked into his dealership one day. Wilson was struggling to make commission. And when he learned that Mr. Bogle worked construction, Wilson asked if he could get him a job.

"That's why we started working together," Wilson said. "And then we found out that we each knew a few chords on the guitar, you know, and we had a lot of free time on our hands. But neither of us owned a guitar."

The two men bought a pair of guitars and a chord book at a downtown Tacoma pawnshop in 1958, aspiring only to find easier work headlining local nightclubs. But fate had so much more in store for them...


It sounds as though these guys didn't even learn how to play the guitar until they were like 24 or 25 years old.

Anonymous said...

"One would think that an easy environment like California would not produce such hard-nosed talent, but it did (and does) and would be no match for Big 10 players from tough rust belt towns like Flint and Youngstown."

As someone pointed out, a lot of those hard-nosed kids were second generation Oakies (Scots-Irish) or second generation Midwesterners (Scandanavians and Germans), i.e. tough people from tough stock.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous: George Best, IIRC, finished his playing career in the NASL playing for the Los Angeles Aztecs and the San Jose Earthquakes, so there's a California angle to your funny anecdote, too.

@Bob: anyone on the "right" who has studied the immigration issue for more than a couple of minutes knows (or should know) that Big Business and the GOP are screwing us over non-enforcement of labor and immigration laws in order to encourage cheap illegal labor.

Please get off this silly high horse of yours that this is some deep mystery that we have not cottoned on to yet, unlike yourself.

On this blog, of all places, you are not going to find many Freepers and Bushbots and naive Republican Party voters.

Also, you are incorrect, or miss the point, about immigrants not being able to vote and politicians being too short term in their thinking to care about the votes of the children of immigrants.

It doesn't matter what the politicians think; it matters what the people who control the politicians think, and I assure you that they are not short term thinkers.

It was the Democratic Party, in 1965, at the height of the Great Society, that opened the immigration floodgates. This was not a deed that was instigated by the business lobby or free market types: it was done by full bore welfare statists and would be socialists, working for people who knew what they were doing, at the very pinnacle of public confidence in the post-war Social Welfare State.

The cheap labor business lobbies and the GOP leadership hopped on the open borders bandwagon after the immigration tidal wave had already become an established fact on the ground; but they did not create it.

Of course on this board as in most places you'll get called names for mentioning the name of the only people, the only organized identity group, who had spent the 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's lobbying on behalf of unrestricted non-white immigration.

And no, it wasn't the business lobbies, it wasn't the Irish or Italians, it wasn't even the Catholic Church, who were this committed to changing the ethnic character of the USA forever.

Now watch the usual suspects jump all over this post and mock anyone who connects the dots. Pay no attention to that little man behind the curtain. There is nothing to see here, citizen.

Also, remind us again who shut off the immigration flow from Europe in the 1920's? Wasn't it the pro-Big Business GOP who did it? Didn't the low wage, cheap labor types in the Republican Party have any clout in their own Party at the height of its power and in the midst of a decade of prosperity in the 1920s?

Wake up an smell the coffee, dude. The reality of our situation is a lot more complicated than just "cheap labor Big Business types in the GOP are screwing us"; it's true that the GOP are not our friends, but this is such a banal half truth that it borders on the mendacious. We have a lot more enemies and problems than just cheap labor business types.

Reg Cæsar said...

I assume Reg is referring to Aerosmith and the Cars, respectively, but the former is better described as a New York-Massachusetts hybrid. --James Kabala

...and J Geils and 'Boston'. Imports all.

On the other hand, the most influential (behind-the-scenes, mostly) surf-rocker of them all was/is Dick Dale, born Richard Mansour in 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts. He didn't come west until he was 18.

Steve Sailer said...

In case you are coming to this from my "Mad Men" review, Schwarz is almost exactly the same age as Matthew Weiner, creator of "Mad Men," and Schwarz's wife used to work at Harvard-Westlake, the high school Weiner attended.

That doesn't mean their views on this subject are the same, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are.