Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Golden State

Matt thirsts for California like it's Coca Cola. I didn't get that for a while. All I knew of it growing up was what I had awkwardly meshed together from reading about Dawn from the Babysitter's Club and Rodney King. The Mamas and the Papas, too, the record spinning on the Victrola: you know the preacher lights the coals/ he knows I'm gonna stay*... I should be pardoned for sounding like an immigrant from the eastern bloc; it is pretty far away.
The first time I went and got to know Matthew's family better, I was surprised (perhaps stupidly) to discover that they're a lot like him**. Except that they have an accent. (They do.)
I think where you're from always kind of sticks in your bones. I like that in Spanish, you say "soy de" and never "estoy de" because it's a permanent term; an essence, not a state. We had some friends over the other day. Knowing we were new in town, they asked if we had a doctor for our kids. I said I couldn't remember his name, but that he was Chinese, and that we go to the clinic over by Goodwill. They said "Oh, Dr. Wang***?" Yeah, I said. That's him. "He's Polish" they said. As in, his parents moved from China to Poland just before he was born. He speaks Polish with his kids.
Then there's narcocorridos. Mexico has its own version of early nineties gangsta rap; men in giant sombreros with machine guns emblazoned on their jackets singing about beheadings of rival drug lords set to a polka beat, tubas and accordions blasting. A quote in TIME said that the music made the kids in the clubs proud to be Mexican. It made me sick because 1) the people they were talking about in the paragraph are Americans, born in the States, and did not identify with this country at all and 2) that is a terrible thing to be proud of. That kingpin whose face was cut off and sewn onto a soccer ball, sung about in a ballad? You dress up in a tight gold dress and grind to that on a dance floor? Come on.
Sometimes the ser use of I am dates back to the generations before us, but we don't even understand it so we use a cheapened version. I don't know. I have nothing really to say about it. Except that I like the west coast and am glad that my husband has some gold in his blood.
That is the worst conclusion ever. Acknowledged.

*Oh my word! And that awful Saturday morning show that came on in the early '90's (California Dreamin'.) Do you remember? The band, the blond girl on the keyboard? Kind of like Saved by the Bell but not at all.
**I stubbornly held to the notion that all white Californians are blond and tan. They all surf and say dude. Of course I, like every other person between the ages of 13 and 35****, have heard Phantom Planet. And of course Jason Schwartzman looks not at all Californian. And yet.
***Named changed for privacy because people read this, apparently
. Who are you? I seriously want to know. This site is somehow linked to a Russian furniture store's website. I don't understand. But I dig it, I do.
****Am I allowed to give a footnote a footnote? Yikes. I am out of control. But let it be noted that Phantom Planet never should have sold their song to The OC. It's like how people will always think of beef when they hear that Copland song, even if you paid money to watch an orchestra play. A plate of meat. That's it.


The Goodfellas said...

no takers no takers? ...really?
(i suppose it was kind of weird.)

B said...

i like it, jenny. great thoughts here. and you remind me of david foster wallace with those footnotes to footnotes! -beth p