Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Well, east coast girls are hip (that's right; we're back)

The American West coast is without a doubt the worst thing to happen to our nation since the American East coast.
That being said, it is definitively important to remember that the East coast, unlike its sunburned, smug little brother, is not all bad, having brought us, after all, not only John Adams, but also milkmen, lunch pails and Melungeons, as well as our very first liasons with the Canadians. Back in the day, Virginia claimed throne of sophistication and luxury, while the west loomed a slovenly wilderness of gophers and poorly surveyed homesteads. We could console ourselves with the land's savagery; what it lacked in refinement, it made up for in boll weevils; what it craved in intellectual discourse, it fed with sprawling fields of grass. There were barn raisings aplenty.

But the glorly couldn't last. The west changed. We built square gray buildings; we discovered surfing. Cowboys and Indians has been replaced with Xenophobes and Mexicans, and the murderous broods of horse thieves that once roamed the land have settled down to manage L.L. Bean outlet stores. Nary a mail-order Chinese bride, and all we have to show for ourselves in the betrothal department is Bristol Palin. And although Governor Sarah makes it look easy to shoot game, disenfranchise women, and establish reckless dictorship over an isolated town, I can assure that not all the grandeur of Gunsmoke has been so well preserved. Sure, Idaho was the tops in 1838; I'll grant it that: it was the place to be, especially for frustrated young men with a taste for ruthlessness and no hope of sexual satisfaction anyway. But we have anime for that now.

Meanwhile, the East has lost none of its glory; still industrial, still smoke-sooted, still stressful, incomprehensibly diverse, overcrowded, and painfully cerebral, it remains the gilded gloryseat of urban fulfillment. Why waste your years doing pilates and sipping yerba mate when you could be profiting from every espresso-jacked moment? Why ponder canyons when you can fall into electrically-charged subway tracks? People, please.
There comes a time when every woman must choose her heroes. This is not a question of land, of space, but of the human spirit, and we must ask ourselves, once and for all: Dr. Weil or Dr. Oz? Shwayze or T-Pain? Leno or Letterman? These are the chasms we must cross, both spiritual and intellectual, before we can achieve unity once and for all. But we must first remember what will unite us in the end: deep and enduring scorn for the midwest.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Go West, Young Man!

By Lauren Wood

A wise philosopher, Andre Romelle Young (known affectionately and professionally as Dr. Dre), once said "Cali is where they put they mack down."

I'm not really sure what this means, but I do know that it is meant to affirm the glory of the American West Coast. A land where cities are not merely industrial clusters packed with convenience-seeking residents, but meccas of culture and scenery. It is no wonder that the brightest stars of our generation have come to California to create their fate.

The West Coast is the Promised Land.

I chose this topic in light of my recent experiences on this half of our fine nation. I should point out that I have always been an East-Coast Girl. I was born and reside in Atlanta, Georgia. I go to school in a major Northeast coastal capital. I celebrate my birthday in that most infamous of American metropolises. And I vacation in/loathe Florida. As a result of all this, I am uptight, busy, rude (to be fair, Southern girls may not actually be your face), and direct. I am also focused solely on commercialism.

However, my co-op position with Campus MovieFest (the world's largest student film festival! sign up today!) has recently brought me across the Mississippi, and out to the Golden State, where the atmosphere is decidedly different. Californians, and West-Coasters in general, I feel, do not trouble themselves with silly things like deadlines or social boundaries. When you run into a fellow pedestrian on your way to class in California, you do not push them to the ground without a word. More often than not, you have launched a beautiful friendship based on mutual appreciation for the the surrounding nature, marijuana, tie-dye, and hair (all of which probably distracted you in the first place). And if the collision does not lead to friendship, but hostility, than you need not pay it any heed. It's his/her journey, man. Let it go. Peace.

This is not to say, of course, that California is not without its quirks, eccentricities, or just-plain weirdness. Why, just today, when I was at UC Berkeley, I saw:

-A man in makeshift pharaoh attire (complete with snake-shaped shaft)
-A large dog without an owner who frolicked in the fountain
-A girl dressed as a bottle of KY Jelly dancing with another girl dressed as a condom
-A crazy Christian railing against the devil
-A man standing on a chair saying "Happy happy happy happy happy" over and over again
-A campus group for every Asian nation and major (Laotian Philosophy Majors Student Association!)
-A student who actually bought food for a homeless man

My conclusion on this score is that while East Coasters are also crazy, their insanity is based on a hypersensitivity to reality and its pressures, while those on the West Coast choose to completely disregard reality. This is a far superior defense.

So while I doubt that Andrew Jackson had Mr. Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy in mind when he advocated for "Manifest Destiny," I am sure he would not disapprove. This belief in the American ability to reach its own outer-limits is perfectly demonstrated by the weirdly wonderful kooks in Cali.

Maybe one day, I'll have the courage to be kooky, too. For now, I'm just enjoying the trip.