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.

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