California Schemin'
March 12, 2011 1:14 PM   Subscribe

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble

For whatever reason, this link is not working. The specific error message was that I could not open the link because 'too many redirectshave occured.'

I left California because it's way too damn expensive.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:22 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

That was very moving.

California is an extraordinarily beautiful place, particularly San Francisco, but it is also as KR suggests extraordinarily expensive. I've been told by reliable persons who know my skill set that I could make three times the money I do if I moved to Silicon Valley. The problem, as nearly as I can figure it, is that my standard of living would almost certainly be poorer than it is here in Louisiana.
posted by localroger at 1:30 PM on March 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

When Woody wrote that song he was referring mostly to the Oakies...the refugees of the Dust Bowl (immortalized in Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath)...
the fruit pickers now are Mexicans, legal or otherwise...Would be interesting to discover what happened to all those Oakies who got help from the Federal (Socialist!) govt...what ldid they end up doing? Yes. Calif expensive now. But so too many places in America.
posted by Postroad at 1:31 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

> He'd talk about how, twice in two years, my brother had crashed the Alfa Romeo he'd bought him, and my father couldn't help beaming with pride.

"That's my boy! Sure, today he's just a kid, all he can crash is cars. But one day he'll be a big shot, crashing entire economies!"

> Several driver's licenses spilled out, each with my father's picture on it. He scrambled to put them back, and I pretended not to look. I did not want to think about what sort of con he might be perpetrating, did not want to see how far he had fallen.

Seeing as how he was running an American S&L during the '80s he probably hadn't fallen far at all.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:31 PM on March 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

My experience parallels this guy's in some ways. Grew up outside of Baltimore, moved to California (as an adult, because of work). But the parts of it I liked - the Central Coast, in particular - weren't the parts I could live or work in. People at home would ask about it with wide-eyed jealousy and I'd just say, "I'm sure 'California' is great. Shame I don't live there."
posted by el_lupino at 1:34 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I knew nothing about the real estate crash, of course, or that savings and loans like my father's were going bankrupt all over the country, the calamitous tide of fraud and reckless lending that would become the S&L crisis. I didn't know that it would culminate in the failure of 1,043 S&L's or cost taxpayers over $120 billion to repair the damage.



Ah the S&L crisis, ominous foreshadowing of everything fucked up in America...

The US Office of Thrift Supervision investigated Silverado's failure and determined that Neil Bush had engaged in numerous "breaches of his fiduciary duties involving multiple conflicts of interest." Although Bush was not indicted on criminal charges, a civil action was brought against him and the other Silverado directors by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; it was eventually settled out of court, with Bush paying $50,000 as part of the settlement, as reported in the Style section of the Washington Post.[3] A Republican fundraiser set up a fund to help defer costs Neil incurred in his S&L dealings.[4] cite

Ah but thank God the unions in WI are being busted, amirite...

M&I Bank CEO and his wife gave $20,000 to Walker in recent years. When you package individual and PAC contributions by employers, M&I Bank is number one -- at $57,000 dollars. The firm apparently uses a conduit to bundle much of its money to Walker. [...] M&I Bank is in the process of being bought by a Canadian bank. It took $2 billion in TARP bailout money from the taxpayers and have yet to pay it back. cite

plus ça change, and all that

posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 1:47 PM on March 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

posted by Postroad at 2:46 PM on March 12, 2011

I was interested in what exactly his father did. Here's an obituary. As a sanitized version of his life, it probably holds little interest to most readers, but I happen to read obituaries every day as part of my job and I like seeing both sides of an iceberg for once.

Two news articles from the '80s:
4 Beach Bank Shareholders Seek OK to Gain Control
Investment S&L Tries to Rebuild Profits With Aid of New Leader

It's not much to find, but I'm an archivist by nature and it doesn't take much to fascinate me.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:47 PM on March 12, 2011 [6 favorites]

"My father was a worthless cocksucker, and this is my article in GQ about it."
posted by nevercalm at 2:48 PM on March 12, 2011 [8 favorites]

I can totally relate to this.

My father owned controlling interest in some railroads and was building hotels in high-rent neighborhoods (Park Place, Boardwalk,...). But then he went to jail. Directly to jail. He did not pass Go. He did not collect $200.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:48 PM on March 12, 2011 [10 favorites]

Haven't read a story with such a real villain in a long time.
posted by telstar at 4:01 PM on March 12, 2011

I couldn't afford to move to the Central California Coast while I was employed. As soon as I was officially designated Permanently Disabled, I found a small, cheap* but scenic apartment outside S.L.O. and settled in. Can't afford much, but not physically able to do that much. It's a lifestyle and better than Metro L.A. could give me.

*relatively. under $750 a month doesn't give you much here
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:20 PM on March 12, 2011

I admired him for rejecting his father's bogus ideals of California and discovering a California that spoke to him, that reflected who he was.

I have to say, no matter how grossly narcissistic his father was, I felt a pang of sympathy when the writer disclosed that his father had been a poor kid in a Milwaukee prep school.

I've been down that road and believe me when I tell you that that experience can seriously fuck you up on a whole bunch of levels. I never mistreated anyone the way his father did and I never committed the same crimes. But maybe in another life . . . if I'd had a meaner disposition, or if I'd made different life choices, who knows?
posted by jason's_planet at 4:42 PM on March 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

I enjoyed the article, but his father is the very definition of a douchebag. His father was also a slightly grander version of the father of a friend of mine, and that dude fucked my friend up in all sorts of ways.

(Also, I needed an older sister with friends who I could have sex with pretty desperately when I was a teen. Another reason to complain to my parents.*)

* This will be added to the bitching about the lack of a trust fund, etc.
posted by maxwelton at 4:54 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I came out to California for a two week visit, ended up staying, and have been here 11 years now. When I arrived people would ask me what I did, and when I told them my ideas, instead of answering me with the cynicism I was used to hearing back east, they would get excited and offer to introduce me to people they knew and share their ideas and opportunities with me. This, I found out, is not an uncommon story.

My generalized belief: in CA people believe you are who you say you are until you prove otherwise (and even then they'll cut you more slack than you probably deserve). Folks come here to take advantage of that chance to re-invent themselves. It hasn't been an easy journey, but our little family has settled & prospered here.

CA is gullible, they worship Mickey Mouse & Ronald Reagan, and it's certainly capital-intensive - but there is something about the dream that can and does sometimes come true as well.
posted by squalor at 5:01 PM on March 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

I am also on disability. I am o.k. where I am in Central Washington. The housing choices- $750 though are:
1. Totally substandard. Likely in a bad neighborhood.
2. Pay 750+ for something o.k.
3. Public housing designated for seniors or disabled. So where I live sometimes seems like a nursing home but not so regimented. I am fine with that, I can afford it, I can see my grandkids, no sex offenders or violent people are allowed. People can have a small pet. I wish I had it that good when I was working and raising my kids.
This would not have happened for me in California. I probably would be living in an SRO or on the streets. SROs in San Francisco are simply awful.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:04 PM on March 12, 2011

california dosen't actually exist. It's some movie producers fever dream.
posted by jonmc at 5:22 PM on March 12, 2011

This story is not new or unique. I am in the middle of composing a blog post about Wallace Stegner, whose father could have been considered a grifter always chasing for where "the bluebird sings by the lemonade springs." He wrote a devastating summary of his dad's life which included for the ending (paraphrasing very closely here):

"he died penniless and friendless of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a fleabag hotel hundreds of miles from his last permanent address".

There remains an unimaginably large expanse of land/opportunity in Alaska so the stories are far from over.
posted by bukvich at 7:01 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Postroad, are you drunk tonight?
It sounds like you are drunk tonight.
That is ok, I am also drunk tonight
Today is the saint Patrick's day parade,
and I am also yelling at everyone.
posted by St. Sorryass at 7:15 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by rdc at 7:32 PM on March 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's not California here.

(Though that's not true. It's always been California here for me.)
posted by eyeballkid at 7:33 PM on March 12, 2011

Too right, squalor. Everything I've ever seen that has waxed philosophical about Californians has called it a state of "dreamers" - which is a term that is very easily overloaded to describe California very, very well. Got a weirdo cult, or a crazy diet, or a get-rich-quick scheme? Or, on the other hand, a genius startup idea, or a brand new industry you've just invented? You will find someone in California who will sign on - you will find someone in California who will risk everything for your idea. Californians want to believe, no matter what you're telling them. I cherish this about California - I've lived in LA for all but a few years of my life and when I was away I always missed it - but I have to imagine it wears a little thin for a lot of transplants. We are not, as a population, even a little bit cynical, and sometimes we ought to be.
posted by troublesome at 8:53 PM on March 12, 2011

I got something very different from this article. To me it was about a guy doing his best to deliver the American Dream to his family, and succeeding until the S&L failures ruined him.
His divorce and failure to get back to previous heights left him a sad nobody.
But the story is written by the son, a poor little rich boy, who resents his father's affection for his other siblings, resents his father's lavish gifts, and looks back with rage at his father trying to help him fit in with a group.
Everyone has issues with the way their parents raised them, but this author has worked hard to paint his father in the worst light possible, for what, I expect, remembering the 1980s, were actions that just about everyone else at the time would have applauded as awesome parenting.
Ungrateful much?
posted by bystander at 4:20 AM on March 13, 2011

I grew up in very modest circumstances in California, ironically about 150 feet from the beach. My mom's father gave her his beach house, upon her marriage. My dad owned a small business, which was always a stuggle, up until he died.

I knew, and knew of, people like this guy, although most of those types of people, the rich and the people striving to be rich, had nothing to do with people like my family, lower middle-class, destined to stay there, except the resentment that our little houses resided on lots which, in their minds, should have had large expensive houses on them. This is still going on. People "make it" or strive to, and move to the beach in order to live their dream. This has been going on for decades, and these people find "us" in their way. My mom still lives there, and her house is basically seen as a tear-down.

Occasionally, as teens we went to parties in Rolling Hills and other affluent communities up on the hill. The kids up there viewed us beach kids as a bit more more exotic and interesting, hence invited us. Wild parties up there. . .what sticks in my mind was the parents of one kids I knew getting drunk and using a roast turkey as a football out on the lawn. . .this turkey would have supplied several dinners to my family, but it was meaningless as sustinance.

All of this tends to color my largely unfavorable view of affuent, or wanna-be affuent people.
posted by Danf at 9:12 AM on March 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

But I think it only fair to warn ya
All those songs about California lied
The stars won't shine tonight
It isn't going to be alright.
- "California In Popular Song", The Lucksmiths
posted by maryr at 10:40 AM on March 13, 2011

Katjusa Roquette, are you talking about D.C., or Washington state?
posted by rainperimeter at 4:10 PM on March 13, 2011

I've always noticed that the people who hate CA don't actually live here.

Which is nice.

That they don't live here, I mean.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:42 AM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

eyeballkid: i dont hate CA with skiing the San Gabriels, surfing San Onofre, climbing in Joshua Tree, and backpacking the John Muir Trail but im glad that after my first 33 years there that i dont live there anymore.

too many people.
posted by dongolier at 2:53 PM on March 14, 2011

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