Pete's Blog

California

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I just posted a Byrds video on Facebook with the comment that it's hard to remember now just what a mythic place California seemed in the '60s, especially to those of us in the East. Of course there are plenty of aging types here in Washington who illustrate just how gone that myth is now. "There is no California," says the song ("Holding On," on the From the Island CD, available at this site right here) and certainly Bainbridge Island has its share of former religious cultists, burnouts, survivalists, and refugees from the megalopolis. But something of the old West Coast hippie pastoral remains. It's mostly in the women, because a race of goddesses (and that's what it was - a new kind of woman, a new kind of elegance: physical, comfortable in one's own skin, a scent of horse barn, salt water, and really good French perfume) doesn't just disappear after they've sprung fully armored from the brow of Jove. Even crossing a parking lot or waiting for a ferry, a woman of a certain age will turn her head or cant her shoulders and a world of possibility will open up. And on those rare occasions when that possibility includes you, when it's not just the head or the shoulders but the eyes that come into play, a man can feel himself both fully in command and entirely at sea, a feeling seductive in the purest sense of the word. And when the attitude is backed by the heart, when the inner life is as genuine as the facade, well then, boy, you have a goddess on your hands. I can tell you that from personal experience. It may have been exploited and betrayed, messiahed and commercialized. It may have collapsed under its own weight or under the weight of the expectations of the rest of the world, taken for all there was to take, smashed by those whose reaction is always to smash, but (for want of a better term) the California Dream lives on in those goddesses in exile, farm girls and beach chicks who made themselves into the template for modern femininity around the world. Wish they all could be California girls? Brian, today they ARE all California Girls.

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