The Coast News Group
Sea Notes

What about a ‘Don’t visit California’ commercial?

Have you seen that
“visit California” commercial where they show a variety of people telling you why you should come here? Made me want to do a commercial of my own, to tell people to save fuel and stay home.
The original commercial features a bunch of people who are meant to represent California, even though they look like they’re from the Midwest. Having been born here way back in 1948, I guess I qualify as an expert witness. Well, maybe in my region, or at least the block. OK, so I don’t even know what’s going on in my house. Still, I have an opinion, if you care to listen to it.
My commercial would show California as one big freeway leading to one big outlet mall featuring endless rows of T-shirts with cute sayings on them next to racks of over-priced sunglasses.
It would feature angry locals fighting it out for blown-out surf and spray painting “tourists go home” on rent-a-cars.
I would star as the local curmudgeon, from time to time screaming, “Get off my lawn and turn down that radio!” My commercial would feature all the cardboard architecture that has become North County with bulldozers tearing down anything of value and replacing it with stucco duplexes.
My commercial would offer star maps to the nearest rehab facility. It would feature newspapers advertising houses for 10,000 times the national average. It would show the crack heads in the alley. Gunshots and trucks without mufflers would serve as the soundtrack. All of the extras would all smile in a creepy, Stepford Wife sort of way while chanting, “Have a nice day,” in unison.
My friend and neighbor Joey could be in my commercial, wearing the T-shirt he says he’s going to design someday, “Cardiff-by-the-Sea, the worst town in the world!” (BTW, that thing would outsell Cardiff Kook calendars two to one, so get on it, Joey.)
There would be testimonies from all the locals who grew up here and moved to Montana or Cabo or Vista. It would show families packing their belongings as their houses were foreclosed on before they took the long road to the inland dust bowl. It would feature a new monster mall in a previously traditional downtown. There would be a for sale sign in front of the post office in the adjacent town.
Thinking about it reminds me of why I left here in 1972 and why I try to drive out to the Arizona desert every weekend. I respect that you love it here, but why do you have to tell everyone and anyone, unless your business depends upon it? That, I understand. But if you love it as it is, advertising it will help accelerate its change.
Last weekend the desert was quiet and clean and I passed at least three vans with surfboards on top, heading toward the coast. In the desert you can remember your name and the stars go on forever. I heard my heart beat and remembered that we live in a special corner of the Milky Way Galaxy. I slept outside to the sounds of crickets, bullfrogs and a lonely coyote, not missing the roar of midnight ramblers moving down my street far beyond midnight.
The Santa Ana wind just kicked in again. Walk 10 feet and look at the surf. Small, but not bad. Not too crowded and I can see the sandy bottom. Here’s a little secret. I love this place so much that I jealously guard every old house, ever tree and every empty lot. I’m selfish enough to keep the good news to myself. I probably won’t make that “I hate California” commercial, but I wouldn’t mind become Joey’s first T-shirt rep. Don’t just hate it here; tell your friends.