After living in California for most of the last twenty-five years, I'm packing up my apartment, my family and getting ready to leave the state.
Based on an informal survey of people buying my junk from Craigslist, leaving seems to be on a lot of people's minds. As they cart away my kid's bunkbed, they ask why we're moving to New Mexico and then wistfully chat a little bit about getting out themselves....to Colorado, maybe...or up to Oregon...or even back East.
In one sense, this isn't new. As long as I've lived in Los Angeles, talking about how much you hate Los Angeles is one of the popular pastimes of people who live in Los Angeles. I'm not one of those people, I think California is great.
In fact, California is so great it's impossible to live here. Putting a roof over your head is way too expensive. Everything is too crowded. California's budget problems are national news.
Maybe part of California's problem is that it's just too damn big. This turned out to be an issue for Roman Empire or so I've learned on Wikipedia and HBO. I think another problem with Rome was that their British accents were sometimes hard to understand but this part is unclear to me.
California is at least two states, maybe more. The big gap is the one that separates cities like L.A. and San Francisco from cities like Bakersfield and Fresno. Maybe it's time to do what the earthquakes couldn't do: split the state in half.
Pick a point maybe fifty miles inland and then split the whole state from the Oregon border to Mexico. East California will have abundant farms, sweeping panoramas from the high desert to the mountains, and good, hard working people. West California will have the beach, the entertainment and computer industries, gay marriage and legal weed. If we can figure out what the hell to do with Orange County, we're good.
Until then, California is stuck together. It's Sodom to the west and 1976 Mississippi to the east and they both have their own political representation. That creates a natural deadlock in Sacramento that even an Action Hero Governor couldn't break through with the help of an army of CGI artists.
The California legislature is like a constipated man three days after a marathon gourgefest at Hometown Buffet, stuffed with a variety of noxious substances that don't really belong together but nothing is moving because it's totally, completely and utterly full of shit.
Everyone who follows California politics knows that there's no easy solution. A boring politician like the appropriately named "Gray" Davis couldn't fix the mess and neither could the Stunt Governor. Soon, car registration will cost more than a car, the DMV will be open one day a month, and home schooling in California will flourish because it will be the only available option.
It didn't have to be this way. You're probably thinking what most people in California think. It all could have been so different if we'd just done the smart, mature thing a few years ago and elected Gary Coleman.
But that California dream ended the way so many do; on a basic cable reality show.
So, in a total inversion of the pioneer spirit that built this nation, we're packing up the minivan, and getting the DVDs and Nintendo DS ready for the hard journey east. In a bizarre twist, I'm moving to New Mexico to make movies. We'll always like visiting California. But now, it's time to go.
Hasta la vista, baby.
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