When the political situation (or whatever else bothers me) seems really crazy, it’s time to ride. Little problems–city manager screwing the people who live here, what more should we expect–can be a local ride; often the bicycle is more effective than a two-wheeler with an engine because of the personal energy expended. Then, there are those conditions that require a bit more time on the road. It’s scooter time. The image above is from one of those pointless hegiras back in late spring of 1992. Yes. Remember? Following an unbearable eight years with the great forgetter, Ronnie R, George the First was considered a shoo-in for re-election. Bubba Billy Clinton was a pimple on the great Bush’s ass, a minor irritation. Bush had wiped out Hussein’s forces in Iraq. The US had suffered more casualties from misguided missiles than from Iraqi guns. The same President who presided over the Savings and Loan debacle and managed to emerge clueless was going to have another four. Noooo way the bumpkin from Ar-Kansas would whup George. I tossed an old aviators bag on the back of the BMW, packed both system cases then pointed the front tire westward. San Diego then north, I parked alongside the Pacific Coast Highway near Sea Cliff and walked down to the water.
The ride was soothing; miles of no particular place to go, hours in the saddle, stopping when I wanted to breath deeply. Entering Santa Barbara, I paused to call some people I remembered from when I lived in Carpinteria in the mid-70s. Surprise. They were still in the book. Another surprise. They were still drinking, smoking, getting small at every possible opportunity. I chatted for a few minutes then moved on down the road. By now, Bush was forgotten. I was more interested in why people who were once part of my life had stayed where they were not just geographically but psychologically. Geographically I understood. Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Summerland, Goleta, Isla Vista…it’s not difficult to spend one’s life in a coastal paradise. Why, then, remain stoned? Merely a matter to ponder as I pushed north. California to Oregon, pause in Lincoln City, on to Aberdeen, Washington, for a day then up the peninsula and another stop, this one in Port Townsend. I almost bought a house in Port Townsend back (1983) when I could still have afforded one that had roof, windows and all those silly amenities.
It was time to return home. My head was clear. Bush didn’t matter. What my buddies in Santa Barbara were doing with their lives was their business, not mine. We each choose our paths, hopefully consciously, otherwise by chance.
Another photo from Southern California to the right; this one near the Santa Barbara Biltmore, an old resort that still occupies a fascinating corner of my memory closet. Back in 1974 I had joined a couple of friends for lunch at the Biltmore. We were all three stopped at the door and informed that our hair was too long to be allowed within the hallowed regions where food was served. To be specific, if a man’s hair reached over his shirt collar, he was an undesirable. That included the City Manager of Carpinteria at the time, who I later learned had also been denied entry to the dining area. He may well have been an undesirable–and I certainly accept that my friends and I likely fit that appelation quite well–but I did and still do find such categorizations to be an unpleasant concommitant of the conservative world.
Then, the return home, mind cleared (not that there’s ever too much going on inside the stone walls of my cranium) and ready to face the vagaries of publishing a bi-monthly art and entertainment magazine.
As we all remember–those of us old enough to remember the 90’s–Bush’s leaves caught a blight and he was a dying shrub. The one act of his Presidency that made a modicum of sense had most likely caused his defeat at the polls. Instead of rolling through Iraq and planting the Stars and Stripes in the middle of Baghdad with Saddam Hussein hanging by a wire from the flagpole, Bush chose to stop the military advance 50 miles from taking the big city. Bush understood the ramifications of tossing Hussein out (or taking his life); Baghdad was A Bridge Too Far, using a WWII analogy.
Bush was right, though keeping him in office because of his one correct major decision seems a rather pointless choice.
What about today? What about the uber-rich Romney? Is there a possibility he could be nominated as the Republican candidate for President? Likely, as it appears now. Is he a better choice than Gingrich? That’s not a useful question and there is no suitable answer.
Is it time for another ride? Probably not. Enough years have swept by, enough mile-markers on the highway of life, that I mostly accept that all of this political action is no more than theater of the absurd. I can ride for fun, I can ride for enjoyment…but I’m no longer at the point of needing to ride. That’slikely yet to come. On Newt, on Mitt, on Rick and on Ron, on Rudolph, on Blitzen, on Britney Spears if I get lucky.