The Land of Dreams

 Posted by on July 17, 2012 at 8:11 am  Season 2, Season 5
Jul 172012
 

In Christmas Waltz, Harry offers Paul 500 dollars and a ticket to Los Angeles, on the provision that he leaves everything behind and goes right away. “You don’t understand what it’s like out there,” Harry tells him. “This failure, this life, it’ll all seem like it happened to someone else.”

This conversation reminded me of the flashback scene in The New Girl, when Don visited Peggy in the hospital and urged her to get out of there and move forward.  “This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened,” he said.

Of course, Don wasn’t talking about California in that scene with Peggy. He just wanted her to move on with her life and put her secrets aside, much as he’s always tried to do. He’s often talked about forward direction; he told his brother Adam that he couldn’t see him because he had a life that only moved in one direction: forward.

But Don has often talked about California as if it was the promised land. He seemed happy and relaxed there when he visited Anna or spent time with Joy. California was also where he fell in love with Megan, of course. He even told a client (the Penn Station guy) in Season 3 that New York was a city in decay, and Los Angeles was a place of hope and brightness.

Harry and Paul seem to share Don’s love of California. For Harry, it’s a place where he can interact with all the movers and shakers. Possibly the healthy, body-conscious LA lifestyle rubbed off on him, since he seemed to be dieting in Season 4 (“Caesar salad, no dressing,”) and looks noticeably thinner in Season 5.

Paul has never been to California (as far as we know), but he did speculate about “Sterling Cooper West” in Season 2, and he seemed excited about the prospect. Now he has a desire to do television writing and Harry is telling him that Los Angeles is the place to be.

Don seems like a New Yorker in his attire and attitude (it’s easy to forget that he didn’t grow up there), and I don’t know that he’d necessarily ever move to California, especially as it would mean uprooting his whole family. Even if he and Megan were to ever separate, he still has three young children in New York. I could see him trying to do more and more business out there, though, since that was already in the works in Season 4 with regard to Disneyland prospects.

I don’t really see Don living in California, but I think, in his mind, it’s the place you go to escape your troubles. He even mentioned it to Rachel in Season 1, back when Pete was first threatening to expose his true identity. He’s now been there a few times and his face always seems to change when he’s there. Even the engagement to Megan was most likely inspired by the alluring spell of a California vacation.

If SCDP ever did open up another branch office, there are certainly characters who would benefit from that option. Joan, fresh from a divorce, could truly make a new beginning. Harry already loves schmoozing there and his marriage doesn’t seem to be that stable (although with a second child on the way, maybe he’ll work on it). If Don ever chose to relocate, and he and Megan stayed together, she could certainly find acting opportunities in Los Angeles. Even Pete, who didn’t seem to enjoy his first visit to California, might like it a little more now that he has a driver’s license.

Could Sterling Cooper West be a real possibility?

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  65 Responses to “The Land of Dreams”

  1. First, awesome post. I love the idea of California being an unexplored frontier for the Mad Men cast.

    As for my thoughts, I would not be surprised if Don attempts to retire in California or if Sally comes of age and moves there to escape the dirtiness of New York. Time will tell. If Megan’s television career expands to larger opportunities, Don could take SCDP west with them. He’s itching for a big change; maybe a cross-country move in the place he’s always felt as home would do him a lot of good. There are many opportunities for the cast members to break out west. All of them are exploring a new way to live in their own ways; a literal push to a new location makes sense.

  2. “Call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye.”

    A band from my childhood (The Eagles) said that. They said it about California. With good reason: the place had become such a magnet by then, all we had in our sunsets was smog.

    People come to California not just because they’re tired of being where they are — they are tired of being who they are. There’s something they have always wanted, and they can’t get it where they were born or grew up, so they come to California to find it. As do the narcissists, the con artists, the chronically restless … and the dreamers.

    Before my family moved here, my Dad flew out to California from Wisconsin to visit a friend who’d moved here from Africa. He fell in love, flew back, and convinced my Mom to pull up stakes and move us here with him. My mother was pregnant with their third child, but off we all went.

    Within the first two years of our new life in California, Bobby Kennedy would be killed a few miles away on a summer night at the Ambassador Hotel. My mother’s cousin would lose some of her temporary neighbors in Benedict Canyon to the murderous Manson Family. And yes, my dad would begin his new life, as first a college student in night classes, then a teacher.

    It is possible, still, to remake yourself, your life, and your luck here. But it’s possible to do that just about anywhere. And the fact remains: no matter how much, how rapidly, or where you change, you still know who you are. That original self is with you to your last day. The harder you fight to hide it, the more visible it becomes. You might even find yourself dreaming of the self and the life you left behind.

    The place each person tries to make into his or her own paradise is finally paradise to no one. It’s just crowded, a shopping mall full of useless crap, waiting to fill its customers’ endless needs … and dying in place when those customers start to need other things.

    Which sounds, actually, more like hell.

    • You’re so poetic Anne B :)

      You really hit California on the head (or in my head space, Los Angeles in particular). I was beckoned there after college in NYC and within 6 months of going out there with Manifest Destiny in my head, and drinking up all that sunshine, I was crying on the curb of Santa Monica Blvd. car-less, broke, and sharing a living space with my high school friend and some guy who turned out to be a drug addict. That place does attract the dreamers..and the crazies, and the con-men, as you say.

      • “Look at that mountain-look at those trees/Look at that bum over there man, he’s down on his knees….”

        • This is the perfect LA anthem. Randy Newman knows the place so well. But, then, his family is LA royalty.

          • At the end of the “I Love LA” video, you will find a link to “Dixie Flyer,” in which LA native Randy Newman refers to New Orleans as “The Land of Dreams.”

            IMO, the most realistic song about California is “Do Re Mi,” perfomed below by Nanci Griffith and Guy Clark. It’s my 2nd favorite version, #1 is a 6 min polka version by Ry Cooder (also linked at end of video).

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWvtzcPYucQ&feature=related

          • I myself love New Orleans, like Randy Newman, so His NOLA inspired music is among my favorites (the Sail Away album, particularly).

            I wasn’t familiar with this particular Woody Guthrie song, but after checking them out, I find the lyrics maybe a little odd for that period. California is full of people whose families arrived here from OK, TX and LA during the 30′s and 40′s. Then again, until very recently CA has been pretty inundated by newcomers in general.

            There aren’t any jobs to be had here right now and life in coastal California is too expensive for sure these days, but the state took in lots of Dust Bowl refugees.

          • Hollis, I am a huge fan of Randy Newman’s Land of Dreams CD and especially the song “Dixie Flyer,” which I find incredibly moving. I couldn’t find a way to incorporate the song lyrics into the blog post (I thought about posting a quote), since he was talking about New Orleans rather than Los Angeles. But still, I would like to credit Mr. Newman for the inspiration. He’s a marvelous songwriter.

          • When I heard “Land of Dreams” I finally understood why Mr. Newman wrote “Good Old Boys.”

        • I had to add the L.A. video with Mr. Bean

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD15H0NDGys

          • Wow! You have a great long attention span. Excellent video for a day when “those Santa Ana winds are blowin” here in LA. Really enjoyed it never having seen this movie.

  3. BTW: great post, Mad Chick. :)

  4. There are other places in this world? I’m a New Yawker, born and raised. :)

    Don would shift to Cali if he really, really needs to be Whitman. Which would his 3rd and final act of incarnation.
    Agree with the Eagles: Wherever you go, that’s where YOU are.

    • First, I forgot to say earlier, great post Mad Chick!

      TK, I never thought about the idea of Don Draper ending the series as…Dick Whitman. That would be kind of awesome! When Peggy left this season I thought, okay, our predictions will come true. Don will miss working with her, she’ll climb high, and they will rejoin by opening their own agency that many of us predicted since the beginning. I still see that happening. I just do. I don’t see any way that Peggy would return to Sterling Cooper without it being a bit cheesy. But, you can’t have Mad Men without the Don and Peggy dynamic so how do they rejoin forces? Either Draper/Olson or Sterling Cooper West.

      Wait, with Joan now a high level partner, could we ever see a Draper Olson Holloway? Because if Don ever left to start his own place, the only two people I can see him wanting to really work with are Joan and Peggy.

      But yes, TK, what happens if it ends up Whitman/Olson? Bananas. Then again, my predictions are so accurate that I thought Joan/Lane would be an endgame couple for the series. So……………..

      And also TK, I agree, it’s NY or nothing.

      • Draper Olson Holloway – I like it.

        Alas, business is about more than liking your partners. Without a Campbell or a Cosgrove, you don;t have accounts and no realistic way to sustain the new firm.

        The SCDP partners all brought something to the table. Cooper brought money, his name and connections. Sterling – money and Lucky Strike. Draper – creative genius and the ability to sell ideas. Pryce – the crucial escape and money managing. Campbell – about $10-million/year in accounts and the ability to get more.

      • Draper Olson Holloway.

        DOH

        They could handle Simpson’s merchandise.

  5. Having spent the majority of my life in SoCal, naturally I have a lot of knowledge and opinions about it, so I enjoyed reading your post, Mad Chick. I’m not sure I can imagine SCDP moving to LA, but as I wrote on this blog once before, one of my favorite Don Draper quick scenes is the one of a carefree DD coasting along PCH in that red convertible. It’s one of those perfect 60′s LA images, in the time when my family (like Anne B’s) arrived. I think that Matt Weiner walks around with an LA picture kind of similar to mine in his head. I can easily see Don ending up here, but for some Mad Men (like Pete), it’s pretty hard to imagine; you have to enjoy driving, the smooth moving kind (and accept the traffic jam as well, not so much in the MM era, though). You gotta be a little Zen. DD always seems to walk more lightly here, freeer of his burdens. It would be really freeing for Betty, too.

    Los Angeles is definitely ‘film noir’, bright Mediterranean light along with deep shadows. The original land looks a lot like Sicily. It’s full of renewal and corruption, drama and boredom, and creativity along with traditions unrecognized by those who haven’t been here long or don’t take the time to understand the place. New York is stage, and LA is cinema. That always fits as metaphor for me. Anthony Bourdain is probably my favorite New York visitor to LA because he really gets this place. He generally visits and reports on the SoCal I know as a longtime resident. New York is always sending people out here who move only in the show biz/Westside bubble and who otherwise seem to have poor observational skills, but love to tell the world what LA is all about. I was pleased to hear John Slattery say on some talk show that he likes LA in spite of being born and raised Bostonian.

    When I left SoCal as a very young adult, my feelings were pretty much like those of Anne B’s final words, it was hellish and full of superficial stuff. When I returned as a more mature adult, I took the time to really live and move around in the actual place. I still see that tackiness in parts and in places, but I also see its massive diversity and history in a way that I didn’t growing up.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in NYC and other places, and everytime I return, upon leaving LAX or one of the other local airports, I’m comforted to move out into that true western sense of space that is home. There’s so much more room to move around in, even on the freeways, which are wonderful in contrast to Eastern roads. I live in a place of great ethnic diversity and interact with people from all over the world everyday, like people do in London and New York. Under the skin, LA is a latin creation as a city. Having lived in Latin-America, I see that in a way I probably wouldn’t if I had spent my whole life here. When I go to NYC, I’m always taken by how it is a fundamentally Europeanate city – so different from LA, but good too. Personally, I’d enjoy being bi-coastal in an ideal world.

    Anyway, back to MM. LA is a great place for second and third and even fourth chances. DD could definitely end up here. I hope we’ll get to see how the story of Paul Kinsey turns out. His NJ/NY story was a pretty sad one, but he might do better in LA as Harry suggests. I could see Harry here too, as an insufferable Hollywood agent maybe.

    BTW, Anne B, loved your comment, “People come to California not just because they’re tired of being where they are – they’re tired of being who they are”.

    • I see I wrote the same thing to Anne B twice. I thought I had deleted it. Sorry.

      No worries–I went in & edited/deleted the part that appeared twice! Thanks for your post. -MadChick :)

    • Under the skin, LA is a latin creation as a city.

      I completely agree with this. When I feel comfort on my visits “home”, this is what I’m feeling, I think: the relaxed pace that must have been there in the beginning, the sense of space and possibility, the fun. And the food.

      I don’t often feel that sense of fun these days, but the food is still awesome — and the best of it is a Latin creation, too. :)

  6. “I was in California. Everything is new, and it’s clean. The people are filled with hope”. Don was probably talking mostly about himself in that iconic “Change the conversation” pitch, which to me is the equal of The Wheel.
    This pitch occured in Love Among the Ruins—-my favorite episode.
    Im even more proud to note, that I must be the only Maddict whose fave ep this is. I’m weird like that. :)

    • Yes! Well not my favorite, but I always thought it an excellent and under-rated episode. Great pitch from Don, the whole Gene issue where again Don just rocks, and finally, that great May Day ending. Wow.

      People diss the early episodes of Season 3. I loved them and the whole season. Of course I’m weird. Fly and Problem Dog might be my favorite BB episodes.

  7. not to be a wet blanket here, but isn’t there a history of TV shows “moving to California” either after they’ve jumped the shark, or as the jump the shark moment? I’m thinking of Laverne and Shirley, but I know there were more. Isn’t one of the classic “re-boot a series that’s going stale” moves in television, along with adding a child or forcing a sexual relationship onto heretofore uninterested characters, to move the whole story (including supporting characters who made no sense moving with the main cast) to another city? Has it ever worked?

    Now, that said, if anyone could use and subvert that old trope and make it beautiful and meaningful, I’m sure it would be Matt Weiner, with Mad Men.

    • Well, the Fonz actually jumped the shark in California. So I’d agree.

      More recently, shows tend to “jump the shark” in the Hawaii Episode (the new California Episode), the Series Crossover Episode (CSI team meets Missing Persons team!), or the Very Special Episode (Sorkin decides to write about 9/11!).

      Matt Weiner, if you’re reading this: please don’t do a Very Special Episode. Ever.

    • I tend to hate vacation episodes, but “Mad Men” does it differently. When Don and Betty went to Rome, hijinks involving national treasures and translators didn’t happen. When Don and the kids went to Disneyland, no one got lost in the park, and the one character they were really hoping to meet but hadn’t seen yet appears at just the right moment to take him or her back to their family. “Mad Men” doesn’t do the normal travel episodes. I do see Draper Olsen Harris as a possibility. Ken would come along as the accounts man.

      • and the one character they were really hoping to meet but hadn’t seen yet appears at just the right moment to take him or her back to their family.

        Is this a reference from another show? Sounds vaguely familar.

        • It’s possible. I didn’t have a specific show in mind when I wrote this, just the generic, what happens when family sitcoms go to Disneyland. If it sounds familiar, that was kind of the point.

      • I was thinking of the Brady Bunch Hawaii episodes (there were two or more, right?): something about a tiki statue and a run of bad luck? A tarantula thrown in there somewhere?

        People think Cousin Oliver killed the show, but no. First Hawaii, then the whole singing-Brady-kids business? (Have you even heard their version of “American Pie”?) Greg as “Johnny Bravo”? COME ON.

        The Brady kids took that show down, I’m telling you. And I for one am grateful.

        • There were 3 in Hawaii, and they are some of the most hilarious shit ever filmed. Vincent Price and his tiki statue Oliver. The Brady boys getting scared by a spider. Robert Reed’s face as he watched hula dancers. Classic. MUCH better than the Grand Canyon arc.

          • Vincent Price! That’s right.

            Hard to believe we grew up on s**t like that. :)

          • You should find the Brady Bunch version on youtube just to read the hilarious comments. Just 1 sample:
            Only they could take an 8.5 minute song, reduce it to 3.5 minutes, and make it seem like it’s eternally longer.

        • My god, the Brady “American Pie” is bad. The singing is really horrible at the start (or did I get used to it in a short minute?).

          Those horn fills! The Beach Boy backing ooohhs! Sooo cheesy.

    • The Lucy Show, too. And My Three Sons. And I think The Doris Day Show also, although her “California” was San Francisco. What I always found bizarre about those moves is that everybody on the show made the move. Yeah, that’s realistic, that all your friends and your boss would all move with you!

      I lived in CA for a long time (1989-2001, then briefly again in 2003). I lived all over the LA basin and the Valley, Orange County, SF, and Bakersfield, not in that order. Inland CA is a completely different animal from coastal CA, I can tell you that much. Inland CA might as well have been Oklahoma, really. But in the 1960s and even later, when people in New York said “California” or “The Coast,” they meant LA. And I can also tell you that people who live in Anaheim or thereabouts do not consider themselves residents of LA! In fact, they shudder if you even imply it.

      I kind of miss it but I don’t, if you know what I mean. I’d like a little more sun up here in the Upper Left, that’s for sure.

      Mad Men in LA is certainly possible, and even believable considering Megan’s career trajectory. But they’d pretty much have to start over again with a new cast except for Don and whoever he decided to form a new agency with, plus Megan. It would be just silly to have the entire cast move out there. Bring on the leather jackets and water skis!

  8. This is a fun thread and, yes I can see MM somehow ending up in CA without it seeming trite or silly. In literature (and in real life) we Americans tend to go west when we want to remake ourselves or fix something so it is entirely appropriate that MW has artfully worked this into MM. A favorite scene in the entire series for me is Don’s “rebirth” in the massive Pacific at the end of S2. Heck, I think everyone in the whole country has a California dream in them somewhere.

    So my question for the west coasters is how much is DDs vision of CA a reality at that time? Would it have worked then and not now or is there still a sense of rebirth in California? Does the magic still work or is it freeways and plastic?

    • California is going through a very bad time right now. I believe we have the second or third highest unemployment rate in the country. California and Nevada, which became kind of an extension of the Californa economy for a while, got pneumonia when most of the rest of the country got a really bad case of the flu. Of course, the Rust Belt states and some parts of the South were already chronically ill by the time the economy collapsed, but California has always been extremely resilient. This time, not so much. We Californians have really tied ourselves in knots with a completely untenable political system – aren’t we the trend setters (unfortunately). This political nightmare really dates back to the 70′s though, post MM.

      A change has gotta come. In our favor, change and re-invention are in the state’s DNA. That’s why California creates so many of America’s trends (for good and for bad). If the state is unable to get its act together, that’s a really bad sign for the rest of the country. It might mean that we as a nation will be unable to find rebirth. With the European economic disaster still hanging over everyone, I don’t want to be too pessimistic, so I hope this dog has its day again in the not too distant future.

      Back to MM, the creative industries of California were doing well in the 60′s although the film business was going through a fundamental transition. Advertising was a very new business here then. Maybe that could mean that there would be opportunities for MM characters to become pioneers. I tend to think they’d probably need to change professions at least somewhat to really make it out here in those days, a la Paul Kinsey’s TV writing fantasy.

      Anne B, you are right that California is less fun these days than it used to be. But, I seem to remember New York going through pretty dark days starting some 40 odd years ago. I used to spend time in NYC on a regular basis in the 80′s and 90′s (especially the 80′s) and I’ve heard that it has changed mainly for the better over the last 20 years, although not being accosted to buy stolen merchandise in Times Square sounds less exciting. I haven’t been there during the last decade and just get media and family reports, so all my recent knowledge is second-hand.

      LA is well into its third century now; there will be bad times as well as good ones. The bad ones build character for a metropolis as they do for people. We are less plastic, I think, which was kind of a space age thing (and stereotype). Maybe the decline of the California aerospace industry had something to do with it. (Personally, my California life has never been plastic.) We have absorbed so many people from so many old old cultures in the past 35 years. My traumatized Cambodian students in Long Beach found new lives here, my Latin-American students have revived whole villages with the money sent back to their home countries, and the last I heard, the NFL is still big in Little Saigon – probably in Koreatown, too (haven’t been there recently). Persians are the rulers of Beverly Hills in the real world, not housewives. Even though Hollywood gets courtside seats, people of every color in SoCal have been under the influence of the Lakers for several decades. The movie business is a hundred years old now. For me, all of this has had an effect. And, it has been great for food lovers. SoCal strip malls are often great restaurant destinations for those of us who eat cheap and ethnic.

      I find Greater LA much richer now than I did in the 60′s, but, the slower pace of that earlier time and the sense of relaxation that came with it allowed Californians to enjoy their day to day lives much more. Public transportation had recently been destroyed in SoCal, so the car was king. You could glide through the night on uncrowded freeways back then. I think DD’s and Pete’s trip to research Big Aerospace was absolutely accurate for that time – eating (and having sex) by the pool in Palm Springs – so 60′s California.

      MM writers are Angelenos from what I understand, at least MW is, so they get it right. The American Dreams of my parents’ generation were more often than not fulfilled here. California was really on the rise in the 60′s.

      Who knows whether MW will use his knowledge of this place to develop MM storylines? Sorry, d davies denver. I’m sure you weren’t asking for a dissertation. I didn’t feel like deleting it after getting overly engrossed in writing.

      • I have heard stories of the early 20th century in LA, when the hillsides were covered with wildflowers. Wish I had seen that.

        The last time I was there, a couple of decades ago, it took an hour to drive 20 or 30 miles on the freeway, even late at night.

        • I remember the orange groves. They were in places like San Bernardino, Riverside County — we didn’t get out there very often when I was little, but when we did it was a big deal. We really knew we were in the sticks when we could smell oranges, not exhaust, through the open windows.

          • They don’t make automobile exhaust like they used to. Couple nights ago my daughter and I were driving home – trailing behind a well maintained sixties car – the exhaust was “rich” to say the least.

            No wonder California enacted and enforced strict emissions controls.

            One can “experience” that old time perfume at car shows – the ones where they have a low and slow parade. The sounds take you back.

      • I loved hearing your thoughts on California, past and present. To me, the cities of Cali and California itself is an endlessly fascinating place.

        • It’s fun to drive it. My husband and I drove from San Francisco to Vegas last weekend, and on Saturday we’ll drive from here to L.A. I tend to forget just how much difference this state contains, until I do that.

          Almost everyone I went to high school with still lives in Southern California. So many of them wanted to be in show business, but the closest they got was tending bar at an “industry” place or working at the Universal Studios theme park. A few of them went out to the desert: Vegas is now a highly concentrated version of everything Hollywood was once supposed to be (for better and for worse). If that’s what you want, Vegas is still where you can find it.

          What I noticed on last week’s drive and will see again this weekend: the battles that become wars in other places still seem to start here. The next big one — over water: who can get it, from where, and how they can use it — keeps getting postponed, but eventually we’ll have to fight it. It won’t be pretty. I see water being a very big deal in the future, and not just here.

          I love to mock California. It’s my home. Mocking it is something I get to do, since I’ll probably never leave. :)

          • Battle over water? FORGET IT JAKE, ITS CHINATOWN.

          • Either you bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water …

          • “Cadillac Desert” by Marc Reisner is the quintessential book and later PBS documentary about water battles in the west. A great entertaining read that is as good or better than the fictional versions. I recommend the 4 part PBS doc as well.

          • The house I grew up in was carved out of one of those orange groves right before we moved in. Also used to love the wild yellow mustard fields that covered some hills and empty lots after the rainy season when I was a kid.

            I have grown to love my home region (obviously) even though I tried to escape it during an earlier period in my life.

            Anne B, I don’t begrudge you the right to mock California. There’s lots to mock, but we have so much to love as well. We have greater diversity in just about every possible way than any other state. I’m geographically-oriented, so I love the land of my state deeply as I love the American West in general. One of my favorite categories for loving California is just the little category of trees all by itself. We have the oldest trees in the world – the oaks east of the Sierra Nevada, the biggest trees (by mass) in the world – the sequoias, and the tallest trees in the world – the redwoods. I would be the first to admit that there are wonderful things all over the country and of course the world, but we Californians do live in an amazing state. I loved my time living in the Bay Area as well. In those days living in ‘The City’, I joined with the rest of the ‘sophisticates’ in disdaining LA and SoCal, but I am over it. Every place has a lot to offer, including Southern California.

            Tilden, thanks for bringing it up. Chinatown is among THE best LA movies ever, along with The Big Lebowski – no one is more LA than the Dude. I’ve walked all over NYC in my time and loved it, from Crown Heights and Alphabet City (is it still called that?) to MOMA and that Revolutionary War era house right by where Paul Robeson once lived in northernmost Harlem, but the world is so full of other wonderful places as well. New Yorkers need to acknowledge that and get over themselves. That has always been the one really annoying thing about visiting NYC.

          • We have the oldest trees in the world – the oaks east of the Sierra Nevada,

            And the Monterey Cypress, which you will only find here, along the coast of California.

            I love my home state as much as I love to mock it. I’ve had plenty of chances to choose somewhere else to live, and I’ve turned them all down. This is home for me.

            In my own way, I am just as insane as our friend tilden up there, the stubborn New Yorker. :)

          • I got the name of the oldest tree variety wrong, according to wikipedia. I remembered them as being a variety of oak, but apparently it’s the Great Basin bristlecone pine, and California and Nevada share them. I should have looked it up. The cypresses in Monterrey are beautiful, too.

          • I’m definitely picking up “Cadillac Desert” and you guys have reminded me to finally see Chinatown..the movie. I know, avert head in shame, I’ve never seen that movie.

            On another note, does anyone just put on Mad Men as background noise frequently? I put it on every Saturday and Sunday morning as I drink my coffee…it’s Tea Leaves this Saturday morning. So, it’s staying more as noise…. rather than an intent viewing experience.

          • Chinatown is THE L.A. film (that’s not an opinion. Smirk :) ). Although the Dude does rule. He’ll always Abide.
            Cali is a state of mind. Its everybody’s go-to spot when your mind needs to chill. The bars close at 2am. WTF? Uncool.
            NoCal is so beautiful, it breaks your heart. SoCal to me is San Diego not Hollywood. Why is half of the female pop in SD 6 foot and blonde? I thought LA was supposed to be filled with the Amazons. Wow.

            Can’t ever ask a NY’er to get over him/herself. Its what makes us who we ARE.
            The house in northernmost Manhattan is the Dyckman House. The residence that is preserved in its 18th century structure, and is now a museum. I grew up 5 blocks from there. Ironically its on Broadway, and not on the eponymous Dyckman street.
            Peter’s relatives who owned all of the island north of 125th street, are all descendants of John Dyckman.
            The $26 transaction that sold Manhattan took place about 6 blocks north of where Dyckman House sits.

          • The Dyckman House? Hilarious. It’s been more than 25 years since I visited that museum; how did I manage to hit that one? Must be the MM vibe on this blog. Thanks for the Dyckman-related info, tilden.

            BTW, Cali may be a state of mind for you, but California (like NYC) is a place. So is SoCal and all of Greater LA is a part of it for the 40 million residents of the state. The northernmost border of SoCal starts around Ventura/Santa Barbara. That’s the start of Central California, for US citizens. The Bay Area is barely Northern California, but we do call it that. California continues down into Baja Mexico historically; it’s a really long region north to south, no balls, though (sorry). Your notions of California sound a lot like mine of Brazil when I first starting talking to Brazilians. Check out a map, maybe.

            Hollywood may also be a state of mind for the rest of the world, but it’s an actual city for Southern Californians, and bears only a passing resemblance to the stereotypes – not that many natural blonds live there, more runaways on the streets and the Russian mob in spots. Hollywood Blvd. has been cleaned up quite a bit recently, which has brought celebrities back to hang.

  9. I just
    LOVE you all . Tears of joy in my eyes !

  10. I think Menken’s will open a western flagship store in Los Angeles.

  11. I just had a really special Man Men experience relating to California. I was looking through old Basket of News emails to check out references and then delete when I happened upon a map of shooting locations for the show. I was curious about Anna’s house since I know Long Beach and San Pedro pretty well. I was shocked and delighted to discover that the scenes of Anna’s actual house were shot directly across the street from the house where a friend of mine lived for decades. I’ve been there many times. WOW! Now I’ve got to call him and find out whether he watches MM and knows about this. I’ll be checking the place out the next time I’m in Pedro. I thought it might be in that neighborhood. Incredible!

  12. “For West is where we all plan to go some day. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying: “Flee, all is discovered.” It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and see the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire. It is where you go when you hear that thar’s gold in them-thar hills. It is where you go to grow up with the country. It is where you go to spend your old age. Or it is just where you go.” All the Kings Men – Chapter 7

    In what certainly is a contender for the “Great American Novel” Jack Burden drives West to Long Beach, CA and admits to “drowning in the West.” As he speeds there he revisits all the key parts of his life and in a way makes some sense of things.

    MW wisely taps into the mystique and rootless power of the West and California in particular.
    SDAgemate, I love your essay and the wonderful memories and insights of everyone on the good, bad and magical of Cali. I discovered the magic of the Bay Area only recently and what can I say? There is just something about it. As for Chinatown, well it’s like the most entertaining history lesson in western water around. (for anyone in the west, Cadillac Desert is a must-read too)

    Thanks Mad Chick and all for this very nice homage to our national, collective symbol of Manifest Destiny.

    • I’ve got to check out Cadillac Desert, although I think I may have seen it or parts of the TV version of it on PBS. I like Kevin Starr for California history. I listened to some of his work on recordings from the library.

    • Oh and BTW, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is another entertaining history lesson about LA although it’s not as close to my heart as Chinatown.

  13. LA Confidential was/is in my opinion even better than Chinatown in portraying Los Angeles culture.

  14. [...] an earlier post, I discussed the fascination that Don and others seem to have for California. The warm sunny [...]

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