Sunday, May 27, 2012

California Dreamin

I'm working up my narrative of the "Myth of California." For this young boy in New England in the 1960s, it was hot rods, music,  a magic land, a lighthouse in the distance ...

I'd love to hear your image!

T-Bucket Hot Rod.   See end of this post for attribution

California Dreamin

in New York and San Francisco
rooms filled with smoke
as the beat poets worked their magic
with alcohol fueled inspiration

while in my corner of the world
there was snow in winter
or softball games in the church parking lot
as the light softened on a summer evening

and always the woods
hilly           laced with decaying stone walls
glades of sunshine
pockets of cool cool dark
and in our damp cellar in December
"If every body had an ocean"
floating in from the AM radio.

cars were the way out
my closet filled with Hot Rod Magazine
way before I could drive
pages full of dripping chrome
metalflake paint


                    top down

                              California cars

two long low dragsters
poised at the starting line for Winternationals
mountains in the background
at a place called Pomona
men in shirtsleeves and sun sun sun

around the corner
on a brilliant July day
on the old road past our front yard
comes a bright red Triumph sports car


neighbor's older brother driving


                    dark dark tan

                              back from California

"We'll all be plannin' out a route"
I folded over the Time Magazine
to a picture of a dozen long haired boys and girls
at a stop sign in Santa Barbara
captured with their thumbs out

          and started the car

Photo: T-Bucket hot rod. Photo taken by Morven at the weekly Garden Grove, California car show on Friday April 23, 2004. 07:17, 24 April 2004 . . Morven (71959 bytes) (T-Bucket hot rod) {{GFDL}}

Saturday, May 19, 2012


"Beginning in the 1970s, the precipitous decline of the area's manufacturing base resulted in a loss of the jobs that had allowed skilled union workers to have a middle class life."
          Wikipedia, "South Los Angeles"

In the Los Angeles area, the period of heavy industry which existed in the Northeast for a couple of centuries was compressed into about sixty years, starting in the 1920s and ending somewhere in the 80s. People migrated from all over the country to work in the auto plants, tire plants, aerospace factories and steel mills.

I worked in the Bethlehem Steel plant in Maywood, California from 1973 to 1982, at the tail end of this period. There were blacks from the deep South, whites from Oklahoma, Latinos from all over the Southwest, Native Americans from the reservations of Arizona and New Mexico. A toxic, dangerous, truly vibrant melting pot.


Ford Pico Rivera
GM South Gate
GM Van Nuys
Firestone Tire plant 1928
     the mocking skeleton still visible
     as an Egyptian fort
     off the 5 Freeway

Bethlehem Steel
Slauson Avenue Maywood
Alcoa Aluminum
     rest in peace1994
North American Rockwell
Kaiser Steel Fontana
corrosive dust in the air
and union jobs for everyone