So, last year I picked up a rider in Venice, Indian-American, worked in finance, newly returned to L.A. after a stint in Miami. He told me something interesting enough to write down:
“I’ve always dug Latino culture. One thing I realized moving to Miami is what I actually dig is Mexican latino culture, not rich South American exiles blowing their ill-gotten gains culture. I lived on the 39th floor, right across from the SLS Hotel and all these high end buildings that are 1/3 full because people are just parking their money there. There’s also only one month a year I can leave the house in the daytime without sweating through my shirt. I’m so glad to be back in L.A. I have no need to rent a Lamborgini for the weekend. Mexicans in America have earned their money the hard way and it shows in how they live. The Mayor of Miami is putting up billboards in San Francisco inviting people to move there because of lower taxes. California is worth the taxes. The climate alone is worth it. Don’t come here people, please don’t come here.”
He was speaking from the top of the economic food chain, ensconced in the ocean cooled Westside, a beneficiary of Latino labor, where California frequently feels worth the taxes. Would he have said the same thing if he lived in the Valley? Perhaps, but he wouldn’t care for the noise.
I thought of him again this week in light of Governor Newsom’s televised pitch to Floridians, on day 857 of his emergency powers, to come here, to the land of “freedom of speech” and abortion maximalism.
A thing of wonder, this campaign ad, considering our Public Square is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Silicon Valley: global engine of censorship, digital surveillance, de-platforming, de-monetization, opposition research, Twitter ratio-ing, brigading, tribal hate with your morning coffee, tattling on your neighbors, algorithmic manipulation of the young and impressionable, the ever leftward ratchet toward perfection, social apps bumping your phone when they know you are weakest.
Our information casino and the technology supporting it is now California’s chief moneymaker and export. Not Hollywood. Not agriculture. Not manufacturing. The farming of the human id, corralled in feedlots of narcissism, packaged and sold to corporations and politicians in equal measure.
Like Hansel and Gretel we entered the gingerbread house, filling our bellies. Now here we are, too frightened for our livelihoods to call the Witch a witch.
Florida is flat as pancake and as sweltering as the Congo. In a reasonable world who makes that trade? But it is governed for the time being by people committed to the freedoms California is determined to discard. The U-Hauls are only rolling in one direction, away from here, and it’s not just the price point.
Tellingly, Newsom mentions nothing about climate, which no politician can claim credit. At a certain point in life, when the mortgage is dealt with, or at least made manageable, Mediterranean weather makes it less desirable to re-boot somewhere else. It’s our indispensable and under-appreciated home court advantage. One window shops on Zillow, agog at what $850K will buy in Cleveland or the Carolinas (though not Idaho anymore), and then goes out for a street taco, squats on a crate admiring the golden light breaking through the foliage at the end of the day and thinks…I can wait another year. The center is holding, for now.
This woman will not likely see a day in jail in Lord Newsom’s California. If you are the woman who owns the truck, to whom do you appeal for freedom from violence?
Twitter and YouTube will shortly censor this video and call it content moderation. The account holder will be warned, then suspended, then banned. Big Tech will pocket the ad revenue anyway, pad its earnings, bump the stock valuation. Executives will cash out, donate generously to Newsom’s presidential campaign and (as a papal indulgence) to criminal justice reform initiatives that insure no one goes to jail. They will fund organizations that pay activists to harangue officials at public meetings, to charge the stage, to show up at their homes in the middle of the night with a bullhorn and drums.
I love Los Angeles. It’s kind of an amazing time to be here. We have set in motion the Hobbesian forces of societal collapse at the same time we are upgrading our kitchens, fabulously. Nothing is too good for The House and no leftist nostrum is too crazy to affirm. Nouveau riche Highland Park, land of the $1.5 million bungalow makeover, set the bar by voting a police and prison abolitionist to the City Council.
As a Gen Xer I can afford to be philosophical. I watch. I note. I enjoy the ordered nature of my yard. I live embedded among Latinos unwilling to vote their interests. For now. And I have no idea how this movie ends.