Posted by: martinworster | December 28, 2013

California Dreaming

‘Stepped into a church I passed along the way well, I got down on my knees and I pretended to pray’

Mamas & The Pappas ‘California Dreaming’

Of course, personally I didn’t step into a church.. and I didn’t pretend to pray…

As I cycle down the broadwalk on Newport Beach I almost feel like I am in a dream. Attractive girls in bikinis cycle past on beach cruisers. More attractive girls play volleyball on the golden sand. Even more attractive girls whizz past on roller blades. Yes – there is an endless supply of lovely females. The Beach Boys were right when they talked about Californian girls and they echo what my friend said to me in the gym that ‘even the 6s are 8s here‘. Politically incorrect and sexist I know – but true.

I just got waylaid thinking and hence talking about girls when what I really wanted to do was convey the dream like quality of Southern California. I was in a dream whilst trying to communicate a dream. I continue cycling down the broadwalk and look at the deep blue waters of the Pacific and see a pro surfer pull into a barrel on a 5 foot wave. Then I remember I am close to the official Surf City USA – which is just north of here in Huntington Beach. It’s actually the legal Surf City as Huntington Beach won a lawsuit against Santa Cruz in NorCal who also thought they were Surf City. Not anymore buddies – not anymore.

Ahead of me a lady – she must be in her early 70s – jogs along with the body of a 35 year old. I am in a place where appearance is everything – to quite an ugly level of superficiality at times although nice when there’s such an endless parade of Venus like beauty everywhere. Hence, the locals worship at the temple of youth and try to stay fit and healthy longer. I guess it’s something about the perfect weather, quality beaches and endless Ocean that promotes outdoor living that people just don’t want to ever give it up. And die.

Years ago, barely a teenager and as a obsessive BMX rider I used to pour over American magazines that all came from California where the sport originated. I used to look at the riders doing their tricks against a backdrop of blue skies and palm fringed landscapes. Place names – Del Mar, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Venice – used to sound exotic and otherworldly. Everything over there looked bigger and better, and the people with their white teeth and glowing tans, somehow healthier. Now I’m here and practically one of them. Okay, I need to get some teeth whitening done, but I’m almost there. It’s strange to think of looking at those magazines with a kind of aspirational longing all those years ago and now finding myself cruising down the same boulevards. In many ways Southern California is the perfect fit for me.

In many other ways it isn’t. But this is meant to be a positive piece so I’ll stick to focusing on the sunny side. It’s a California thing. In many ways that’s what it all boils down to – weather. Always sunny, always blue skies, always that amazing light that brings everything into focus with an incredibly large depth of field. Hence the reason why Hollywood and the film industry is located here (until it started to move to other sunnier and cheaper climes for economic reasons). Or reasons why artists like David Hockney chose to call it home, drawn by the light and sun. ‘She shimmers just like a California sunset’ sang Jamairoquai’s Jay Kay – he also wasn’t wrong. Electric sunsets, high voltage skies, magnetic purples and liquid oranges dripping into tangerine dreams. (Yes I know I stole that last string of words from Krautrock).

So people – mainly those lucky enough to live on the holy grail one mile coastal strip that hugs the Ocean – are healthy here as they want to live longer to enjoy it all for more time. They eat healthy – gluten free, organic, vegan, sprouting, non processed, raw, wheat free, non-fat, only good sugars, low carbs. To live longer. They drink healthy juices and smoothies – acai, ginger, wheatgrass, cayenne, beet, garlic, chia seeds, flax, kale, lemon zest, echinacea – anything to give them (us?) more energy – and to live longer. They do cross-fit, Bikram yoga, spinning classes, mountain biking, stand up paddle boarding, roller blading, running, surfing, weights and lunges, to look better and enjoy things more – and to live longer.  They certainly don’t smoke any more as California is the original ground zero of the anti-smoking brigade. To live much longer.

You’re not allowed to get old here. Any signs of aging can be easily dealt with using a scalpel and anesthetic. Bottox. Chin and tummy tucks. Penis and breast enlargements. Wrinkle zapping. Teeth whitening. Don’t like how you look and the exercise isn’t getting the results you want? No problem. Nip and tuck. Seventy year old ladies with frozen faces stiff with bottox, as if they’d ran at high speed into a sheet of cling film for that pumped up lips and frozen grin to become permanent. A porn-ready body at 50, you betcha…

That’s what these crazy coastal Southern Californian’s want to do – live the dream. To live longer and suspend reality in an non-reality bubble where aging is defied and it’s all about appearance, leisure and adrenaline. I’m still cycling down the Broadwalk and I’ve almost reached the pier. I’m trying to get super fit to lose weight and hence live longer. Shame that I’m puffing and sweat is coming off me in buckets. The sun is just dipping down low. As I cycle back it’ll soon be setting in the West dipping below the Pacific and bending into colours that you couldn’t dream of.

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