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California Dreamin': A Rude Awakening

Jamie Stiehm on

Oh, California. I'm crying into my coffee, though I live back East now.

Seldom have we seen the Golden State suffer. It hurts to watch. The free-spirited poets, gold miners and flower children live in lore, but the state has seen better days.

A town named Paradise was lost and burned to the ground in 2018, a grim prelude to the summer's raging wildfires.

The governor recall election on Sept. 14 is the clearest indicator of California's churn, though the discontent is about more than that. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is in danger of being displaced by a right-wing talk radio host, Larry Elder.

What a kiss of death that would be. Elder comes praised by conservative pundit George Will. On the other hand, a Los Angeles Times columnist cast him as a white supremacist -- though he is Black. Only in California.

How far for a falling star on the national stage. Newsom was governing the pandemic pretty well until he was seen at a maskless dinner party at the French Laundry in fancy Napa Valley.

 

Ouch. Even the name sounds like just the wrong note for the restless natives of a state with 40 million residents.

Make that 39.5 million. California just lost population and a congressional seat for the first time ever in the 2020 census.

A Santa Monica girl, I took the breeze, sun and ocean as a common birthright, bicycling miles across the city to school. My tennis friends lived in Malibu, and I breathed in the oceanfront paradise they loved as we drove many miles along the Pacific Coast Highway.

One night on Colony Beach, we stayed up late 'round a fire with a Rolling Stone and Rick Danko of The Band, singing.

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