Ox tale soap
On April 1 I saw this headline in our local rag sheet. As is often the case, it dovetailed perfectly with the post that had been swirling in my head for today. If you only knew Stepford-like Santa Clarita, you would be rolling in the, well, wherever you are and could be rolling around, doubled over, peals of laughter escaping from you like puffs of steam.
I think I mentioned somewhere that since last autumn, our neighborhood joined a nation-wide (worldwide?) social network of homeowners who want to form a bond with their community and share the latest news in various categories. When I signed up, I thought it was probably the friendly and sociable thing to do.
Ever since joining, I have been struck by how this one little venue is a microcosm of humanity writ large, society as a whole, with all its problems. Truly, it could be a tragicomedy if only there were a glib chronicler with an agile tongue and time to monitor the threads that come and go. Everything from leaving the gate open and then asking everyone to look out for one’s family pet, to why is there trash along our manicured curbs, to I won’t pay another dime in fees but want a full time security company patrolling the streets looking out for the terrorists to why did the Houstapo reject my front yard cactus farm, etc., etc.
When Geoffrey and I moved here we had no idea this was what is indelicately referred to as a “white-flight” suburb. I picked it because at the time, you could get a mini-mansion for under $500K. No longer, of course, every community in Coastal California takes a million dollars to start, at 20% down. What really astonishes me is the people who live here who, evidenced by their anti-grammarian posts, can barely form a coherent sentence in even 10th grade English, park a behemoth or two in the short driveways and support a staggering overhead month after month. I guess the old idea that education and money are the ouroboros of adult enterprise has been debunked in modern life.
Anyway, as I have mentioned, we now look to a more catholic place to park some day, one like Oxnard or the Channel Islands, or the next spot (upcoming in future posts) that we rediscovered in our quest for a less controversial way of life. One more in keeping with the broad-minded, worldly, international and objective place I came from, i.e., New York City.
How timely then, that the next pivotal primary should be set in my home town. Three of five candidates are New Yorkers — when was the last time that happened? In the Roosevelt era? What wonders would a NY President bring to this country, I can only dream. Just let’s make sure it is the right NYer, eh?
Yes, I am seeking those famed New York Values. Love ’em. And what are they? Open-mindedness, tolerance of ideas unlike one’s own, minding one’s own business unless someone is in need and then lending that someone a helping hand, working and playing hard, looking really sharp to the best of one’s economic means, thriving on diversity, learning from different people’s points of view and cultural heritage, celebrating the richness of a responsible life lived scientifically, moving forward, running on energy, being grateful for the good fortune of living in the most important city on earth. I could go on and on. What it does not mean is profligacy, wantonness and licentiousness. Only outsiders who have no idea and have never lived in New York, either the state or the city — don’t conflate them, they are very different — could think that is what a knickerbocker cherishes.
Think about it. If you crowd, for example, 15 million people onto a small island cluster, could a sodom-gomorrah environment survive? When you are densely packed into a tiny scrap of land, surrounded by water, you had better find a way to curb your excess or there would have been annihilist extinction long ago.
I can see the charms of remote rural life. It has its points and that is something one can find both in California and New York, in fact, the whole Northeast — something I will be talking about more on June 21 this year as I put up my summer season getaway post.
Oxnard was founded on agriculture. The fact that the farms, flourishing there to this day, stretch virtually to the sea and the deep water harbor of Port Hueneme does not negate the fact that it is both a progressive bastion and a rural/urban one. It is not a planned city like Santa Clarita, it is, however, one of the biggest in California, with an array of natural and cultural riches that enable its citizenry to enjoy the best of both worlds, the agricultural and the cultural, sophisticated without being stuffy, exciting without being exhausting. Just one of the places we have identified where we could go (if we can afford it) and live a life closer to the one we had back East (Geoffrey went to two Ivy League colleges back there, and worked in the City, so he gets it too, despite being a SoCal boy by birth).
I cannot imagine myself joining a social network in Oxnard/Channel Islands/Ventura. My soap operatic neighbors here have just about put the kibosh altogether on my interest in social media. I am hanging on to Flickr, Twitter and Word Press because I have made such good friends with like-minded people on all three. You know I got rid of Facebook and never touch my Tumblr account. I am on Instagram but rarely post there. I will probably gently extract myself from the local media site as well. I just don’t want to discover how extreme and petty my fellow Valencians are, as I did with my HS and family members on FB back a few years ago. It is scary to find out that they are the very people who support the demagogues we decry on cable every night while trying to eat a peaceful meal.
We have disciplined ourselves to two hours of news, DVRd, so we can then turn to our binge-watching. Lately it has been the Showtime series, The Borgias, where I can drink in that delicious body-confection known as François Arnaud, and Geoffrey can appreciate the alabaster delights of Holliday Grainger (although he swears blonds are not his type. Right.). And, as a total aside, I was lasciviously delighted to learn he will head the cast of the upcoming soap, Midnight Texas. Oh. Yeah.
As for the Housewives of Santa Clarita, well, it is not to be. It would have been apt, though, believe it or not, based on what I read every day on our local social gossip confab. Aw, snap! Geoff and I might have thrown our hats in the ring for it. Yeah, like that would happen.
Next up: another place to keep our eye on for the next chapter in our lives here in paradise. Stay tuned.
Images: Chez Bebe assets/Oxnard in Ventura County