LET THEM DRINK PERRIER: I’m sitting here wondering what to make of these two New York Times headlines: “The End of California?” and “Escape from New York.”
The first laments that our state just might dry up and blow away, while the second proclaims that young Gothamites are fleeing to the creative arms of this same California.
Whether these lionized “young creatives,” as the Times calls them, will find artistic freedom, fame, and fortune 3,000 miles west of the muggers, slackers, and blizzards remains to be seen.
But ready or not, drought or not, they’re coming, according to the Times. “It’s okay, because they only drink Perrier and take group showers at their health club,” a friend points out.
It’s all a bit amusing to Santa Barbarans I know to find that New Yorkers, who long have sniffed snobbishly at vulgar California, are being lured to the sun-kissed culture where you actually need a car but it’s okay to turn right on the red.
Okay, New York, send us your arty coffeehouse wannabes, but how about throwing in a few witty Dorothy Parkers and Oscar Levants?
But as Timothy Egan points out in his May 3 “End of California” piece, an expatriate New Yorker could find himself or herself accused of H2O war crimes for innocently violating a mounting list of water rules. A green lawn or “conspicuously clean” car can draw your neighbor’s glare from behind the curtains. And for “young creatives” dreaming of writing a film script by the swimming pool, drink in hand, the good news is that the City of Santa Barbara just refused to ban new pools. After all, things aren’t that bad.
As for the drought, we’ll get through it, even if we have to dam Yosemite to keep our lawns green and plant more almond trees (it takes a gallon to grow a single nut, according to Egan).
Growing alfalfa, which consumes about 20 percent of California’s irrigation water, and then exporting it and other thirsty crops overseas, essentially means that the state is “shipping its precious water to China,” Egan pointed out.
Tell it to Jerry Brown.
SCOOP FROM HELL: Sixty-nine years ago, Associated Press correspondent Edward Kennedy had the scoop of the war: Germany had surrendered. But his exclusive got him fired and ruined his career.
Val Lauder, writing for CNN, tells the story:
Kennedy was one of 16 correspondents invited to witness the surrender. They were told that there was an official embargo to hold the story until the Allied PR people released it. (According to Wikipedia, General Eisenhower wanted it held 36 hours so Stalin could announce it at a ceremony in Berlin.)
But Kennedy went ahead and beat the world with the story when he broke the news on May 7, 1945. Then all hell broke loose.
His fellow correspondents screamed, the infuriated military banned the AP from filing stories, and Kennedy got fired, his reputation in tatters. He called it the “scoop from hell” but claimed that he’d never promised to obey the embargo order and said, “I’d do it again.”
He then got a job as managing editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press, of all places. It was then a very small paper owned by the legendary T.M. Storke. It was quite a comedown for a top foreign correspondent. No doubt T.M. pulled some strings. Kennedy went on to become editor of the Monterey Herald in 1949.
The AP later apologized. Kennedy died in 1963 at 58 after being hit by a car. There was pressure to award him a posthumous Pulitzer, but he never got it. Sic transit gloria mundi.
INDIANS TO PROTEST: Chumash and members of other California Indian tribes plan a Santa Barbara Mission protest May 30-31 over the upcoming sainthood of Father Junípero Serra.
On Saturday, May 30, an array of organizations opposing canonization because of Fr. Serra’s abuses will gather for panel discussions and to honor their ancestors, according to Elias Castillo, author of the recent book A Cross of Thorns, highly critical of Serra’s treatment of the Indians.
On Sunday, May 31, there’ll be a ceremony outside the Mission at 1 p.m. opposing the Pope’s plans to canonize Serra in September during the Pope’s first U.S. visit, Castillo said.