Salvo 11.24.2020 10 minutes

California, There It Goes


The collapse of the last frontier—and how to save it.

I’m only a first-generation native, but this ludicrous place feels like my ancestral homeland. My home as a baby was just a few blocks from Santa Monica State Beach in Los Angeles. As the years passed, I moved progressively further east, away from the glorious Pacific Ocean of my childhood. At one point I lived as far away as France, but gradually wandered home, washed inexorably back.

Before I was born, my east coast parents moved here so my dad could surf on the weekends. I never surfed, but my friends and I became proficient boogie boarders. I met my first boyfriend and encountered my first shark on Santa Monica beach. Maybe on the same day, I can’t remember. The shark, an eight-foot blue, nearly bumped me off my board and was unceremoniously dragged onto the sand by enthusiastic locals (the leviathan was saved by the Coast Guard, relax).

Boogie boarding all day is hard work, so we’d usually have lunch—or just pie—at Patrick’s Roadhouse, a legendary diner in Santa Monica Canyon. In the back was an ornate wooden table reserved exclusively for Arnold Schwarzenegger, who frequented the place (never when we were there). The owner, a white-haired old character named Bill, would greet us by name and crack jokes with us. Once we found out after we’d eaten that we’d forgotten to bring money, or wallets of any kind. He let us write him an IOU. 

Patrick’s Roadhouse is still there, but Santa Monica, like the rest of the city, is a shell. As I wrote a few months ago120 stores were smashed and looted in the business district during the May/June Floyd riots. To this day, it’s a ghost town with plywood on nearly every window.

You know what else is everywhere? Homeless people. Not just glassy-eyed gutter punks lounging in decrepit tents. I mean ranting, fully naked zombies defecating and peeing on every corner. It’s been called Skid Row by the Sea for years, but today Skid Marks by the Sea is more accurate. 

It looks like someone opened the prison in Aliens 3 and let the inmates out at Wilshire and Ocean Avenue.

(Side note: the median price of a home in Santa Monica is $3,750,000, making it the third most expensive ZIP code in America.) 

And as of this week, thanks to the new L.A. County dining restrictions, you can’t eat any pie on Patrick’s outdoor patio. 

Even if you’re Arnold.

Rats Off a Stinking Ship

Another wonderful family we know is leaving for good this week. Except the U-Haul they reserved months ago is suddenly unavailable. They were told there is not a single U-Haul in California right now, but they are welcome to fly to Dallas to pick one up. So they can drive it to Los Angeles, pack it, and drive it to Nashville. No prob!

The PODS and the moving trucks are all sold out, too.

Current tally of families I know who either have left, or are about to leave southern California: six. And I don’t know that many people.

Today at the hair salon, my non-political stylist told me that at least 10 of her clients recently told her they’re moving to places like Texas and Idaho. This is at a tiny salon with one chair! One of her clients said they’re leaving with the entire extended family, and they plan to get houses in the same neighborhood. My hairstylist just bought her first house here last year but said, “if they shut me down again, I’m out of here.”

How selfish! Who’s going to keep Peachy looking peachy if she flees? 

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now

“Just move already!” happy red-state residents shout at me on Twitter when I complain. “How can you even live in Commifornia? You nuts? Better bury your guns!”

Haha. Did I just type that? Gun, what guns? We don’t own any legally purchased firearms, I hate guns, they kill people, I’d never own any, no need to knock on my door looking for any.

But my haters do have a point. We are less free here. A lot less. Yes, it’s a police state. Yes, the sheriffs busted my son’s school dance which had a few too many kids hanging out. Yes, I am a political dissident forced to write my little screeds in the closet with the lights off on a typewriter I keep hidden under the baseboards, typing while the shower is running so no one can hear. 

Which also makes me a water waster, which carries a life sentence in solitary while they pipe Barbra Streisand songs into your cell.

My mostly peaceful neighborhood these days is riddled with the cursed “In this House We Believe in Science” and “Refugees Welcome” signs. Everyone is welcome here!

Everyone but me, that is.

After the first riots this summer, I spent hours looking at Zillow porn, making my fantasy list of houses to move to in the Free States like Idaho, Texas, Tennessee, Montana, and Florida. Somewhere red, somewhere cheaper, somewhere with decent schools and maybe some friends already settled. Someplace not too cold (sorry Bozeman!) or too hot and muggy (sorry Sarasota!). 

Actually, they all seem lovely. In fact, I’d move to any of those places if our Governor and Chief Hair Gel Enthusiast Gavin Newsom (and his “first partner,” which is what he calls his wife) come for me, gold-plated pitchforks in hand. 

Except right now, I just can’t do it. 

So I decided: we’re staying.

The Last Frontier

What will California look like once the people who can’t take it anymore bail? Will this natural geographic selection leave behind a hardier, more stubborn subspecies of state resident? Or maybe the clever ones are getting out while they can, while the stragglers they leave behind are the ones too dumb to figure out how to pack a suitcase without government assistance.

I just rewatched The Sound of Music with some of the kids. That scene near the end when the nuns tell the Captain the Nazis just sealed the borders so they’ll have to cross the Alps on foot—it’s a good reminder not to ever, ever wait too long to escape your totalitarian overlords.

Sigh. I just finished unpacking this place, and now I’m supposed to do it again? But my recent insight was this: you can run, my friends, but you can’t hide. Texas is not 1939 Switzerland. California is coming for you all eventually—no matter to what secret redoubt you have crept away. Our worst-ever senator—imagine that—is about to (sorry) impose herself on all 50 states. And if we continue to allow mass mail-in ballots (and we will), The Worst Senator Ever will crush Nikki Haley in 2024, winning 40 states to Haley’s 10 (all 10 of the states on my list). 

Newsom, fresh off his $10,000 indoor, maskless, zero distanced dinner at one of the fanciest restaurants in the state, just dropped some super fun new Thanksgiving rules on his peasants. Here they are:

  • All gatherings must be held outside.
  • Gatherings that include more than 3 households are prohibited.
  • As much as possible, any food or beverages at outdoor gatherings must be in single-serve disposable containers. If providing single-serve containers is not possible, food and beverages must be served by a person who washes or sanitizes their hands frequently, and wears a face covering.
  • Attendees may go inside to use restrooms as long as the restrooms are frequently sanitized.
  • Gatherings should be two hours or less.
  • The host should collect names of all attendees and contact information in case contact tracing is needed later.

Hey Gavin: Pluck you, man! It’s time to stop the virulent Covidfornia virus before it infects every other place it touches. As the saying goes, if you don’t fight them over there, you have to fight them over here.

Therefore: we stay. We stick it out while they burn it down. After all, you’ve got to hit rock bottom before you can recover. 

Lucky for me, we may be hitting rock sooner than I thought, thanks to Newsom, Mayor Garcetti, and L.A.’s newly elected district attorney, George Gascón. 

George Gascón is a proud supporter of both BLM and Antifa. He is a far-left progressive and one of many District Attorneys who has enjoyed the generous patronage of George Soros. He thinks looting is reparations. His policies are a complete enshrinement of BLM demands: defund police, stop arresting criminals, and close down the jails, because they’re racist. The only people he plans to target for arrest are cops, of course, and innocent people guilty of things like home self-defense, white privilege, and insufficient public wokeness.

In other words, George Gascón is the disease—and the cure. Once he takes a wrecking ball to public safety, Lord help us all. The popsicle sticks and chewing gum holding this place together won’t stand a chance. 

It is about to get real ugly, real fast. But at last, perhaps, people who have silently grumbled for years and years about tent cities and filth and robberies and junkies shooting up on the formerly beautiful beaches will have finally had enough.

Enough! they will shout as they emerge from the smoking wreckage, searching in vain for the keys to the Range Rover. ENOUGH! they will scream, Botox-paralyzed facial muscles snapping under the strain. And then maybe they will wash their hands of utter fools like Eric Garcetti and Gavin Newsom and George Gascón and the pea-brained, nitwit troglodytes on the L.A. City Council and the County Board of Supervisors. (No really, their brains are so small that Stegosauruses look at x-rays of their skulls when they need a few laughs.)

We will finally usher in a new glorious era. Why not? After all, conservatives used to run this whole darn state! After the L.A. riots, we even got a Republican mayor. (A loser, yes, but nobody’s perfect.) California conservatives practically invented fun, glamorous conservatism, which is way more appealing than the neutered, kneecapped, utterly threadbare east-coast conservatism rattling on about “muh norms!” to empty rooms

There is still vitalism here. Humor. Even a bit of culture. We drive convertibles unironically. The Claremont Institute is here, for Pete’s sake, and so are some of the best and brightest voices on the Right (present company excluded, since that would be boasting).

Good ideas still emerge here, the sunsets are the best, and you can still surf or boogie board to your heart’s content.

Pro tip: Try to run to the water. The discarded fentanyl-laced needles in the sand can’t poke you if you’re going fast.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

Suggested reading from the editors

to the newsletter