Sunday
Jun062004

« If I Had A Million Dollars »

I could almost afford to live in my hometown. But then, sometimes I wonder why I would want to.

There are enough people I know who maybe are from out of town who are surprised that I am not Mister San Diego, even though I was born here. True, I don't go to the beach (this one really confounds people), and I don't like the Padres or Chargers (usually the losingest teams, but I am so far from caring), and I don't even like being in the sun (my studio tan is just fine, thank you). Really, people somehow are way surprised to find I do not live as they almost expect I would. Sometimes San Diego rubs the wrong way. I mean, the place is politically corrupt. The entire place, once a few miles from downtown, is a huge sprawlfest of freeways, boulevards, suburbs, and a million gas stations, strip malls and so forth. America's Finest City, my ass. Granted, we do have some nice things to behold; I like to go to Coronado (a surprisingly quaint place compared to us, and only across the harbor), and I like to soak up the vibe in parts of La Jolla, Mission Bay, Point Loma, and a few other places. But it's a drag to get around in, despite roads going everywhere. I don't know. The place was a desert, and would like to return to a desert, and will once the water stops flowing. There are way too many tourists. I don't say that from having empirical data; it's more of a conclusion reached when realizing there is a lot of entertainment and attractions that are slanted in favor of tourism.

First off, there is next to no actual music scene. We have a lot of musicians—maybe too many—but there is really not a San Diego sound. The only musicians I know who make enough money to live on are playing conventions, dinners, corporate meetings, and benefits, etc. The musicians a step lower than that first class are the ones that play to these same conventioneers in the Gaslamp, playing the well-worn blues, classic rock, soul, disco/funk, island, latin, and pop stuff that has been the staple of dance and bar bands for 25 years or more. Yay. I know there are towns that have thriving original music scenes. San Diego is not one of them. Minneapolis is cold and dark. They have a scene. San Francisco is small and dense. They have a scene. Chicago is another cold place that has a proud musical scene, or many. SD just has a bunch of musicians. Some are great. Mike Keneally of course is one of the finest musical exports from this town in a long time, but no one knows him, and most of his "fame" is from his time in Los Angeles and other places. I know of a dude named Mike Watson who I believe is a more unique guitarist than Keneally, but he will die penniless. No one happens to be too interested in acoustic fretless guitar playing and his self-created ebow-on-fretless portamento chordal style. Watson really is the most unique but generally accessible local musician I know of. I mean, he is good enough to count somewhere, sometime, but alas, he cleans office buildings and lays bricks for a living. In San Fran or New York, he would be sucked into so many gigs, but here, he can't find a band worth a shit to back him up.

And maybe the tourists don't have much to do with this, but the idiots who move 35 miles out of town do. The freeways are hell. And the idiots in charge are too stupid to know or too beholden to developers to admit that the answer is NOT more freeways and suburbs. Fucking idiots. Really. There is a stretch of the I-15 from Miramar to Carmel Mountain or upper Rancho Bernardo where they are trying to add a lane in each direction, cutting the shoulder lanes really thin, wacking away more land, and generally turning wine into water. You see, a decade ago or more, they did this thing with a two lane road in the median that alternated directions by time of day. That idea has already aged out, and even those two lanes for carpooling are crammed a good part of the time. So now that that idea has expired its usefulness, it's time to employ even more idiocy and short sightedness. The problem is not how much road we have. It is how many cars are on that road. No one wants to reduce the cars, or reduce the need for cars, so every few years, it's time for another several million on some concrete and asphalt. It is a temporary solution to an increasingly permanent problem. I believe cars adhere to a rule of physics generally reserved for gaseous states of elements. Gas will expand to fill the space it is allowed. Same goes for cars. Show me one place that has massive road systems that didn't clog up at the same rate with ever more cars made and sold. The whole issue is self-perpetuating; more roads to more suburbs mandate the need for more cars, which makes idiot/fool politicians decide to make more roads, which are the new frontiers of more development. It might help to realize that railroad track costs less to lay and maintain than the same amount of linear mileage of freeway. But no one cares about that. Traveling on mass transit is below the dignity of a lot of people, and is un-American when we have this mindset that car ownership is a right.

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