Sunday, June 29, 2008


This, folks, is my first time in California—first time to see the friendly blue brightness of the Pacific, first time seeing the red clutches of roofs pocking the valleys like acne.

I was surprised—and not in a good way—by the horizontality of everything man has put here. I suppose I have gotten used to the East, where steel and glass and concrete rise, rather than flow. I was reminded of the repetition of the word 'horizontal' in The Magic Mountain—there also, humanity is horizontal while nature is vertical. The rest cure of the book's Alps resort is taken lying down, but the orientation is also used as a euphemism for death.

I don't mean to imply a strict analogy here, but I am somewhat knocked on my heels from the difference.

I am on the Stanford campus now and am very sick of palm trees and conifers. And perhaps it is the snobbery of a Midwesterner, but I grow uneasy when the grass looks this shabby.

I went to San Francisco last night to go down to Castro Street and see the crowds. Other than the hills, I'm not sure what is so distinctive about SF; the only thing I really took note of was how spacious everything was—all the diners and pizza shops and bars and garage doors (so may garage doors!) seemed almost to have more space than they knew what to do with. I didn't get to see very much of the city, though, and I would like to go back to explore much more. Still, I miss the concision of space of New York.

I do, however, appreciate the art of In-n-Out Burger. Watching potatoes being slammed into fries by a gigantic chrome lever is certainly the greatest fast food experience of my adult life.


Juliette Tang said...

If one arrives somewhere determined not to like it, they won't.

Andrew Seal said...

Fair point. I'm not saying my distaste was surprising, just notable (to me).