“Well, it’s all right
Riding around in the breeze.
Well, it’s all right
If you live the life you please.”
– “End of the Line” by the Traveling Wilburys
Cecily gave us the recently reissued Traveling Wilburys CD for our trip to
“End of the Line,” the last song on the original 1988 album, is a gentle, reaffirming folk-rocker with verses like: “Don’t have to be ashamed of the car I drive (at the end of the line)/I’m just glad to be here, happy to be alive (at the end of the line)…I’m satisfied.”
But another meaning came to us one day as I was turning right off
Ellen and I realized that
It’s also the end of the line for the oil age. An exploding nebula of asphalt and concrete, of shiny, shameless, superexpensive new cars: Beamers, Audis, Mercedes, Porches, Lexi – you name it. In
It is the end of the line (or the beginning, if you are from
Can’t go no further, or faster; this place is the final destination for American consumer culture. As it was the end of patience, apparently, for Jaguar Woman stuck behind some rube from
I lived for 10 years, from age eight to 18, in a house just back from the sea cliff in Corona del Mar. Our house was one of three brown-shingled bungalows built on the bluff in the first years of the 20th century. Gradually,
E and I drove by the old place on our way through and were re-reminded about end-of-the-line real estate. My parents stretched to buy our house for $30,000 (I think it was) in 1956. Nowadays, someone said, the lot alone is worth more than $5 million. A house down the road sold recently for $20 million. I’m sorry to say the folks sold out in the 1970s before the big dollars swept in.
Our place looked like a shack next to its neighbors. The current owners, who for years parked a Corvette with flat tires in the driveway, have held out for some reason. On one side sits a faux-Italian palace, lot-line to lot-line, back alley to sidewalk, as if yards were for children and Ocean Boulevard were a canal in Venice.
The other side is even grosser. Someone razed dear old Mrs. Burton’s redwood bower (and her eucalyptus trees and her gardens) and replaced them with a wall-to-wall, green-glass fishbowl, 30 feet high and 100 feet across the front so that, presumably, we can all appreciate the quality of the stemware sitting on the grand piano. These things seem to be important at the end of the line.
The one thing that hadn’t changed was the ocean. Dad and I stood in the waves at the beach below the brown house, and although at 83 he decided against body surfing, we let the warm water support us and talked and stared at a timeless blue horizon. It was paradise. It was the reason everyone wants to be here.
E and I timed our SoCal exit for midday so that we’d have the least freeway traffic. Although my mother warned us that something called the “lunch crunch” now had to be dealt with. It was a Friday, and we were doing well riding the 133 to the 5, the 5 to the 55, the 55 to the 91, the 91 to the 15. Traffic was not what a Coloradoan would consider light—the whole swirling mass of steel and glass hurtling along at 70 mph plus – but it wasn’t bad.
North of San Bernardino,
Once we got past the wreck – a mini van with flames shooting out of its hood – we punched up the Traveling Wilburys and “End of the Line.”
“Maybe somewhere down the road a ways (at the end of the line)
You’ll think of me and wonder where I am these days (at the end of the line)
Maybe down the road when somebody plays