The recent and ongoing fires in
When I was a kid, we used to devote part of each Thanksgiving weekend to clearing brush and needles from around the 70-year-old
When the current cycle began my mother was in
The national media has Alzheimer’s when it comes to wildfire and
The consequences are worse now because of what SoCal has become: 25 million (and counting) people who long ago jammed the coast and are now overflowing onto every available chaparral hillside. It used to be the hills would burn and nothing much of value was threatened. Everything’s different about
This was made clear to me at my 40th high school reunion this summer. I had not been to a reunion before. My friends and I had scattered and mostly lost touch. But I figured I’d better attend one while we were still ambulatory.
Funny, the people looked just the same, if a little grayer. There was Marshal Savage, the class athlete, with his little smirk and his soft loafers. Of course he won the golf tournament the day before. And Dan Orr, who organized the event, still hale and hearty in his loud Hawaiian shirt slapping shoulders.
We were about 80 (out of a class of 400) stuffed into a generic meeting room downstairs at the Newport Beach Yacht Club. The room did open out onto a bayside deck where, in the afternoon light sailboats bobbed on their moorings and the houses of
It was at once a familiar scene and an unimaginably inflated one. As a boy I rode my bike across the island bridge to visit friends. Their houses were tiny 1930s bungalows with sand in their front yards and seashells for window decoration. Gulls camped on working
Now the boats stuffing private bayside docks are uniformly scrubbed white fiberglass. The boats are like the Italianate houses steadily replacing the modest bungalows; they’re built taller now Đ so valuable is waterfront footage Đ lot line to lot line, as if yard space, or deck space (forget the elegant lines) were too great a luxury.
This was not just a case of childhood nostalgia. The demographics and the aesthetics have changed. Eccentrics and fisherman have been dislodged by Wall Street moguls and NBA stars. Maids drive BMWs. Most of my classmates, it seemed, were realtors or lawyers, or real-estate lawyers. And most of them couldn’t afford to live in
As kids, we loved the
Now CNN and the rest would have us believe these are ill winds. They’re not. In some ways