Went out for some coffee this morning. Had an only in California moment out there. I’m still all impressed with hills, after living so long in the glacial flattened midlands of America I’ve kind of forgotten about changes in elevation. You can never be completely lost in place with hills and mountains. Without mountains for reference you need a sextant to find your way around. Or a GPS.
I had an observation about this lovely little village that is kind of the epitome of the California lifestyle, especially the Silicon Valley version.
Los Gatos is a quaint little town, filled with 100 year old Victorian homes and wonderful shops and restaurants. There’s a fantastic pedestrian friendly downtown, a city square with a farmers market on the weekends, you can walk every where.. it’s the lifecycle I’ve been looking for my whole life. Disney’s Main Street meets reality.
But I have some observations and I’d like to share them with you now.
Los Gatos has changed a bit in 20 years. The bars are mostly gone, except for the Black Watch. At one time, the main drag, Santa Cruz Ave was a cruising hotspot, no more. Combination of serious crack down by the authorities and $4.00 gas I’m guessing. The bikers that used to hang out here, watering hole before navigating over Highway 17 to get to Santa Cruz are more or less gone. That would explain the lack of old fashioned bars where a man could get a highball as opposed to a chardonnay.
Walking around there was something missing, and I figured out what it is, bookstores. Quaint little town with a couple hundred shops and not one book store. 30 years ago there were several. Sad really. Browsing a book store is a such a great pass time. Damn you Amazon for destroying my favorite time suck.
Instead of bookstores, there are two car dealers in town now, across the street from each other, Austin Marin and Lamborghini. I’d never seen a Lambo dealer. Kids wanted to go in, maybe take the 2012 Aventador out for a test drive. Of course I didn’t have the $100K for a deposit. Nate considered spray painting his college kid Visa card black, fine idea. “Kids, if the car costs more than the house, you’re not making a good investment. Let’s go find a Scion dealer.”
Lambo and Austin.. says a lot about Los Gatos right there.
The coffee shop had the ultimate California Paradigm. he’s a 50 something dude. Grey ponytail, Steve Jobs turtleneck and jeans, probably still tearing up over Steve Jobs. He comes down from his gated community to hang out at the shop on and surf on his iPad. Dude was talking at his new iPhone 4S he just got Friday on Job’s Day. Over and over again “Call Home” to which the phone replies “Calling Rome”.. This fellow is reading about the Occupy Wall Street movement and is very sympathetic, He’s pissed too that 1% of the population is controlling 90% of the wealth. He doesn’t realize as he quaffs the $8.00 latte and munches on a $14.00 organic wholewheat scone that’s he just might be part of that 1% these folks are complaining about. For him, it’s next 1%. You know unless you’re Warren Buffet, or Steve Jobs who BTW employed thousands of Chinese folks at wages which would put them in the bottom 1/10 of 1% and whom would be happy to get to the bottom 1% in this country, well unless you are one of those guys, there is always a percent above you to complain about.
I’ll believe your sincerity when payphones make a comeback because we’ve all dumped our dataplans, the annual cost of which, puts you in the top 1% of roughly 1/3 of the world.
We walked through the Farmers Market in Los Gatos. Almost everything there was organic. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s nothing more self serving that organic food. Take the Brussels Sprouts. I like Brussels Sprouts, but they gimmie the winds something awful, but that’s cabbage for you. But, I can rest easy now know that my effluvia is a sustainable, even if it contributes to green house gasses. These sprouts were so organic that even the manure used on them came from cows fed only hand selected organically raised and steel cut rolled oats.
And that fact, justifies the $8.99 per pound price. BTW, regular sprouts, grown in the field right next door, $1.75 a pound. Impact on Mother Earth.. about the same.
While I’ve come to believe that ‘organic’ has become a market label to separate rich liberals from their cash, I do buy into buying local, and there was some of that there too. But really Mr Buy Local Eat Fresher T Shirt dude.. you can’t drink a banana smoothie while you’re pushing this local foods lifestyle. Makes you what they used to call a hypocrite.
I like the idea that I can live in place where you can walk everywhere. The older I get the more a simplified lifestyle appeals to me. Work, shop, eat, play all within walking distance of your house. I hate the suburban lifestyle that I lead today. 15 years in Apple Valley and I hate it worse today than I did when we first moved there. Car trips to big box retailers and chain restaurants, awful.
Visiting a place like this, where there’s hardly a single chainstore I have a thought on the economy. Today only the wealthy can afford the local tax needed to support these little businesses. But that wasn’t always the case. There was a time when the country has packed with small businesses, businesses who sourced their products locally, it created lots of localized small economies. Wal-Mart by and large has destroyed this model. They’ve driven everyone out of business bring the super cheap to rural and suburbanite folks. What starts as super cheap prices backfires into economic disruption as local suppliers go down, domestic suppliers go down and we wind up outsourcing all production, well eventually it comes home to roost.
I love the smell out here. Sage and laurel, yes folks, no need to by bay leaves for cooking, you can just go out and pick them yourselves, the trees are everywhere, their fragrance can be pervasive.
The plants and flowers are spectacular. No fall colors though, most of the trees out here are evergreen, makes it look like a garden all the time.
My Mother In Law lives in a lovely townhome here in Los Gatos. For me, there’s no question that the future looks like a townhouse. I’m not interested in ever having a yard again. My garage needs to hold cars and a fridge. No mower, tools, snowthrower, nothing. I’m learning more about who I am every day, and who I’m not, and who I’m not.. and that would be “handy”.