America’s Wild Child Is Dying: The End of California Dreamin’

California was America’s wild child,
dreamin’ a different dream, not
just the one about the brass ring.
That child is dying, its crown jewel
city neglected and abandoned ((About the state of San Francisco today see “San Francisco for Sale by New Owners,” Peter Coyote in “The End of Golden Gate and “San Francisco is Forever Dying,” Michelle Robertson, SFGATE, July 5, 2021.)),
owned by high tech bandits, do
not visit with flowers in your hair
but a gas mask over your face.
Other parts of the state are
burning, we have not reckoned
what America is losing when
the spirit of our wild child’s gone.
California was America’s “live
and let live” zone, its state of
“as well as,” not “either or.”
California did not cotton to
tight-lipped bureaucrats or
inflamed ideologues, it
preferred “Governor Moon-
beam” and “Governor Bedtime
for Bonzo,” it listened to rebels,
outsiders, oddballs and dissidents,
it did not sniff at them as
“class-A ecccentrics”  ((As Jesse McKinley did in “How Jerry Brown became ‘Governor Moonbeam”, The New York Times, March 6, 2010.)) when
they made California first in
the economy and environment
awareness. It was proud of
them when they gave us the Free
Speech movement and an
exuberant, questing spirit at
Berkeley, and Nobel Prizes
as well.
California dreamed of being
both “Homo sapiens'(Man
the wise) and “Homo ludens”
(Man the player) with its child-
like awe for things beautiful and
kind, loving and compassionate,
its desire to live life, not manage it,
and so often went against the
grain of our Frontier mindset and
Puritan heritage. It was the dream
of the rebellious wild child, out
of step with buttoned up
and buttoned down mainstream
values and expectations. It
enriched America, in ways serious
and silly, and we need what California
contributed to the rest of us.

George Salamon lives in St.Louis,MO, a shrinking city dreaming of a return to the good old days. Read other articles by George.