“Human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.”- Plato, Symposium.
Saw this thought as I returned through La Jolla and read a book in a coffee shop. It’s very close to some of the ideas I share and have written about previously.
Bay Area: am a few miles North of Santa Cruz, known in part for its popular surfboards. I’ve halted the car on a shoulder on the flanks of a mountain. The flow of traffic escaping from the coastal town and heading (back) to the Bay Area has shown no respite. It is past 10pm and the fog brought on by the cool of night and the humid air has thickened around the car and the road, draping its winding tar and the red taillights in thickets of smoke.
I left LA this morning, after spending the night in the lot of the Staples Center (fell asleep nearby, awoke towards 3:30am, by which time the red neon insignia had been shut off. So I stayed until morning to get a picture.
California’s intolerable traffic hit soon enough, and I stopped to rest the car not long into the journey. Made it to Santa Cruz, through the Diablo Mountains, after 4pm. Drove past many orchards and rows of fruit trees and greenhouses, one winery. Will have to explore these in more detail in the next days.
Santa Cruz was, sadly, disappointing. Its beachfront I should add, which is why I’d guess most people go there in the first place. The chilly, cloudy weather didn’t help. And the water wasn’t warm, as is sometimes the case on overcast days.
But mostly, the bubbling mass of people sharing this patch of blackened sand, soiled by seaweed, plastic bags and beer cans pecked at by the seagulls and cormorants, quickly sickened me. Worse yet were the dedicated fairs and tourist shops nicely set as one block in front of the beach. Though no agoraphobe, let it be said this has never been my idea of a restful vacation or agreeable way to spend my leisure time. And though I may be wrong, it seems that for many people walking through the crowded arcades, parents especially, this may also be a rather stressful experience.
This is not to criticize this particular activity or the way many people choose to spend their holidays and time off work.
I understand that most people have too few of these days, and that coming here is a decision based on many reasons more complex than mere whim or particular desire to be there.
I had rarely seen during my travels here a collection of populations more diverse, and so few Caucasians: mostly Hispanics, Indians (I wondered if this had perhaps anything to do with Silicon Valley nearby?), Asians of all kinds, Hawaiians, Samoans, etc.
The kind of beach where most people bathe with their clothes on. That may – or may not – imply a few things.
The flow of cars has become more intermittent, fluid. I shall now be on my way.
Preppy Santa Clara, or the like.
Silicon Valley! For some reason, as imagination has its own, I had since childhood always associated the mysterious and inspiring name with a landscape seen from an overbearing viewpoint of green and brown plains below, whose surface was covered by square and geometric buildings mounted by giant dish plates – which surely was a conception based on what I must have thought was ‘high-tech’ then.
Of course as is usually the case the Valley is nothing like my imagination had supposed it to be, and offers all the commonality of reality.
Went out last night for the first time in a while, an incredible number of Asians (yellow and brown hued). Met a pretty and very nice girl with whom we agreed to meet today, but she hasn’t answered yet – a pattern no guy is really immune to in the long run, the wiser ones (or statisticians) say it’s just a numbers game…
I drove by the Apple and Google offices this morning, and will be heading to those of Facebook. The buildings offer a standardized grimness and un-standish-ness that reveals little of their inner workings, and how these centers so affect today’s world… Was surprised how quiet and respectful the lots were of Sunday rest, would not have particularly expected that from the tech community.
I must agree though that the general burbs of San Jose and the Stanford area have a peculiar, intangible charm, although I am not typically inclined to like this kind of semi-urban development. But as I sit in a Starbux working, with the locals and students walking in and out, sun cresting through the morning clouds, it feels great.
I just spoke to Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook! Here’s what I mustered, with fake assuredness:
“The Man himself! Hello. Congratulations!”
He looked at me for a brief second, deciding whether I was a stalking psychopath or simply a waste of time. There was a brief flash of fear during this assessment, as his eyes shivered and his shoulders shrugged away almost imperceptibly, his pace nevertheless steady. I’m not sure which of the two prospects frightened him the most, but he decided I only posed the problem of the latter.
He then responded with a heart-unfelt, yet mannerful, “How’s it going?” – we’re talking of the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, Time magazine’s most influential person of the year, not to get into the mind-boggling implications of FB and social networking on our social quilt.
I saw him just about fifteen feet away, walking straight towards me, as I had just finished taking pictures in front of the FB headquarters on the edge of the Stanford campus. He was wearing a pair of blue jeans, a white T-shirt.
By the time I had recognized him, I already knew I hadn’t the Blitzkrieg-wit to capitalize on this chance encounter. Seldom does one get an opportunity to seize the moment: most of us spend our lives dreaming of such occasions, only to fail to recognize them when they arise. Thus it is just as seldom to get the opportunity to seize the moment, realize it, and to fail to do so.
I was frustrated during the ensuing afternoon.
Noteworthy: of the tech companies visited today, only Facebook seemed somewhat active (Sunday).
Some enigmatic – or not – quotes ripped from the walls of Big Brother:
– GRID TO GATES
– MOVE FAST AND BREAK THINGS
And the potentially more ominous:
– EFFICIENCY IS PROFITABILITY
Checked out Stanford’s fine campus: seems like a lovely place to study.
Drove to San Fran, just as I got to the outskirts, the sun sank below a riff of passing clouds, illuminating the walls of neatly planted homes, straightly aligned on the hill flanks. Then the harbor and finally downtown, Nob Hill rising steep ahead. I was instinctively beckoned to ride it to the top, parallel to California (a street), on what seemed like a 45 degree gradient.
Quaint trams with people hanging on the sidesteps, what a relief in today’s sometimes unhealthily cautious world! Walked down the hill, through Chinatown and to the Fisherman’s Wharf. I catch a sight of the famed Alcatraz in the distance. Have caught glimpses of bridge bits, but haven’t yet seen them in their full glory.
San Francisco! I now understand why so many people rave about it, although I’ve only been here for a few minutes. Can hardly emit a sound judgment, but this is where it’s at!
First person I meet in San Francisco:
“Learn how to drive.”
Grumpy old woman who looked like she had spent the better part of the last 20 years drinking beer at a café table.