August 8, 2010

Our Huddled Masses


Sociologists tell us the human animal needs its space.

Even if we have no cat, we need the room to swing one.

We may be communal by nature, but we've got to have our breathing room. We can take our fellow humans in close quarters, but only so close.

So how close is too close? What is 'cheek by jowl' and what is just cheeky? That seems to vary from culture to culture and from place to place. What's comfy in Kowloon, is in your face in Fargo.

California is one of those places where we seem to bunch up with our fellow humans. We tend to tolerate each other's jowls here. There's only so much sunshine and everyone wants to be in it.

You see this bunching up in almost everything Californians do.

We live in boxes, little boxes, and they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same:

We work in cubes, little cubes, and THEY all look the same:

We drive from those boxes to those cubes, lined up like lemmings in lots of loathsome lanes:

Even when we go to the beach, we do it all bunched up:

And we park our boats that way, too:

So, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, while walking across my favorite bridge over the American River last weekend, to look down into those serene waters and see this:

which was part of this:

which was only a small part of all of this:

Just a bunch of my fellow Californians getting away from it all for a nice, quiet weekend on the water.

Away from those crowded cul-de-sacs. Away from those crowded cubicles. Away from those crowded freeways.

But doing it in the way they've grown accustomed to.

 All bunched up.



  1. That's funny, last weekend we drove up to Tahoe along the Truckee River and saw a similar scene of people drifting down the river.

  2. Betcha don't see those crowds in the river in a few months. Or how crowded might Tomales Bay be on a Tuesday in October?

  3. I think I'm glad I'm in New Mexico.

  4. I think this is a new trend.

    We've lived here for over 20 years and this is the time of year when you can almost walk across the river on the rafts some weekends. But the rafted-up islands seem to be new. They're like floating subdivisions.

    Notice that this one has a cooler raft, a spare parts raft, and some have been assigned paddling jobs, while others don't need to bother with that.

    There's also an island wiener dog wandering around.

    Extra points if you can spot the wiener dog.

  5. Senor (I don't know how to get the squigly thing over the o like Doc H. does): That is definitely not a wiener dog! The dog on that raft was in all of the Taco Bell commercials. Mein ist a bit more Deutsch. But I'm happy that you spelled wiener correctly.

  6. Sorry Baydog, I wasn't close enough to hear what language the dog was speaking.

    My apologies to Hazel.

  7. I won't complain living in a lonesome rural village any more!

  8. Frankie, I'm guessing that, about now, the roads heading south out of Paris probably look something like this.

  9. Absolutely right! The motor way a few km away from my place is bumper to bumper of cars driving south... but my lonesome rural village is out of the huddled masses.

  10. You don't want to witness Obon time in Japan - why everyone must go on vacation at once is a still mystery to me, even though I am well acquainted with the Buddhist traditions behind this holiday. Think of all the wasted infrastructure that is designed for the peak holiday loads. If holidays were spread out over the year, huge sums could be saved - and a slower, happier life might be available.