Monday, February 14, 2005

And take your stinky cigars, your Hummers, and your cilantro with you!

I must say Brian is right on the money with his Californians in New Mexico rant.

Now, for those who have spent little time around the nouveau riche Californian expats who have come to crowd our once-gentle state, they are not the usual breed of what you probably think of when you mention 'Californian.'

They are entirely different from the mother-earth, crystal-hippie type of Californian who migrated to New Mexico decades ago. These people have all either moved to Taos to run moderately successful Bed-and-Breakfasts while sculpting nude goddess figures or some such enlightened, harmless, pricey art on the side, or have settled down in Albuquerque or Santa Fe to raise a generation of children who get really good grades in history and English but are really bad at math because they smoke too much weed. (Wow, that's like everyone I went to high school with!)

No, the new, irritating Californians are the type who talk too loud on cell phones in restaurants. They get mad when customer service people call them 'sir' or 'Mr. Johnson,' and say, "my father is Mr. Johnson!" They think that yelling and humiliating waiters or checkout girls/guys will actually get them respect and better service. They have big, shiny, gas-guzzling SUVs with nary a splatter of dirt on them that might signify they are actually used as utility vehicles. They find cigarettes disgusting but huge stinky cigars manly and cool.

They demand immaculate green golf courses in the middle of the desert. In a city with a dwindling water supply, no less!

These people will actually say with some sense of achievement that they "had a breakfast burrito this morning, with green chile on it and everything!" Well, bully for you. So did everybody else! And no, the Frontier restaurant is not 'quaint' or 'charming,' it is disgusting. In my younger days I pulled a stint there on the graveyard shift, and believe me, once you've tried in vain to wash the sickly sweet stench of cinnamon buns out of your hair, you can never even look at them again.

The new, rich Californians will beam with pride at having gotten up at the crack of dawn to freeze their asses off while oggling cheesy, giant floating spheroids of gaudiness at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, then pay too much for a stupid T-Shirt or pin with that giant cow balloon on it.

These people are irritating. They are the new yuppies. They're bad drivers. They slap each other on the ass after making tasteless jokes. They're just like the brute they elected governor.

As Brian mentioned, though, Albuquerque still manages to hold on to some of its essential curiousness despite the onslaught. (See Pika Brittlebush for instance. She has a knack for capturing parts of the city that are not faux-adobe stripmalls.) We did not lose Burt's Tiki Lounge to Banana Joe's We have not lost the Double Rainbow (or, as it has actually been called for years now, the Flying Star, but you'll never hear a real local let that escape their lips) to Starbucks. Despite the fantastically overpriced Whole Foods Market, La Montanita Co-op thrives.

And although the fabulous Highland movie theater is now the home of bad Broadway musicals starring the local weatherman, and the Lobo theater (the location of many, many, many debaucherous moments at midnight screenings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show) is now a church of all things, and the drive-in theater got bulldozed in favor of a 24-screened monstrosity built in a style that's half fakey-crap Deco, half fakey-crap Southwest, the plucky little Guild theater still hangs in there.

So all is not lost. I do beg the Californians, though, to leave us to wallow in our poverty-stricken charm and pick on Arizona instead!

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