Friday May 16. California Impressions and more.

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 19th, 2014

I have a few impressions to share with you after the 10 day visit in Southern California. What struck me most this time is the gap between the very rich and the poor. I am not the first to observe this but I had not been confronted with it until this visit.

When I arrived from Holland as a 19 year old in 1957 the working people earned a decent wage, strong labor unions took much of the credit. The middle class had no complaints either. But the very rich are now much larger in numbers and so are the poor. And even though the wages of the poor may have kept up with the inflation they feel more disadvantaged in comparing themselves to the more advantaged in a great part by being bombarded by the media with what the rich can afford to spend.

The train ride from Long Beach to los Angeles, right after my arrival, was most depressing. Through Compton, Culver City, Watts. Tiny houses squeezed in rows, surrounded by asphalt and concrete, here and there a tiny lawn with dried out grass, trash, iron barred windows, no trees. Further east of Los Angeles the landscape becomes friendlier with more space, landscaping and trees. Downtown San Diego appears to have been designed by the same architect and built between 1990 and 2010, attractive but it is difficult to imagine what the town might have looked like prior to 1990. The suburbs also look alike and built in the same period. The harbor and coast are very inviting and I look forward to spend some time there on the Sail south.

The public transportation system has very much improved since my arrival and there is much less smog. But the freeways remain for ever clogged and I cannot understand how any body would wilfully punish himself to endure this on a daily basis. But Southern California is surrounded with great scenery in the desert, mountains and coast line. I very much enjoyed the visit to Santa Barbara and the Mohave desert and the San Bernardino mountains.

 

 

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