g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry and political bile.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

InstaPundit
Steven Den Beste
James Lileks
Little Green Footballs
As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
Cold Fury
Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est




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Monday, March 3, 2008
22:15 - Wait. What?

(top)
Yeah, New York. No, I'm not kidding.

There are a variety of reasons, some of which are coherent, some of which are publicly airable, and some of which are neither. But foremost in the rationale center of my brain is the fact that I'm 32 years old and have still never lived anywhere but California. I want to try something different, preferably while I'm still young and unattached enough to be able to make the most of it. Above all I don't want to wake up one day and be fifty and think, "Well, damn, now I guess I'll never know what it could have been like."

There are things that bug me about California, to be sure—and a big part of this move is predicated on the desire to get away from some of the grating, aching, downright maddening qualities of life in such an epicenter of endemic social solipsism and intellectual incest, such an unabashed cliché of all that drives the political beast in me freaking batty, as the Bay Area. I'd like to try living in a place where registering cars is a trifle less of a hassle, where the 9/11 Truther protestors are regularly balanced by counterprotestors on the opposite streetcorner, where the monthly power bill spends the majority of its time closer to two digits than four. I'd like to find out what it's like to live in a place that seems designed for doing business, in a no-nonsense and grown-up sort of way, with all the rough edges exposed and no time spared for elegance or aesthetic appeal—rather than in the theme-park world of Silicon Valley, where you stroll through manicured lawns and glide through smoothly concrete-sheathed freeway underpasses and cruise down glassy boulevards flanked by perfectly regular crepe myrtles in the immaculately formed median landscaping on the way to spotless chain restaurants and manicured Tuscan-esque supermarket bakery sections on highways that sweep their way around the feet of ridiculously pretty mountains that afford you a panoramic view of a hundred miles of land that could have been a National Park if it weren't for the Gold Rush. These things spoil a guy. And they'll instill a certain sense of unhurried, unruffled somnambulism, just at the time of life when one needs all the stimuli that one's creative spirit can absorb.

But I'll also admit that these things about California that I allegedly want to get away from are the things that I simply want to learn to appreciate better. I want to have something to compare them to. Just as driving to Alaska—even in the summer—gave me a sense of what it would be like to live in some remote and rural part of the world where it gets very cold for part of the year and the nearest Apple Store is a long plane trip away, New York will give me to realize just how much I've come to treat as indispensable in the California lifestyle: whether it's skyline drives in the Santa Cruz Mountains, or granite-walled skiing in 10,000-foot mountains, or Round Table Pizza, or not having to invest in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle just to stay on the driveway in the winter, or an abundance of sourdough bread in the neighborhood grocery store. Or, indeed, the people—the very people from whose vacuous political groupthink I need a break, but whose humor and wordplay and sense of fun and general easygoingness lacks an analog in the East Coast lifestyle. I need to be reminded of these things first-hand. Otherwise I'll find myself in precisely the spot I hope like hell to avoid: stuck in California at 50, simmering in an unfocused sensation of ambient unease, knowing I've got it good yet unable to appreciate the good that I've got. Chris McCandless, after all, knew and proclaimed in the scrawls that became his epitaph that "the West is the Best"—but he said that as an Easterner who knew both coasts from experience.

So I've severed no bridges, I'm happy to say—I still have my house in the Valley, replete with deck and hot tub and custom-rejiggered secondary master suite. I still have my job. I still have my friends. And I fully intend to be back someday.

But, to quote the final scene of Gladiator, set against the Hans Zimmer soundtrack piece titled "Now We Are Free": Not yet.


Back to Top

19 comments

1. Chris Cogdon - 01:13 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email )

Straight from Baz Luhrman's "Sunscreen Song":

Everyone should live in New York, but leave before you get too hard.
Everyone should live in Northern California, but leave before you get too soft.

2. ltugo - 07:26 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email )

I joined the Navy 13 years ago partly because of a growing sense of wanderlust. I describe the first two years of my service as my "Forrest Gump years". Remember when Jenny ditches him and he's sitting on the porch wearing his new Nike's when all of a sudden he just starts running? Yeah, it was like that. But I got it out of my system after a while and I suspect you will too, eventually. In the meantime, go for it. See the world.

3. Brian Tiemann - 07:52 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email | web )

Chris, yeah, that's actually what I meant to quote for the title of this post, but I forgot. Blast. :)

4. Chris M - 09:24 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email )

I knew it! The prospect of re-inspecting the Lotus was too awful to contemplate.

So: living in the seven boroughs, or the Hudson Valley, or what?

5. Lynn - 09:48 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email | web )

Don't forget that there's more to America than New York and California. There's a whole country between the coasts.

6. Brian Tiemann - 09:48 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email | web )

Hudson Valley—up in Rockland County. It's pretty nice... wealthy like Westchester, but with a slightly different flavor. It even has some interesting topography, what with the whole Hudson Highlands diagonal sweep giving the area an effective northwestern wall. Not like having one's back up against Mt. Umunhum, but it'll do in a pinch...

7. Chris M - 10:03 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email )

Nice location! The west side of the Hudson is less patrician than the east side--a good thing, in my opinion--and you get those great roads a few miles north around Bear Mountain and West Point.

A few good restaurants north of you--Painter's in Cornwall-on-Hudson is pretty good, and in Cold Spring across the Hudson, Kathryn's Tuscan Grill was quite good when I lived near there.

Of course, you now have all the restaurants in Manhattan to try, too!

8. Chris M - 10:20 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email )

Looks like I spelled one name wrong: it's Cathryn's Tuscan Grill with a C.

I've also heard good things about the CIA.

9. Brian Tiemann - 10:22 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email | web )

I've already become enamored of the Monteverde, on the cliffs across from Bear Mountain; and the 76 House in Tappan is pretty cool for its history if nothing else (and there's plenty else). But right now my sights are set on a pilgrimage to Murray's Cheese...

10. corsair the rational pirate - 10:55 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email | web )

If you ever have a hankering to visit the DC area (now that you are on the East Coast), let me know. I have a patented Mall/Museum tour that I take all the tourists on.

11. Joshua - 11:39 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email | web )

You shouldn't be giving NY some air of mystique and romance. It's a stupid reason to move. And, by the by, it's a pretty liberal place you know!

But of course New York, the east coast and all (I live in New Jersey about 35 minutes from Rockland actually) is not a terrible place to be. And moving just to experience it is fine. Just don't act like it's some place it's not, you know?

12. Brian Tiemann - 12:26 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email | web )

Oh, don't worry, there are other reasons too. It takes a lot to get me to move. As far as I'm concerned, any romance and mystique is a bonus.

Besides, it's not like I'm looking for something better than CA... as I said, I'm just as likely trying to find something to help me appreciate CA more than I had been. :)

13. Dave - 13:55 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email )

I’m sure you remember when I moved (very briefly) to Tampa several years ago. I still recall and appreciate your help in loading furniture into the truck, by the way. It did not take very long at all for desperate homesickness to set in—but the experience did teach me that I’m capable of doing such things as packing up all my belongings almost single-handed, driving a truck towing a car, neither of which I’d ever done, across the United States, and setting up in a new place, all on very little money.

I think I have some understanding of the motivations involved, because at forty-five I’m experiencing some of those regrets. They’re just not geographically based, and to some extent they’re not rational, since living below the poverty line most of one’s adult life pretty much precludes making such choices. On the other hand, being forty-five today is a far cry from being forty-five a century ago or even forty-five years ago, so I may yet be able to do some of the things I want to do, especially if my newfound prosperity continues.

14. Chris M - 14:51 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email )

I must have passed Monteverde numerous times on my way to the Croton-on-Hudson train station. However, by that point I was usually spitting with fury at the SUV driver who had been doing 20 mph in front of me on 202/6 for 3 miles, and I never stopped there.

If you're in the city there is a googleplex of fine restaurants but my favorite--for its food and reasonable prices--is still Sarabeth's on Amsterdam. And don't forget La Maison du Chocolat and the world's best place for choux.



15. Dave - 19:08 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email )

It’s something of a cultural phenomenon when the spelling used by Google is better known than the original googol.

16. Chris M - 20:26 Tue 3/4/2008 ( email )

Dave: yr right, should've been "googolplex". Arrggh.

17. NukemHill - 10:19 Wed 3/5/2008 ( email | web )

Brian. Just remember--parking's a bitch.

Dave. I made the same move from Scott's Valley to Baltimore 13 years ago. 20 foot truck, car in tow, a week to get across the country. We're still here.

My regrets are pretty much only geographic, as my sick father is in Vancouver, WA. I promised my wife (to-be at the time) that we would move out here to take care of her family. I did not know at the time my father had Parkinson's.

Life throws you curveballs. Good thing we get multiple at-bats.

18. Dave - 12:19 Wed 3/5/2008 ( email )

Chris: Heh heh. :-)

Nuke: It’s a small world; I lived near Scotts Valley for a year recently, and about fifteen years ago had a girlfriend who lived in town. Still miss her; she was the best thing that ever happened to me, but I was young and stupid and blew it.

Best of luck to your father, and I hope you’re able at least to visit when you can!

19. Michael R. - 23:54 Tue 3/11/2008

hmm... on the googolplex note, I really laughed my head off when I found out they call the google building the Googleplex. It's just so perfect, isn't it?

Seriously, though. I think I can understand your reasons, also. Like you, I've always called California home. I was raised in the Tahoe area, and those pictures you posted not long ago really made me miss the place. My parents took me all over the west coast on trips for as long as I can remember, and I really think California will always be my home... there's just a certain charm to the hills and valleys.... the coast.... the sierra nevadas.... that I don't think I could ever leave forever.

I lived in New Mexico not long ago, and I was pretty surprised at how beautiful and diverse the environments are there. Too bad that Californians seem to have a bad reputation there for being inept tourists who only like wine and pot (I told them it wasn't really like that, but that was before I lived in Mendocino County...). Damned them for discovering the truth! It would be more fun if people still think we all carry surfboards and say "Whoah.... dude!" a lot...

I think a change of scenery is great and healthy; I won't presume to know your reasons, but I know you'll have fun. When I save up some money, I'm planning to visit a different East though.... I really want to look around Asia at some point, Japan or Taiwan in particular. Still not sure about the feasibility of living there though....housing in both places isn't the most affordable. :)
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