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

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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.


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© Brian Tiemann