I try to always keep a pot of fresh soup in the refrigerator, so I made albondigas yesterday. Albondigas is a Mexican soup. Fairly simple to make: a broth filled with vegetables (carrots, celery, zucchini and potatoes in this instance) accompanied by a battalion of small meatballs (turkey in this case, and somewhat evolved from a Giada de Laurentiis recipe). Humble soup, but a surprisingly satisfying act in it’s creative immediacy, as well as in it’s taste (it did come out well!) and nutrition (I suppose I must also be practical).
I wrote a song a long time ago called Goodbye California and it decided to assert itself when I woke up this morning. Originally, I wrote it as a ballad, but my band back in the Chicago days, the Autumn War, reworked it into a heavier arrangement. We played it once during a set in a biker bar in Aurora (just west of Chicago). We were opening for Poundhound (the solo act of Doug Pinnick, the bassist from King’s X; that guy has the longest arms I’ve ever seen, which is probably one of many reasons why he is one incredible bass player). I would have never ventured into that place on my own. It was the kind of establishment where you would be sure to either A) die of smoke asphyxiation within the first five minutes of entrance, B) be hit over the head with a pool cue by someone clad all in leather, tattoos, excessive facial hair and metal, or C) be sold a large number of stolen guns for a decent price by someone named Gash or Killer or Melvin.
Anyway, we launched into Goodbye California and the place oddly went somewhat quiet. Faces turned toward us. Namely, attention was secured. It was a very satisfying moment. Different from the satisfaction of making a good pot of albondigas, true, but somewhat similar in it’s creative immediacy (I’d like to see the Venn diagram for that intersection).
California itself these days? I love this state. I was born here. I grew up here. I successfully submarined through the school system here and happily evaded most of its attempts to educate me. Our family has been farming here for almost a hundred years. We have roots here, blast it!
California is a beautiful place. It’s almost as if God said, okay, I’m gonna give you everything you need. Forests, mountains, a coastline that never quits, deserts…heck, I’ll even give you Santa Cruz so the hippies can be happy too. Gold, oil, timber, the best farmland in the country, Malibu Canyon for the botoxed masses (they need to be happy like the hippies as well, even though neither mob will never really be happy, bless their confused little souls), and plenty of surf breaks, with or without sharks.
But, you know what? Too many cooks making the soup. Too many bureaucrats and politicians and do-gooding environmentalists and busy-bodies and tofu-for-brains-mayors and city councils. California is ruined these days. Take my word for it. I’m not being dramatic. I’m just being practical. I’m starting to wonder if that old song I wrote isn’t a prophecy as well. We used to be the economic powerhouse of the 50 states, but now we’re at the bottom of the pot in terms of business climate. Highest state income tax. Welfare-afficionados flock here for the free cheese. The reverse-Einsteins in Sacramento delight themselves in busily churning out legislation designed to make businesses whimper and tear their hair out and pay for free cheese and then curl up and die. No wonder jobs are fleeing to Texas and Nevada and other parts. All the smart little meatballs are packing up their spices and rolling east.
The problem is, you can’t dig up farmland and put it in a moving van.
Running a business, whether you’re selling soup or growing lettuce or tending a bookstore, is a creative act as well. But when the reverse-Einsteins (no, actually, they’re not just intellectually-challenged, they’re anti-creatives) do all they can to hamper you, your creativity will either wither or you pull up roots.
Like I said, you can’t dig up farmland. But soup and writing songs and writing books? Portable creativity. Very portable. Hmm.