March 16, 2009 – They say California is “special.” Maybe it’s true.
By The Cerebral Aesthetic Vagabond
Well, I’ve been back in southern California for a week now, and it’s nice. The surprising thing is that I don’t really miss my nice house or all my fine antiques, all of which will be auctioned off soon. I’m quite content living in a small bedroom with few possessions at my disposal. I do miss the serenity of rural Kentucky, and especially my neighbor’s little dog, Boo Boo. I wonder if she realizes I’m gone. I got the impression from her heightened curiosity during my move preparations – perhaps it was just wishful thinking – that she sensed something was up.
What is also surprising is the surreal nature of life here. It’s as if people have utterly no clue about the gravity of the financial collapse or the impending, yet to be felt crisis of peak oil. I talked to a teller in a bank today – Washington Mutual, as a matter of fact, which was recently subsumed into JP Morgan – who was out house shopping with his wife over the past weekend. He said that now was a good time to buy a house, especially since sales were rising. All I could think was that house prices are likely headed down in the future, and even cautioned him that house prices may go down, but he seemed unfazed by my warning.
For much of today I felt as if I was swimming about in a parallel universe in which nothing had substantively changed. Expensive cars whizzed by me right and left, chichi art galleries with open doors abounded, construction activity generated an intolerable cacophony, restaurants hummed with hurried customers willing to a pay high price for a lunch. Even the tiny Washington Mutual branch I had expected to be closed as a casualty of that company’s recent problems was still open for business. I think at every one of the half-dozen places I went today I parked next to a $100,000 Mercedes. People definitely don’t seem to be hurting.
The obliviousness of people here, where life seems not to have changed at all, is enough to make me question the whole “collapse” theology. Examining the facts logically and dispassionately I don’t see how “collapse” – financial and civilizational – can be avoided, yet can so many other people be wrong? Or so clueless? Or in such denial? My sister said that five of her neighbors had lost their jobs, and just the other night she and her husband attended a “last supper” at the home of one of their friends who was forced into a short sale. Interestingly, it was only a couple of years ago that the same sister called me “Mr. Negative” for forecasting the present events. Despite the palpable evidence of financial collapse at the very least, life goes on, seemingly on autopilot.
It’s truly surreal. I honestly hope I and others are wrong about the whole “collapse” thing, but I have a strong feeling we are not. And I also have a feeling that a lot of other people are going to be caught by surprise and stunned by the swiftness and severity of what I expect to come.
If the ship goes down, at least I’m enjoying being with my family again – my cousins, my sister, and even my parents, believe it or not! Frankly, I’m more worried by the government’s potential desperate responses to the crises than the crises themselves.