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  • People in California seem to age at a different rate than the rest of the country. Maybe it's the passion for diet and exercise, maybe the popularity of cosmetic surgery. Or maybe we're afflicted with such a horror of aging that we've halted the process psychically.

  • ... I am a Californian, and we have twice the individuality and originality of any people in the United States. We always get quite huffy when we are spoken of as merely Americans.

  • ... California has all the beauties of youth as well as its idiocies and vices ...

  • Nowhere can it rain harder and with a more tiresome persistence than in California during the brief season when it rains at all.

  • We Californians are constantly accused of not having seasons, but we do. We have fire, flood, mud, and drought.

  • ... in California death is one of the most successfully kept secrets there is. If you doubt this, try to find a cemetery.

  • Californians are good at planning for the earthquake, while simultaneously denying it will happen.

  • Californians have brought suburb-making almost to an art. Their cities and their country-side are equally suburban. No-one has a country house in California; no-one has a city house. It is good to see trees always from city windows, but it is not so good always to see houses from country windows.

  • ... always there is a sort of dream of air between you and the hills of California, a veil of unreality in the intervening air. It gives the hills the bloom that peaches have, or grapes in the dew.

  • California ... is the place that sets the trends and establishes the values for the rest of the country; like a slow ooze, California culture spreads eastward across the land.

  • Only a Californian would have observed that it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the real fake from the fake fake.

  • Did California cause any of this? No, though it does seem to draw to it people with unusual inclinations.

  • California is now close to spending more on prisons than it does on higher education — surely the death warrant of a civilization.

  • California is a state peculiarly addicted to swift enthusiasms. It is a seed-bed of all manner of cults and theories, taken up, and dropped, with equal speed.

  • June marked the end of spring on California's central coast and the beginning of five months of dormancy that often erupted in fire. Mustard's yellow robes had long since turned red, then brown. Fog and sun mixed to create haze. The land had rusted. The mountains, once blue-hued with young oaks and blooming ceanosis, were tan and gray. I walked across the fallen blossoms of five yucca plants: only the bare poles of their stems remained to mark where their lights had shone the way.

  • The early symptoms of the disease [California Curse], which break out almost on arrival in Hollywood, are a sense of exaggerated self-importance and self-centeredness which naturally alienates all old friends. Next comes a great desire for and belief in the importance of money above all else, a loss of the normal sense of humor and proportion and finally, in extreme cases, the abandonment of all previous standards of moral value.

  • ... with a country of rare picturesqueness for a background, a people of rare beauty for actors, everybody more or less permeated with the artistic instinct and everybody more or less writing poetry — California has a pageant for breakfast, a fiesta for luncheon and a carnival for dinner. They are always electing queens. In fact any girl in California who hasn't been a queen of something before she's twenty-one is a poor prune.

  • ... whatever San Francisco is or is not, it is never dull. Life there is in a perpetual ferment. It is as though the city kettle had been set on the stove to boil half a century ago and had never been taken off. The steam is pouring out of the nose. The cover is dancing up and down. The very kettle is rocking and jumping. But by some miracle the destructive explosion never happens.

  • ... there are no old people in California. Nobody ever gets a chance to grow old there. The climate won't let you. The scenery won't let you. The life won't let you.

  • Perhaps after all the most breathtaking quality about San Francisco is these unexpected glimpses that you are always getting of beautiful hill-heights and beautiful valley-depths. ... City lights, like nests of diamonds, glitter and glisten in the depths of those valleys.

  • California, where the spring comes in the fall and the fall comes in the summer and the summer comes in the winter and the winter never comes at all ...

  • California ... produces the maximum of scenery and the minimum of weather ...

  • Nobody can take away your future. Nobody can take away something you don't have yet.

  • ... California, the last frontier, the goal of adventurers, desperadoes, nonconformists, fugitives from justice, undiscovered geniuses, impenitent sinners, and hopeless lunatics, a place where even today every possible formula for avoiding the anguish of living proliferates. ... There is something in the air of the place that agitates the spirit. Or maybe those who came to populate the region were in such a hurry to find their fortune — or easy oblivion — that their soul lagged behind, and they are still looking for it. Uncounted charlatans have profited from this phenomenon, offering magic formulas to fill the painful void left by the absent spirit.

  • ... in California I began to think that, except on the beaches, no-one had the use of their legs.

  • [On California:] I am crazy about the mountains, the seas, and the low-hung stars; and the air is the freshest, the cleanest that I ever have had to breathe in all my experience with this world.

    • Gene Stratton-Porter,
    • in Jeannette Porter Meehan, The Lady of the Limberlost: Life and Letters of Gene Stratton-Porter ()
  • One feature about Los Angeles that I particularly love is the chance for association with all kinds of creative artists, a thing I never before have had. I certainly do love a number of the writers, the painters, the musicians, and the sculptors that I meet here. ... Next to the sunshine, I appreciate it the most of anything in California.

    • Gene Stratton-Porter,
    • in Jeannette Porter Meehan, The Lady of the Limberlost: Life and Letters of Gene Stratton-Porter ()
  • ... as is often said, nothing is strange in California.

  • All creative people should be required to leave California for three months every year.

  • Thunderstorms were rare in California, but when they came they were, like most things in California, larger than life.

    • Helen McCloy,
    • "Murder Ad Lib," in Ellery Queen's 20th Anniversary Annual ()
  • Going back to California is not like going back to Vermont, or Chicago; Vermont and Chicago are relative constants, against which one measures one's own change. All that is constant about the California of my childhood is the rate at which it disappears.

    • Joan Didion,
    • "Notes From a Native Daughter," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • ... California is a place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension; in which the mind is troubled by some buried but ineradicable suspicion that things had better work here, because here, beneath that immense bleached sky, is where we run out of continent.

    • Joan Didion,
    • "Notes From a Native Daughter," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • ... Lancaster, California ... that promised land sometimes called 'the west coast of Iowa.'

    • Joan Didion,
    • "Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • The future always looks good in the golden land, because no one remembers the past ... Here is the last stop for all those who come from somewhere else, for all those who drifted away from the cold and the past and the old ways.

    • Joan Didion,
    • "Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • Californians try everything once.

  • As one went to Europe to see the living past, so one must visit Southern California to observe the future.

  • The land around San Juan Capistrano is the pocket where the Creator keeps all his treasures. Anything will grow there ...

  • What does a Californian make for dinner? Reservations.

  • Nobody can tell about this California climate. One minit its hot and the next minit its cold, so a person never knows what to hock.

  • She was reminded of the song she'd first learned to tapdance to, the one about leaving your worries behind you and crossing to the sunny side of the street. If California wasn't the sunny side of the street, she didn't know what was.

  • When Linda confessed her dislike of driving, Cynthia said that driving was only a metaphor for living, and to think of entering a freeway as merging with the moving stream of life. While Linda was trying to absorb that idea, Cynthia continued, 'Hey, I ought to know something after fifteen years on the couch, shouldn't I? Now tell me all about how you got to California, and in God's name why.'

  • Cynthia wanted to know if she'd come out here to be discovered. When Linda looked blank for a moment, Cynthia laughed and said, 'How refereshing!' Everybody else, she assured Linda, was trying to break into the industry, on one level or another. Waiters, parking attendants, supermarket clerks. Her own houseman took method-acting classes, and her secretary wrote screenplays in her spare time. Cynthia said she half expected her dentist to break into song and dance during a root canal.

  • Today it is the richest, most populous, looniest state, and a host of other superlatives, but above all it is first. Soothsayers once foretold the future by dropping molten gold into water. If we could drop the dogleg of California into water, we could forecast America. The sun moves from east to west, but as every long-suffering California reporter knows, everything else in the United States moves in the opposite direction. What happens today in California turns up tomorrow in the Midwest and only then arrives in the decaying and moribund cities of the East ...

  • ... every millennium, another foot or so of California disappears. Geologists spend a lot of time measuring its slow but inexorable westward slide. I wish somebody would study the slippage in the other direction. Nearly all of our national fads and foibles, political trends, and social seizures seem to begin in California. They appear along the Pacific shoreline like salamanders crawling up onto the beaches out of the sunset's fire to begin the trek. Eastward, ho! As a cradle of contemporary civilization, the sands of Santa Monica rival those of the Nile Valley. Consider hula hoops, bikini suits, skateboards, smog alerts, encounter groups, jogging, open sex, swinging singles, BankAmericards, Frisbees, McDonald's, I Ching, Zen tennis, topless cocktails, and black power. Consider the taxpayers' revolt — Proposition 13. Consider picture windows. Think of it! The very flesh and profile of today, all blooming first in the warm California sunshine! The place is prototypical America. The entire state is a series of stage sets, from the forced-perspective streets of San Francisco to the faded, painted backcloth of Los Angeles. The apparent unreality of California may be what is most real about it. The place is continually in the process of becoming, perpetually emergent, like a darkroom image developing in its chemical bath, and what is liveliest about America, most energetic, most dissatisfied with things-as-they-are, most ardent for things-as-they-might-be, most rootless, most forward-looking, most superficial, most contemporary, most independent, most existential, most flimsy, all piles up along our teeming western edge.

  • Californians tend to be outspoken. When the great migration began, the more timid people must have stayed home, and the bolder ones headed west.

  • They were headed south on I-5 ... Kick had a theory that 30 percent of the drivers on it any given time were actively committing a crime.