If I were called upon to construct a religion, I would use parking. I can think of few experiences more spiritual than the search for a vacant space in a crowded lot. Think about it - the timorous yet hopeful entry, the endless circling in search of something that increasingly comes to feel like the truth, the delicate balance between those coming in and those leaving, the almost unconscious movement from level to level, and then, just when you've almost given up hope, the unexpected salvation - a space that seems to be waiting just for you. And the Parked would welcome the newly blessed joyfully into their ranks. And the Damned would be condemned to circle for ever and ever, cursing that guy in the white convertible for having parked so poorly. And Limbo would be finding street parking but not having the quarters for the meter. And some would slip effortlessly into heaven while others would have to try again and again before they fit in. And all the while a voice over the loudspeaker would be reminding you to pay for the sins of your last life before you re-enter the world.
(see also: That scene in Bananas where four men in black try to parallel park a crucified Woody Allen)
Yes, I'm back. Expect lots of posts about California (chiefly the Bay Area) as well as movies (I watched four new ones last week - Juno, Charlie Wilson's War, The Savages and Sweeney Todd - not to mention my newly established tradition of watching The Hudsucker Proxy on New Year's Eve) .
For now, let me just say that I'm more convinced than ever that California should be relabeled the Tourist State. Seriously. Everywhere you go there are bound to be at least half a dozen people with cameras striking idiotic poses and generally getting in the way. This would be annoying, except that in most cases the tourists are actually the most interesting part of what you've gone to see. They should have a tourism campaign about this. California: Come See Tourists. After all, that's what all the sea lions and cormorants are there for. Hell, even the people who live there seem like tourists half the time. In fact, as far as I can tell, the whole state is one big vacation run amok.
On the plus side, at least the state did live up to its reputation for sunshine. I managed six whole days of glorious weather - the full splendor of which was brought rudely home to me when I arrived back in Philly last night (having spent half of Tuesday lazing about the Stanford lawns in a T-shirt) to find that the temperature, with wind chill, was 8 degrees F. I miss California already.