* It would be instructive to know what it was about California that so appealed to Steve Jobs.
* Well in his absence his widow has certainly been working overtime to turn it into Mexico.
* Here’s an idea for an alternate history novel (steal it, by all means):
Steve Jobs is still alive (saved by some biotech startup, no doubt), wants to be more public-spirited, and so as part of some grand peace deal, he “returns” to his ancestral homeland to replace Assad as President of Syria, which he remakes into a giant Apple campus.
Come to think of it, isn’t that pretty much the SJW dream?
* Yes, we’ve seen this movie before. Big company makes lots of cash, blows some on a fancy HQ, then sags into mediocrity.
American homeowners do it too. They buy their first home when they can. They keep working and the lucky ones go up the ladder and make good money. Then they blow that income by borrowing up the wazoo for a McMansion. Then all their monthly income from their now well-paying job goes to mortgage, interest, property tax and maintenance. They make themselves house poor.
My father climbed in a big corporation that did this same thing. I remember touring the new headquarters on the big ranch they’d bought at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. They’d moved all of us to another state for this. They had cash. The place was a 1970s designer’s wet dream. I even remember custom woven, 3-D artwork lining hallways. Dad’s new office looked out over an amazing landscape. Parking garage? Ha! Spiral ramps took you and your vehicle up to the roof overlooking the scenery.
A Dow Jones industrial, my father’s company crapped itself in a few years. Now William Buffett owns it.
Mr. Buffett has lived in the same, suburban, stucco house in Omaha for decades.
* Have you ever been to California? There are mountains right up against the ocean, enormous canyons backed by painted deserts, and forests of giant trees surrounding crystal blue alpine lakes, all right above vineyards and beaches with a perfect Mediterranean climate. Then, right in the middle of all of that, are two enormous, fascinating, chaotic cities, both built on impossible dreams, fame in one case and boundless innovation in the other, and in each the entire world of cuisine and culture is available at your fingertips.
As long as you never have to worry about money and never have to commute during rush hour, California is a paradise on Earth, and both of those conditions applied to Steve Jobs.
* In crowded European cities it is common to have underground parking garages. On top you see a lovely plaza or a park and the only thing visible above ground is a ramp entrance.
However, I’m sure that must cost more than an above ground structure and there are limits to how deep you can go. In NY, the city is built on bedrock which is great for skyscraper foundations but the only way to dig a hole is with explosives. In other cities there is plenty of land available for parking garages and even surface lots since the white people fled to the suburbs (thus necessitating the car in the 1st place) and the businesses to suburban shopping malls.
I have been in dozens of US cities where everyone drives downtown from the suburbs, parks in the parking garage, works in the office tower and then at 5PM they get back in their car and flee back to the suburbs. Often they never literally set foot on the streets. Some cities even have tunnel or skyway systems so even if you are walking you still don’t have to be on the street. After dark and on weekends you could shoot a cannon down the main streets in the downtown business district and not hit anyone. These places strike me as sad and depressing and the postwar replacement public spaces (e.g. shopping malls) are sterile and corporate and dedicated to commerce above all. There are no real civic spaces and no real civic life.
Part of the problem is that much of the US does not have a Mediterranean climate. It’s hot as hell in the summer and cold in the winter so no one wants to be out on the street. But even in places where the climate is great, people are still in their cars. I don’t know what caused it (black criminality causing whites to flee was one element but not the only element) or how to fix it but it really sucks.
* America culture demands to be very nice and friendly to each other. Thus it saps lots of energy. Staying away from people saves energy. European do not pretend to be friendly and nice to strangers, so they can handle each other better. Neighbors live w/o ver acknowledging each other. Also by not being friendly in Europe you do not feel you are risking your life.
New York city is much more normal. Not friendly but to the point. People can be very helpful and useful in NYC. For example they tell you “F.. if know”, instead of wasting your time giving you wrong directions when you are in Midwest, because they just feel compelled to be helpful even if the can’t. BTW, Brits are also awful in giving directions.
* “After dark and on weekends you could shoot a cannon down the main streets in the downtown business district and not hit anyone.”
Here in Northern California that describes downtown Sacramento. 8pm there looks like it’s 4am in the morning. That’s how dead it is there as soon as it gets dark. It looks like the Will Smith film I Am Legend.
A city with a population of almost 500,000 thousand people like Sactown should not be so dead. I can’t imagine a European city with a similar population size as Sacramento being so lifeless in it’s downtown area.
* California is not completely ruined yet. It is after all a very big place. In the Bay Area megalopolis the Berkeley Hills from Castro Valley to El Cerrito are still lovely as they were developed early and are protected on their east side by East Bay Park and Utility District reservoir land. Much of the North Coast and the Sierras are still relatively undeveloped as is the Central Coast from Point Conception to San Francisco where, unlike in Southern California, the Coastal Commission has actually been able to enforce the rules set out in 1972′s Proposition 20.
* BTW, the places with the “good” schools are now often heavily Asian (both East and South). Those schools are so “good” that white people sometime avoid them because the atmosphere is too competitive. White people are like Goldilocks – they want their schools not too hard and not too soft.
People here make fun of Asians as being mindless drones without creativity but the next generation of soft, lazy white people are going to get their lunch eaten by Asians, both here and abroad. People have NO idea what China is planning, nor do the Chinese want you to know. It will make what Japan did in the ’30s look like a joke. And this time the Asians have their own nukes. The Chinese would much rather that America destroy itself with political infighting and worrying about whether Trump is Putin’s gay lover and whether Black Lives Matter. For now they are biding their time because they still need trade with the West. By the time people realize what hit them, it will be too late.
* Check out where the “Tech Titans” live.
Jobs – before he died – bought a house in Woodside, Calif (one built by Julia Morgan, the famed architect who designed Hearst Castle). Woodside, for those not familiar with the Bay Area, is a rural town north and west of the real “valley.” It retains a highly rustic flavour, with many tracts large enough to have horses. They have zoning laws that forbid parcels less than an acre, so cheap, tract housing or apartments with 10 adults to a room are effectively banned.
It looks very much the same now as it did in 1960.
Many of the others are not different. Larry Ellison also lives in Woodside.
Sheryl Sandberg lives just across 280 in Atherton, which also has almost zero retail or commercial, and restricts lots to 1 acre or more.
These guys do not care about the impact of their policies on America, because they simply build a wall between the effects and their own lives.
* Have you ever smelled the sweet eucalyptus mingling with the cool breeze as it blows off the Pacific as you head into Santa Cruz, or Capitola? Have you watched the sun set at the Marin Headlands, Stinson Beach or Half Moon Bay? Can you remember biting into the most lucious peach ever while standing in the farmers market in San Fran, picked yesterday from an orchard on the other side of the bay? Have you stood at the base of El Capitan, gazing up as the brilliant light bounces off the granite and forms rainbows in the mist of the waterfalls flowing into the Merced River? Have you ridden a bike down the PCH from Monterrey to Slo-town? If you have done any of these things, I don’t know how you can ask this question.
I know of no place with a more fortuitous confluence of climate, terrain and sheer natural beauty than California. Jobs had a superb aesthetic sense. None of the virtues of california were lost on him. He could see there could beauty in simple typeface, and that each person could have a tiny moment of transcendence if the materials, design and workmanship of an everyday thing like your cell phone gave you a shiver when you touched it. Having the object respond perfectly to your desire, requiring no effort or though on your part as you used it was part of his vision. How could a person like Jobs not appreciate California in the 50s and 60s? Who doesn’t yearn for it now?
Life is short. Beauty is rare and fleeting.