Thanksgiving for California

Thanksgiving for California

Thank you for your wine, California,
Thank you for your sweet and bitter fruits.

— “Sweet Virginia,” by The Rolling Stones

NOV. 23, 2010


California has a lot of problems, with the budget, unemployment and all. But with Thanksgiving this week, I thought I’d list some of the things to be thankful for living in California.

* Weather. I’ve lived in a number of other states and visited Europe and Mexico, and no place has weather as good as California . I’ve also talked to airline pilots who fly all over the globe, and they say the same thing. Even other areas with a similar Mediterranean climate, such as Chile, Southern France, Greece, and parts of Australia, while close to the balmy weather of California, don’t match it.

* Almost no hurricanes. If you live in Florida, New Orleans or one of those places over there, every couple of years a hurricane destroys your house. California does have hurricanes, but not many.

* Celebrities. Ellie May of The Beverly Hillbillies was standing outside my Church in Huntington Beach a couple years ago, but left before I could get her autograph. In real life she’s the beauteous Donna Douglass. You don’t see stars like that back in Bug Tussle.

Other celebrities I’ve seen in Southern California include Bo Derek and Jane Russell, a 10 and an 11. They were at Republican functions I reported on.


Where was I? Oh yeah.

And when I was working at the Orange County Register, we met Arnold Schwarzenegger, who certainly had star power, although even back then in 2002 and 2003 I disagreed with his policies.

A special treat was when Moses stopped by the Register for a long chat about anything — Charlton Heston, that is. It was before he got involved with the NRA. He liked our editorial page and wanted to talk to us. I got an autograph for my Mom, which she really enjoyed.

* Cutting-edge industries. Silicon Valley still propels the computer world. And the area around Irvine is the world’s creative center for medical devices.
Here’s that great 1984 ad introducing the Macintosh and which typified Apple’s, and California’s, creative spirit:

* Great technical universities. As with most schools in America, the humanities departments at most universities and colleges have been destroyed by “deconstructionism,” cultural Marxism and other anti-human fads. But the technical departments — biology, physics, medical school, computers, etc. —  are among the best in the world. Competition is tough and tuition is rising. But if your kid is smart enough, he doesn’t have to go out of state to get a great education.

Some economics departments, like that at Chapman University, also are excellent.

* Wine. Nowadays you can get California wine in many areas of the world. Gotta love that global economy. But many of our 1,200 wineries distribute only locally; or it’s hard to get them elsewhere. And in California, you can visit the local wineries that keep dropping like ripe grapes from a vine.

The Wine Country is the most famous. But I recently enjoyed a tour of the wineries in Temecula Valley, just an hour east of Orange County. Cheers!

* Beaches. That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? Beach Boys, Frankie and Annette, California Girls in the surf, a stroll along the surf at sunset.

* Monterey Peninsula. This is my favorite place in the world. I spent a year there back in 1978-79 attending the Defense Language Institute to learn Russian. Quite a change from boot camp at frozen Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. a few weeks before.

* Guitars. Rickenbacker, based in Santa Ana, put the twang in the Beatles’ early records. With a Stratocaster, by Fender in Fullerton (now, Corona), Jimi Hendrix people believe me set the world on fire (to quote the Animals) at Monterey. Then there are GretschB.C. Rich, Carvin and others. (A lot of these guitars now are made in China or Korea; but many still are built right here in California.)

Here’s John with a Rick and George with a Gretsch, both made in California:

And here’s Jimi with his Strat at Monterey, still insane after all these 43 years:

* Culture: The Getty Museum is a favorite. And there are world-class orchestras, including the L.A. Philharmonic, the Pacific Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony.

Here’s the Getty Villa:

* Restaurants. In many places in America your choice of international food is Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Wienerschnitzel and the International House of Pancakes. We have those too in California, but you also can get authentic Mexican, Italian, German, Persian, Indian, Afghan, and dozens more — just down the street.

* Fewer bugs. Florida has pretty nice weather most of the time, but the place is infested with a large number of bugs from the swamps. California is largely an irrigated desert, so we don’t have that many bugs. I also grew up in Michigan, which can be nice in the summer, but is infested with so many mosquitoes you feel you’re on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in 1945 fighting off kamikazes.

* Thanksgiving in shorts. Where else can you have your Turkey and stuffing outside with family and friends, wearing shorts while sipping your favorite cocktail?

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

John Seiler is a reporter and analyst for His email: [email protected]


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  1. Eric in Santa Rosa
    Eric in Santa Rosa 27 November, 2010, 13:43

    Happy Thanksgiving, John! You have to also try wineries located in the Sierra foothills, particularly the Shenandoah Valley in Amador County near Plymouth. Great barberas especially!

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