Damnit, the one time I forget to bring it with me…
I travel everywhere with my trusty 6-year-old Canon digital camera. It also offers a rudimentary video recording function. It works well for my basic purposes. In this age of video vulgarity and the abundant displays of voyeuristic human wreckage, the camera must accompany me at all times. You never know when you might be the only person with recording equipment on the scene of some outlandish viral event. I secretly fantasize about being the only person around with a camera to witness the initial scouting invasion of Earth by hungry extraterrestrial lifeforms. Just a fantasy.
Today, I forgot my camera. Not that what I saw was meme- or viral-worthy, but I would have liked to taken some shots for this post. They would have splendidly illustrated a point. Instead you’ll need to bear with my narration.
Today I drove to Pasadena by way of Oak Knoll Avenue, a narrow, tree-lined street that winds from Huntington Boulevard through South Pasadena, San Marino, and finally, Pasadena. The street’s passage through San Marino is dotted with prestigious, urban mansions. The houses are large, the yards are vast mini parks, and the neighborhood seems ripped out of a foreign locale for it bears little resemblance to what many might envision of Los Angeles. The houses are generally old and individualistic, nothing like the tract lethargy you see in new communities. San Marino is money personified. If you’re a slouch, you don’t live here, and really, you shouldn’t even drive through. This neighborhood is too classy for you. As would be expected, the 2010 predominant demographic make up for affluent San Marino is White and Asian. Two flavors, that’s it.
The 2010 United States Census reported that San Marino had a population of 13,147. The population density was 3,483.4 people per square mile (1,345.0/km²). The racial makeup of San Marino was 5,434 (41.3%) White, 55 (0.4%) African American, 5 (0.0%) Native American, 7,039 (53.5%) Asian, 2 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 198 (1.5%) from other races, and 414 (3.1%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 855 persons (6.5%).
Black and Hispanic San Marino residents, all approximately 900 of them, are most likely either musicians or live-in help. Whites and Asians (mostly Chinese) rule the well-to-do roost here.
San Marino is part of the northern, foothill-adjacent area that was hit hardest by the violent Southern California winds on Wednesday night. As I drove through, traffic lights were still out, leaves and branches dotted the streets. Gardeners were hard at work sawing and clearing. See, this is the type of community where homeowners pay people to do the shit they are too lazy and entitled to do with their own dainty hands. These people are accustomed to ordering others around. Oak Knoll is narrow, and curvy in sections. I wanted to take photos of something I saw as I drove through. Sporadic sections of the street were narrowed even further into single-lane disarray because stray branches blocked the street next to the curb. Anytime you came upon one of these branches, you needed to stop in order to make sure no oncoming traffic was headed toward you in the opposing lane so you could deliberately circumvent the fallen branches. It occurred to me as I dodged these branches that many of them were were relatively small! They were nothing that a healthy man could not lug off the street in a few strident moves. It’s not like tons of tree material were toppled over. These were stupid stringy branches that could be dragged. I wanted to take a photo to illustrate how insignificant these branches were that were laid across the roadway, impeding and inconveniencing the traffic flow. The municipal workers had bigger problems to take care of than these branches. You think the residents might help out?
Not these wealthy, lazy snobs. I joked with my son that they were probably waiting for their gardeners to do it for them. Most of these residents probably don’t even know they have a front yard or what it looks like. Heaven forbid these moneyed Whites or Asians actually dirty their smooth hands on tree branches. I guarantee you that if this was the barrio, that shit would have been cleared off immediately by the men who lived there, something San Marino apparently lacks.
When you lack a camera, you nab an image from Google Earth. This is a screen shot of a street view of a stretch of Oak Knoll Avenue I’m talking about from its better days.
I like to think that these wealthy elites do not place a great burden on society because of their dazzling doses of economic self-sufficiency, but it’s apparent that in times of emergency and natural disaster, these are the same people who will be the biggest impediment to the survival of the robust. Money and possessions get you ahead of the evolutionary line, but in a world without money or goods, there is no line, only brawn.