Friday, October 10, 2008

Loss of history and the lack of depth in our culture

George Stienbeck would barely recognize the town he made famous in Cannery Row. Every cannery has been converted (perverted) into gift shops or tourist restaurants and Starbucks. I have a hard time believing that any real canning goes on in this effete town of Monterey. The "working man" image of Steinbeck's novels has been drained from this town by the coffee sipping, trinket buying, snapshot taking tourist looking for that "truth of character" that he brought out in his writings. I believe he would say that Monterey experienced a loss of integrity amongst members of society and a subsequent decay of the town he was fond of. What is missing is Lee Chong's flower store or the Chinaman wandering in and out of everyone's life in Cannery Row.
While the town has experienced growth via the commercialism that haunts every great place, the surrounding coastline is still shrouded in fog that rolls in and out on its own schedule. Things along the coast haven't changed since Steinbeck wrote of the jobless local Mexicans in his book Tortilla Flats.  

This picture makes me think of an Obama - McCain debate...
I wonder what Doc (the Marine biologist from Cannery Row) would have thought about this sea lion dodging a wave. It was as if this little dude was scared of the water. I can see how easy it was for Steinbeck to create the character of Doc and fleshing him out in a way that would encourage thousands of high school students to become marine biologists after reading that book.

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