I passed on the free raisin snails at the motel, we went to a bagel shop in Carmel, where Clint Eastwood was once the mayor.
I thought I heard an elderly woman say, “A friend of mine got a new arm.”
(Later, Emily told me she heard it too.)
This was at the edge of an upscale shopping center. What kind of sci-fi lives did the people have around here? I’ve said that the SoCal I grew up in was like a collaboration between Philip K. Dick and the Firesign Theater spiced with some Cheech and Chong, the same seems to go for contemporary NorCal. How long before all of California starts to look like a backdrop for my stories?
The shopping center seemed to have roots that go back to the pre-mall era, kept up by a robust local economy.
There were some thrift stores and a bookstore that Mike liked.
There were also signs announcing a prohibition on dogs relieving themselves on the premises.
This one place had a big sign: SYNCHRONICITY HOLISTIC. We wondered whatthehell kinda business that were in, then there was this slick, subtle, wordless sign: a marijuana leaf. Or should I say cannabis?
It was closed, but when I put my face close to the tinted windows, it looked like a bank: plush ultramodern furniture, plants that may have been artificial, and velvet ropes in front of a high counter where you could purchase high-price products that would make you feel synchronic and holistic.
It was right out of the New Wave spec fic I read in my youth. I imagine a time travel situation where I could show this to spaced-out hippies from 1969. Would they be delighted or horrified?
A short stroll away was another place: BIG SUR, CANNA + BOTANICALS.
Another place offered LASER AESTHETICS.
Who knows, the place that sells new arms was probably not far away . . .
Next it was historic Cannery Row, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Parking and getting in was a cyberKafka labyrinth. The bay area is a dense tourist area, and the parking meters were hard to figure out. You can’t just walk up and buy the expensive tickets to the aquarium and get in. Employees with hand-held gadgets told us we could only do it online, they helped, but . . .
The aquarium was a blast once we got in. Not just a bunch of fish tanks, but recreated ocean environments, deep sea, kelp forests, tide pools . . . alien environments with strange lifeforms, and they’re right here on this planet. In fact, most of this planet is ocean. We surface dwellers are a minority.
It was fun, but then, like the octopus clinging to the glass, gripping a piece of PVC pipe, not moving, I felt uneasy. Most of the jellyfish were swimming upside-down–was this normal, or a reaction to the unnatural situation? How long before all natural environments are locked up in artificial recreations like this? The creeping Disneylandization of the planet. Pay the high price for tickets, stand in line, be part of the crowd, a cell in the economic organism, consume what’s left of the ecosystem . . .
Or maybe we are already a worldwide zoo/aquarium, and alien tourists whizz by delighting in our crime, wars, and self-destruction . . .
Later, in a thrift shop in Pacific Grove, I a copy of André Breton’s Manifestoes of Surrealism.