Claremont Insider: Life Imitating Art

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Life Imitating Art

If you wanna buy you a home or a farm,
That can't deal nobody harm,
Or take your vacation by the mountains or the sea.
Don't swap your old cow for a car,

You better stay right where you are,
You better take this little tip from me.
'Cause I look through the want ads every day
And the headlines on the papers always say:

If you ain't got that do re mi, boys,
If you ain't got the do re mi,
Oh, you better go back to beautiful Texas,
Oklahoma, Georgia, Kansas, Tennessee.

California is a garden of Eden,
It's a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi.

Do Re Mi
Woody Guthrie

Sure, we were joking last week about a reverse Dust Bowl migration out of California for Oklahoma and other Midwest destinations. But comes now the news in the San Bernardino Sun about the bad economy pushing people out of the Golden State:
California's population continues to grow, but in recent years, more people have left the state than moved in from other states.

What remains to be seen is whether California has reached a point where financial opportunity itself has fled eastward or whether the state is experiencing a short-term trend.

The Sun article goes on to say that this net outflow (not including legal and illegal immigration from other countries) preceded the current recession by a few years:
California Department of Finance statistics, released in December, show that California recorded domestic outmigration of about 135,000 people. It was the fourth consecutive year that more Americans left the state than moved in.

Each person who leaves the state has a different story. Bertha at Base Line U-Haul in San Bernardino declined to give her last name but said she has noticed people who recently moved to California are moving east again.

One woman who made the trip from Florida didn't find what she was looking for and rented a trailer for the return trip. Several families have returned to Colorado recently, she said.

Alaina Harris, now of Oklahoma City, said she grew up in Vacaville and went to college at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa.

She said she moved to Oklahoma City to take a public-relations job after earning a master's degree from Georgetown University in 2007.

This story sound familiar, and we recalled a 1977 Second City TV film spoof called "The Grapes of Mud" that took up the Tom Joad story after he gets out of prison and meets up with his family just as they're escaping the California mudslides for safe, dry Oklahoma.

"Grapes of Mud" wasn't SCTV's greatest effort. They didn't have much of a production budget to play with when they were starting out, but the bit was still funnier and smarter than just about anything else on TV at the time. The SCTV troupe went on to do some hilarious pieces, like Martin Short's over-the-top Jerry Lewis in an Ingmar Bergman-directed "Scenes from an Idiot's Marriage" - something that only a Frenchman could love.

In any case, SCTV preceded reality by a good 30 years. We always knew they were a couple steps ahead of the entertainment crowd, we just didn't fully appreciate their prescience at the time.