MRUs ”Prospect On” Articles Series California Decoded by chenboying


									                               MRU’s ”Prospect On” Articles Series

                                             California Decoded

                                                  Marco Ruocco
                                                 August 31, 2006

1   Preamble                                                   coming ”She” (Lady California?), holding up to him
                                                               the candle (a clear referral to the homonymous id-
In the year 1998, ”I saw a shimmering light, my head           iomatic expression), leads inside the building, while
grew heavy and my sight grew dim: I had to stop for            the Mission bell is echoing in the vicinity. She is rich,
the night” - in sunny California. I saw the same shim-         happy, with expensive cars and many boys ”which she
mering light again in the year 2000, being attracted           calls friends”. In fact it is not an anonymous desert
there for a second stay (”and I don’t mean on vaca-            motel like many others, but something beyond good
tion”). I spent a total of four years in (the Hotel)           and evil, and precisely recognized in an early, critical
California, later finding that the perceptions I had            perception as either Heaven or Hell - a special place,
collected on site had a lot more to do with a couple           in other words, off the standards, or off the norm.
of classic songs, so well known and unexplored at the
same time, than what appeared in the dimension of              The refrain of the song describes many distant, but
shared belief in which most of my waking experience            perhaps near, voices, bound together as in a sirens’
lied. Rare are the songs which are capable of scanning         choir, assuring that there is plenty of room in the
deep and through the truly unexplored realm of ex-             Hotel, any time of the year. It is the place in which
perience - in fashion of giant radio-telescopes pointed        travellers and strangers are always welcome (perhaps
to the sky and not earthbound. Sometimes they get              the Hotel has many guests from abroad, and probably
it right and report useful interpretations of what lies        from the Mexican border too), and are invited for the
”beyond the ridge”, although sometimes, I suspect,             feast which is going on indefinitely. As becomes clear
they achieve this by pure chance, or driven by a more          later, the cost to pay in return is very high: to remain
earthly desire of grandeur. Nonetheless, their signal          bound there forever, in body and maybe in soul too.
is clear, and when it clicks, it clicks.
                                                               The spirits inhabiting the place hold not in stock the
                                                               spirit (the liquor, for a loaded double-sense) asked by
2   Hotel California                                           the traveller - that spirit is rare and therefore misrep-
The song starts off with a metaphor, reminiscent of             resented. The choir goes on in a crescendo of allu-
Dante’s Inferno as far as its location in the introduc-        sion, suggesting to bring in the Hotel your alibis: the
tory verses is concerned. The tired traveller seeks for        friendly looking Hotel allows you to be there and not
shelter in a Hotel attracted by bright lights, while           suffering from being anywhere else, for a perfect and
driving through a not better defined Southern Cali-             happy peace of mind, chiefly self-satisfied.
fornia landscape (I still do not know what flowers the          They finally say it clearly: in the splendor of a Cali-
colitas exactly are, but they must be sweetly perfumed         fornian party setting (just the happy all-colors vodka
and typical of the area). It seems just a necessary rest       jellies seem missing...), they admit to be prisoners of
stop during a trip, but it will be revealed soon that is       their own machination - while the feast is going on
instead going to be a permanent stop.                          wildly since an undetermined starting time, the spir-
After the Hotel has been successfully reached, the wel-        its therein conspire to make the Hotel the only place

in the world to care for, but although they try, they            and direction of upward movement or buoyancy, or,
just can’t kill the beast.                                       rather, its annihilation, in favor of something else, or
                                                                 alternative, which craves to take its place, as an un-
The beast in not anything transcendental or complex:             lawful usurper.
it is simply the remains of the world outside the Hotel
being progressively tamed, crooked and distorted, and            As it was the case for The Eagles, the Red Hot Chili
substituted by an alternative ultimate party which for           Peppers see California as a land which attracts and
some reason does not conquer the entire scene, but               bounds, where everybody has been, and not just on
leaves behind restlessness and dissatisfaction, of which         vacation, as a globally shared and apparently immor-
they invariably moan.                                            tal experience - and this is not seen positively, but
                                                                 probably as a form of a subtle common agreement,
The terrified traveller tries to escape - I had to find the        or properly a plot, untouchable by senses or reason,
passage back to the place I was before - which is not            but present in a dimension which is not very remote
simply exiting from the nearest door, but it requires            either. It is there, coexisting with your everyday life,
to undo the entire process of entering (although un-             on another level, or, better, ”on the other side” of
intentionally) that very strange dimension.                      things (to cite a verse of another famous song of the
                                                                 Red Hot in the same Californication album, that gives
Compare this song’s ending passage with the con-
                                                                 to it the title).
clusion of Dante’s Inferno, in which Dante had to
go through a narrow tunnel (the ”natural burella”),
opening just very close to the place where Lucifer was           4     Epilogue
rooted upside-down in its damnation, at the bottom
of the Inferno - allowing Dante and Virgilio to finally           The only viable response to this dramatic state of
go back to the surface ”a riveder le stelle” (that is, to        things comes from a locally very famous pop band
see the stars again).                                            of the Santa Barbara, California, area. Toad the Wet
                                                                 Sprocket (aka the ”Toads”) simply say ”Throw it all
                                                                 away” acting from the viewpoint of a more earthly di-
3    Californication                                             mension from which people (like me) sensed and were
                                                                 worried by all of this. The backyard of a students’
This time, it is not a solitary Hotel to having been
                                                                 house, probably a setting of many mesmerizing par-
unintentionally entered - it is rather the strange di-
                                                                 ties, is turned in a temporary receptacle of all bad
mension of California, the same depicted in the pre-
                                                                 things accumulated in a few years’ mistakes, of which
vious song but here called with the poignant name
                                                                 the soul was loaded. A big and warm bonfire, away
of ”Californication”, to be seen as overwhelming and
                                                                 from Californication and back to square one, to start
unstoppable in its greed. The authors of this song are
                                                                 again. If you still can.
the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

”Californication” is made of a series of deep and                5     Appendix - Cited songs lyrics
doom-evoking concept images - the one I prefer is the
image of the Sun, once independent in its heavenly               5.1    Hotel California - The Eagles
trajectory, that has now really just a single spot left in       On a dark desert highway
which to set, and it is the West. A second interesting           Cool wind in my hair
image depicts a girl with an electric guitar, which does         The warm smell of colitas
not pay attention to the ongoing earthquake which                Rising up through the air
                                                                 Up ahead in a distance I saw a shimmering light
shatters the Earth, because the only perceivable end             My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
result of it is a good vibration (or vibe), for her to           I had to stop for the night
                                                                 There she stood in the doorway
Those images, all of which I shall not list here, show           I heard the mission bell
                                                                 And I was thinking to myself
a clear perspective on California in which Nature is             This could be heaven or this could be hell
tamed and turned to a subordinate role, or passively             Then she lit up a candle
and inexorably induced to disappear altogether, with             And she showed me the way
in addition an ongoing runaway process by which the              There were voices down the corridor
                                                                 I thought I heard them say
worst has not been seen yet. And Nature is not Bambi
or the Forest, but the upturning of the general verse            Welcome to the Hotel California

Such a lovely place, such a lovely face                                  It’s Californication
There’s plenty of room in the Hotel California
Any time of year, you can find it here                                    Space may be the final frontier
                                                                         But it’s made in a Hollywood basement
Her mind is tiffany twisted                                               Cobain can you hear the spheres
She’s got a Mercedes Benz                                                Singing songs off station to station
She’s got a lotta pretty, pretty boys                                    And Alderon’s not far away
She calls friends                                                        It’s Californication
How they dance in the courtyard
Sweet summer sweat                                                       Born and raised by those who praise
Some dance to remember                                                   Control of population everybody’s been there
Some dance to forget                                                     and I don’t mean on vacation

So I called up the captain                                               Destruction leads to a very rough road
Please bring me my wine                                                  But it also breeds creation
He said ”We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969”                     And earthquakes are to a girl’s guitar
And still those voices are calling from far away                         They’re just another good vibration
Wake you up in the middle of the night                                   And tidal waves couldn’t save the world
Just to hear them say                                                    From Californication

Welcome to the Hotel California                                          Pay your surgeon very well
Such a lovely place, such a lovely face                                  To break the spell of aging
They’re livin’ it up at the Hotel California                             Sicker than the rest
What a nice surprise, bring your alibis                                  There is no test
                                                                         But this is what you’re craving
Mirrors on the ceilling, the pink champagne on ice
And she said ”We are all just prisoners here of our own device”          5.3     Throw it all away - Toad the Wet Sprocket
In the masters chambers they’re gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the       Take your cautionary tales
beast                                                                    Take your incremental gain
                                                                         And all the sychophantic games
Last thing I remember, I was runnin’ for the door                        And throw ’em all away
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
”Relax” said the night man ”We are programmed to recieve                 Burn your tv in your yard
You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave”             And gather ’round it with your friends
                                                                         And warm your hands upon the fire
5.2     Californication - Red Hot Chili Peppers                          And start again

Psychic spies from China                                                 Take the story you’ve been told
Try to steal your mind’s elation                                         The lies that justify the pain
Little girls from Sweden                                                 The guilt the weighs upon your soul
Dream of silver screen quotations                                        And throw ’em all away
And if you want these kind of dreams
It’s Californication                                                     Tear up the calendar you’ve bought
                                                                         And throw the pieces to the sky
It’s the edge of the world                                               Confetti falling down like rain
And all of western civilization                                          Like a parade to usher in your life
The sun may rise in the East
At least it settles in the final location                                 Take the dreams that should have died
It’s understood that Hollywood sells Californication                     The ones that kept you lying awake
                                                                         When you should’ve been all right
Pay your surgeon very well                                               And throw ’em all away
To break the spell of aging
Celebrity skin is this your chin                                         With the time I waste on the life I never had
Or is that war your waging                                               I could’ve turned myself into a better man
                                                                         ’cause there ain’t nothing you can buy
[Chorus:]                                                                And there is nothing you can save
First born unicorn                                                       To fill the whole inside your heart
Hard core soft porn                                                      So throw it all away
Dream of Californication                                                 Won’t fill the whole inside your heart
Dream of Californication
                                                                         Help me empty out this house
Marry me girl be my fairy to the world                                   The wool I’ve gathered all these days
Be my very own constellation                                             And thought I couldn’t do without
A teenage bride with a baby inside                                       And throw it all away
Getting high on information
And buy me a star on the boulevard


To top