Traveling the US – West Coast

This is my non-native try to translate my text. If you wanna correct it, feel free to do so here:

Seattle. Finally. I am getting picked up. By car. Luckily. The tears have dried, the searched by TSA luggage collected and the free Wi-Fi found. Seattle is dry, sunny and quite different from what I know from the east coast now. Broader, plainer, somehow dreamy. Walking trough EMP Museum, considering the obvious wealth of the city (Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Boeing are settled here) and the rugged landscape I do understand better and more insistent, the emerge of grunge. Somewhere between middle class and liberty, between open inventiveness and checkered smugness.

(Who can remember him? And Bianca?)

We take the ferry, have fun at a wine tasting and in the evening we watch the Oscars. The first time in my life that I can watch them without getting up in the middle of the night. The joy is ultimately the size of disappointment of a moderator who tries to caricature the grand gesture of moderating and becomes itself a caricature of an old, patronizing white American that defines himself by discriminating against marginalized groups. Quentin Tarantino won the Oscar for his screenplay for Django Unchained. I think this is just right: The one that can get a German heroic saga retold with two slaves in the southern U.S. shortly before the Civil War, can definitely win. That the organizers had the nerve to let him walk down the stage to the theme of Gone with the Wind just shows how damaged Hollywood is. That Hollywood is rather filthy, I’d soon find out. Read on Oscar night: The Atlantic and Vulture

The television program says a lot about a country. As an devoted fan to U.S. shows I’ve never really seen actual US television. So I started the adventure. And it’s literally breath taking. The content entities are un-graspable short, it is restless, nothing remains, no idea is formulated, advertising pushes itself in every second of every thought. And so I realize in the middle of my trip how crazy this country is. So big, so silly, so infinite in possibilities, ideas, truths. Far and boundless.

Tipsy from my own pathos I board another train. 24 hours. Down to the west coast to San Francisco. They promised me free WiFi. So I decided to spend some hours in Oregon.

After many discussions with various passengers (The R in Amtrak stands for retiree) and the craziest stories about odysseys through the country, exorbitant tuition fees and strange mouth disease I get (still on the train) finally to California. I am instantly overwhelmed by the beauty. My camera too.

California is breathtakingly beautiful. The climate is almost perfect and the scenery feels like a hug. I understand why people want to live here. I reach San Francisco. The sun is shining, it’s foggy and about 15 °Celsius – I lose my heart here and now to the climate. But the cockiness is missing, maybe it’s the grueling days or the uncomfortable night on a malodorous seat or maybe I learned from the experience in New York and am afraid of the American dream and its abyss. And somehow I feel that the chasms in San Francisco are deep.

I walk through the waving streets, looking at the pastel-colored houses and seeking paths to the beach, the sea, I deeply yearn for. It is cool, the sun shines through the foggy sky, the Golden Gate Bridge digs into the fog. It is the first time that I can be alone on my journey. Time I can reflect and ponder. Somehow lost I take the 38 on Geary Street across San Francisco and rejoice in the creative food mergers. What failed as society works phenomenally in the food culture: The wild throwing together, without rules, without hierarchies, the cherry-picking, combining and optimizing the best ingredients. The Meltin ‚Pot still works excellent in the kitchen. I had so far: wasabi avocado cream, mango salsa, kimchi quesedillas, pretzel m & m’s, gorgonzola cheese with dark chocolate, perfect cupcakes (Magnolia’s in NYC and BigManBakes in LA), a much perfect New York Cheescake (see Ferrara Bakery, NY) with watermelon filled dumplings, Butterscotch Cream ice cream, eggs benedict crab cake, the perfect French toast with pecans, avocado salad with gorgonzola, cookie butter, vanilla and raspberry cashews and much more, making me ecstatic. (Gatorade tequila and celery juice I advise against it.) The approach to take something out of its context, combine it, optimize it and subordinate the whole to the goal of improving is a deeply neoliberal idea that belongs in the kitchen. Nowhere else.

I am able to share these thoughts in German, because I meet @ jbenno in San Francisco in a bakery where they actually sell good bread. It is a very nice meeting and I combine it with a visit to the hack space Noisebridge, which was recommended to me. I am nicely welcomed and shown around with the CCC flag on the wall. Quickly, I’m talking to those who have a similar passion for politics, as I am. The spacious room is dirty, full of corners with play and hack stuff. I know it, I feel good. The conversations are dominated by the disillusionment of the discussants, of labor and homelessness. San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the United States. One of the richest and at the same time full of poverty. Entire streets are dominated by homelessness, poverty and despair. Poverty shocked me deeply, in general. Not because it would be so ubiquitous. On the contrary. It is completely avoidable, ignorable. Yet it defines the major cities. Homelessness is as present as the outrageous wealth. Everywhere on the streets of New York, Seattle, Philadelphia and San Francisco people wear bags that have the value of small cars. Simultaneously on every street corner the despair is flashing in the eyes of those, whose life takes place in a cart.

This is based on the belief that hard work pays off. That there are people who have three jobs and still sleeping in a tent, is for many Americans no reason for resistance or even criticism of anything. The jobs are just too poorly paid, they say. Pick another, they say. Or become Rich Kid on Instagram. Today: a daughter, whose Daddy made his money in Barclays.

„The people are desperate. And they start getting mean. And bitter.“ says the screaming pretty retiree next to me on the bus on my way to Los Angeles. And I must admit that I almost missed the free spirit of San Francisco as it was praised to me. On the contrary I saw bitterness quite a lot. I am still surprised, despite the fact that those gloomy thoughts are still only what I read in all the books about the lie of the American dream. And yet I’m on my way to the final boss: Los Angeles.