La Super-Rica

What about the people who are not trying to get rich?

I spent the weekend in Carpinteria, California. Less than ninety minutes from L.A., it puts you in a completely different headspace. With tall mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, this middle class place reminds you of nothing so much as the sixties, when we were all equal, when we were all in it together.

Assuming you don’t try to buy real estate.

But there’s a camping park. Carpinteria is egalitarian, it’s where the California dream still thrives. Where you’re three hours behind New York and couldn’t care less.

California summer is different from the east coast. There’s no humidity. You don’t sweat. It’s warm enough to not wear a jacket, although a sweatshirt might be necessary at night, still, it’s your best dream of summer come alive.

Driving up the 101 puts you in the mood.

After passing through Ventura the freeway hugs the ocean. Which seems like a desecration of the landscape, but allows you a view of the water, and the Channel Islands, and the drilling rigs. There’s nothing like it anywhere else, at least not in America. Mountains as tall as the Appalachians, but the snow never falls. You’re cruising along at 70 and you’ve got that bliss meditation promises, but your eyes are wide open.

Last night we went to Zookers, a local haunt with food so good I’d tell you to go, but my point here is as you get older these are the experiences you treasure. When you let go of trying to make your mark, when you realize you’re only here temporarily and you might as well let go, relax and float downstream, albeit with your mind still turned on. Good friends, good food, good stories, good laughs, that’s about as much as you can ask for in this life. You eventually find that out. When you can’t remember whether you’ve seen that band or not and you don’t want to see them now anyway, you just want to listen to the records, from when the members were still alive and they weren’t going through the motions, looking for cash, but burnishing their music in a quest to conquer minds and bodies, never forget, rock and roll runs on sex.

And we woke up early this morning to go to La Super-Rica, a Santa Barbara legend. Down the street from the County Bowl, the only other time I’d been there it had been closed.

Stephen insisted we get there before it opened. Just like he offered more than the asking price for his abode, he refused to endure the lines that snake after the 11:00 AM opening.

And despite finding a handful of people in front of us, despite there being a plethora of people behind us, the restaurant did not open at the appointed hour. It seemed to run on its own time. As if being a business was secondary.

The media is clogged with people getting rich.

Whereas real people know life is about living. That money is just grease, a conduit to experiences. And if you think you need a Ferrari, you’re not prepared for the carless society in the offing. Yes, not only will automobiles drive themselves, you’ll rent them when needed.

And I’d like to tell you a level playing field is in the offing, that income inequality will cease to exist, that no one will go to bed hungry and everyone will be able to pay their bills but the truth is nobody in America cares about anyone else, you’re on your own, struggle to establish a beachhead, but you don’t need an entire island, Larry Ellison doesn’t get to cut the line at La Super-Rica.

That’s right, before I left town I had dinner at Nobu. We were lucky to get a reservation, albeit inside, which is Siberia in Malibu. Everybody was dressed to the nines, at La Super-Rica, they were barely dressed at all.

No, that’s not true. But there was a plethora of flip-flops, and a  bunch of imperfect bodies, but everybody was smiling and no one was going anywhere. That’s right, at Nobu it’s about ascension, how can I climb to the top.

La Super-Rica is already there.

A legend, most of the food is under five bucks. I had the most expensive thing on the menu, and it was $6.80.

And everything is handmade, everything is unique. And unlike Chipotle, the food is not only fresh, but enticing. The dishes don’t look the same. The servers are not teens in the penalty box, but workers who love their gig, serving delicacies to the proletariat.

That’s what we are, the rest of us, who are not setting the world on fire. We are the workers keeping this country alive, we are the ones who make it work. Facebook would not exist without its users, Google either. We spend, we make the rich so. How come we have so little self-respect?

But when you can detach, go on a little vacation up the California coast, you gain some perspective.

You realize that we’re all looking for something unique, that we can tell each other about.

That our friends are our bank account.

And that if you find yourself a hundred miles up the California coast from L.A. you must stop at La Super-Rica, for the watermelon water if nothing else, you’ve never had anything like it.

There is no social media campaign.

Only word of mouth.

That’s all you need.

That’s all that counts.

I’m telling you now.

I’m worried. I wanna be happy.

And at 11:30 AM today, eating Chile Pasilla in the California sunshine, divining the tastes in the dish…

I was.

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