Friday, June 22, 2012

He also surfs who only stands and waits

Shorter George Will:
When the Wilson brothers—Brian, Carl, Dennis, and James Q.—formed the Beach Boys in 1961, they represented exactly the same California spirit that made Ronald Reagan governor in 1967.
Didn't use to be that individualistic. Los Angeles beach, from UC Berkeley PlayGreen

Actually he doesn't say that James Q. Wilson belonged to the Beach Boys, but he doesn't deny it. And he doesn't mean to suggest that Californians were mentally ill when they voted for Reagan. He just quotes James Q. to the effect that the Californians of the time were totally alienated, every-man-is-an-island, Hobbesian atoms, but really really happy that way: Southern Californians had
“no identities except their personal identities, no obvious group affiliations to make possible any reference to them by collective nouns. I never heard the phrase ‘ethnic group’ until I was in graduate school....
“The Eastern lifestyle,” Wilson wrote, “produced a feeling of territory, the Western lifestyle a feeling of property... a very conventional and bourgeois sense of property and responsibility.”
I'd say it was that half the population was too stoned to vote—the half that had human connections, unfortunately—and I'd say that Brian would agree, at least if he could remember. And the Beach Boys had such a group affiliation that they were always referred to by a collective noun.

And I'll bet, moreover, that there were brown people within low-rider distance of whatever little-boxes suburb James Q. Wilson grew up in (he was from Denver, and went to college in Redlands, CA, to a Baptist school with compulsory religious services) that knew plenty about group identities, including the ethnic group James Q. himself belonged to (the ethnicity that dare not speak its name!).
Take that, Dr. Turk! Nobody disrespects the Beach Boys around me.


  1. Love the "ethnicity that dare not speak its name"

  2. Hi Gerald, and thanks. The big question is did you like the Smiley Smile track?