Another kind of California playlist

We Californians tend to get a little starry-eyed when we talk about our home state, hung up on the reward of living in a coastal paradise instead of the harsher reality.

This optimism (or deliberate ignorance, depending on your vision) is reflected in the California playlist we’ve compiled over the past few years. A few of the more than 200 tracks nod to mixed feelings about Golden State, but the package of songs mostly serves as an ode to a land of beauty and opportunity. (Think Best Coast’s cheerful anthem “The Only Place” or “California Dreamin ‘” by Mamas & the Papas.)

So today I am launching a new playlist dedicated to ambivalence, if not outright contempt, for California. I was inspired by your emails, many of which contained big and small stories about ways California can make you feel awful.

There are the looming tragedies – the fires we run from and the homes we can not afford. And the more personal ones – our losses and our loneliness – that unfold here and cast a hard glow against the backdrop of California.

The new playlist includes Dave Alvin’s “California’s Burning” and Death Cab for Cutie’s “Grapevine Fires” – self-explanatory. I’ve also added Tori Amos’ “A Sorta Fairytale” where a couple takes a walk up the Pacific Coast Highway and discovers that they are not meant for each other. There’s also Marc Cohn’s ballad “Lost You in the Canyon” with this repeated chorus: “Do you ever stop to marvel at the paradise you have found?”

You can read the full list of California nightmare songs here or listen here.

This soundtrack is, of course, an ongoing work that we will continue to edit and build. You can email your song recommendation and a few lines about why you think it deserves inclusion to

And now for more of your recommendations for the new playlist:

“Walk in LA” by Missing Persons (1982)

“With former members of Frank Zappa’s band, the song comically gives a statement about how everyone is in their cars. If anyone really goes, it must be an illusion or an extreme situation.” – James Staubes, Culver City

Drive”By Halsey (2015)

“I drive long hours on crowded highways, filled with everything from overly expensive Teslas to overly modest Toyota Corolla from the last century, all in a hurry to get a job in LA to try to make enough money there to buy a home in the remote suburb I drive in from.

All I do is drive, often on the 405, all to create a home for myself that is virtually unattainable here. And nothing feels better than when I’m on the open road, away from it all, a road that often leads me away from here.

Precisely for this reason, I believe that ‘Drive’ by Halsey represents the ‘golden’ state as it is now: a state of two realities made up of those who can enjoy how golden it is and those who do not. can afford it. ”- Harris Valle, Camarillo

“California About Everything” by Dead Kennedys (1979)

“I remember hearing this song for the first time when I was in high school in the Bay Area, and it made me question ‘California’s superiority,’ while it was also strangely inspiring, a punk rock call for not to let ‘suede denim police’. ‘Zen fascists’ destroy the state. The song came out in 1984 and predicted a lot of California’s current ‘un-sunny’ side. So foresighted. ” – Parker Ray, New York City

Too hot in LA”By Woody and Jeremy (2020)

“This song perfectly encapsulates the feeling of a summer heat wave in LA; the lyrics talk about cynicism and irritability, but the melody is so optimistic that you can not help but have fun while listening to it. To me, it evokes memories of me buying an XL Slurpee and getting half of it to melt on the three-quarter walk back to my friend’s apartment, or to sit in the traffic on the 5th on the way to a concert in a car with AC that only half works. “– Berkelly Gonzalez, Berkeley

Gnocchi made with cauliflower and potato.

Today’s tip comes from Bruce Cranston, who recommends a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which is considered the world’s largest rotating tram:

“Like a transplant to Southern California that misses my native Montana mountains and desert, I enjoy the extraordinary, above-ground experience of taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway from the desert floor all the way up to the top of Chino Canyon for a lookout at Mount San Jacinto at 8,000 feet in less than 10 minutes, the desert landscape quickly disappears among the rugged cliffs of the gorge, and in a quick, breathtaking ride up one of the most rugged, rock-filled and striking gorges imaginable, you come to a pleasant stop in fully alpine surroundings.

Even today, in late April, there are snow caps on the mountains above, and visitors can not resist walking in the refreshingly cool alpine air along a pleasant flat path through the wooded paradise just 300 feet from the visitor center at the top of the tram. The giant Jeffrey pine trees tower over the shady, walk-friendly valley, where there is plenty to do and see, and it is a true paradise for hikers with all kinds of trails available. Every now and then, you might see some hikers taking the Pacific Crest Trail, making a small diversion from their path to enjoy this valley.

This cable car is extraordinary in every sense of the word. From desert landscape to mountain landscape in just eight minutes. It’s literally a world unthinkable when you look up at this mountain from the desert floor. “

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We will share more in upcoming issues of the newsletter.

Ready, set, shoot!

One of the world’s largest social science events, the City Nature Challenge, returns today for its seventh year – and invites you to start taking pictures of your local flora and fauna.

If you have not heard of the challenge: In 2016, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences dreamed of the event as a competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

People in each city would take pictures of plants and animals in their area, and the museums would then help identify the species to better understand the biodiversity of each region. That year alone, more than 20,000 observations were made and 1,600 species cataloged.

The City Nature Challenge quickly became international, and now thousands of people from six continents participate each year. And so can you.

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