Tortilla Flat is fascinating because Steinbeck took the mythical King Arthur and put him in the body of a simple man in Tortilla Flat, CA. i do not think that I would have made the link to the Arthurian legend without the preface. However, being aware of these underlying themes gives the book a more dynamic perspective–it is easier to the honor that the friends live with and how there is a beauty in the simple things. Although Arthurian legend is of a king’s court there is a simplicity in the way of life, you live and die by your honor, that translates beautifully in the modern life of these Californians.
So far, Tortilla Flat is incredibly bizarre and ridiculous! I mean every time Pilon and the others have the means to pay Danny they just make up excuses until they finally reach the conclusion that drinking wine is the best option–every time! I mean they burn the house down because they forgot to put out a flame and the lesson they learn is “never to leave wine in a house overnight” (41). The extremes of these characters are staggering, but it is entertaining and one of my motivate to continue reading.
Another thing that is interesting is Danny’s dread of owning property. He is much happier to be napping in the woods wig his jug of wine than be the owner of two homes and be forced to take responsibility of his property: “when they are broken you become sad. it is much better never to have had them” (15). He would rather live without than be forced to accept the loss of something you once were responsible for.
The bound of friendship is interesting so far. At the surface level these men seem to just be using each other–Danny only talks to Pilon at first because he has liquor and Pilon talks his way into Danny’s home but does not pay. However, there seems to be something more to their friendship, and characters, that I cannot quite pinpoint yet. I am interested to see how the Arthurian legend plays into this novel and how the characters reveal themselves.
I loved Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “I Am Waiting”. It is such a beautiful poem that just begs to read aloud. It feels almost simple in the first read but the power it evokes is simply breathtaking.
The structure is interesting because he chose to keep all of the lines short, which gives a sense of urgency–you cannot wait to get to the next line, which is ironic since he is waiting. The only thought that is completed in one line is “I am waiting”.
What is Ferlinghetti waiting for? I think he is waiting for the opportunity that the California Dream has promised millions. I feel like he realizes that the promise of a second chance does not always turn out the way the myths suggest. He ends the poem with “and I am waiting/perpetually and forever/a renaissance of wonder” which proves that he knows that the wonder he is searching for will never come to him.
I love the power and wonder I feel everything I read it or hear it read. It is one of those poems I just want to commit to memory because it reads so smoothly.
I love the city and take any chance I can to visit, but out of the many times I have been I have only seen a small number of the sites from this trip. This was my first time at Caffe Trieste! Which is incredibly surprising with how much I love coffee and North Beach. I loved the feel of the place before I even walked in–there where a couple groups of people sitting outside enjoying their coffee. Although I did not get anything to eat there their baked goods looked delicious!
Again, for how much I go to North Beach and how much I love books this was my first time to City Lights. I feel like this is nearly a crime! Especially how famous it is and how I prefer smaller bookshops compare to Barnes & Noble.
The bookshop was brilliant! Three floors of books, what could be better? I love that you can tell it is a privately owed shop just by walking around on the squeaky floor boards. The smell is just so overwhelmingly that of a bookstore–paper. Not only where the books fascinating but the decorations where too! They all spoke of a local community–cork boards for post your favorite author or advertising the next rap contest and posters and postcards pasted across little wall space not taken over by the books and their shelves.
Although we did not have much time to explore anything else in North Beach or China Town, it was fun it just walk down the streets and watch as people rushed by us with an empty smile plastered on their faces for the other passerby. They really were the friendly that can postpone WW3 as Del Amitri suggests the people in California act.
The Maltese Falcon tour was long but interesting. Although I did enjoy stopping in the pulp shop, my favorite part was at the end of the tour near the “spot Miles Archer, partner of Sam Spade, was done in by Brigid O’Shaughnessy.” I love the sign that holds this quotes because it was the only sign on the tour that did not say that this is from a work of fiction–if someone did not know the novel or movie they would probably be extremely concerned or if they were not finished with the book they would receive quite the spoiler. But the best part was as Mr. Herron was describing the murder he pulled out a Nerf gun shot one of us!
Even though we spent most of the day in the city it felt like we had no time at all there. It was a wonderful way to end our adventure in Sam Spade’s world, but now it is time to go back to our own since the “beams” have stopped falling.
- The Thrills are from Dublin, Ireland. Everclear is from Portland, Oregon. Chuck Prophet is from Whittier, California. Notorious B.I.G. is from New York.
- All four songs have a narrative. “Santa Monica” and “Summertime Thing” are both songs I would expect to hear on the beach in Southern California—they both exhibit the laid back attitude SoCal is known for.
- “Santa Cruz” has a melancholy tone to it—the repetition of “oh Santa Cruz/no, you’re not that far” is where this tone really shines through. “Going Back To Cali” is completely different from the other three songs from its introduction to its genre.
- “Santa Cruz” shows that not everything turns out great like the myths seem to promise and how California can take everything you have. But it also shows that no matter how your dreams turn out the landscape it still a promise within itself. “Santa Monica” explores how California, with its sunny beaches, can be an escape: “leave the fire behind/swim out past the breakers/watch the world die/we can live beside the ocean.” California holds the promise of a new start and Everclear grab a hold of that idea in this song. California, specifically Southern California, holds summertime to a different set of rules than the rest of the year—Chuck Prophet shows this relaxed mentality in “Summertime Thing”. “Going Back To Cali” shows the good time that California always offers those who look for it.
- “Santa Monica” is my favorite song from this selection because it reminds me of the people that come to my hometown. It embodies the feeling that many of my out of state friends say when they come to Redondo Beach. The music is also fun to listen to and sing-a-long to.
1. The Dresden Dolls are from Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Dog is from West Grove, Pennsylvania. Josh Ritter was born in Moscow, Idaho. Wolf Parade is from Canada.
2. None of the artists are from California. Both songs named “California” take more of a romantic approach to describe the state. While “Shores of California” and “California Dreamer” are harsher in their descriptions–whether it be about their experience in or because of the state.
3. All of the songs have a different sound.The Dresden Dolls’ “Shores of California” is easy to listen to. Her voice is almost breathy as she is singing which gives the song a weird and fun vibe to it. I felt calm and peaceful while listening to “California” by Dr. Dog; it reminded me of a song sung around a campfire or on the log ride at Disneyland. However, Josh Ritter’s “California” sounded heartbreaking yet sweet; it is a simple and beautiful arrangement. Wolf Parade’s “California Dreamer” sounds like it came from a dream–it feels almost chaotic.
4. The California that Dr. Dog is singing about is the home that the heart longs for: “true love in your heart/like a flame in the dark.” While Josh Ritter sings of the promise that the myth claims he is longing for the love he left behind. “California Dreamer” takes the side of the left behind–it depicts what is left behind when people pack up and move to California to fulfill their dreams that the sunny state starts. I am a little stuck on what the Dresden Dolls are trying to say about California in “Shores of California”–do they blame California for setting this behavior as the status quo, are they saying that California is just like Minnesota and Oklahoma, or are they saying that California is nothing like those two states?
5. Josh Ritter’s “California” speaks to me the most because of the beautiful music and the heartbreaking promise that is left on the line: “no don’t cry/I’ll bring the sun to shine/in your eyes/on your shoulders.” I also love the line “I’m alone but I’m not lonely” because I am used to hearing songs about the opposite–how people feel so alone i a crowd full of people.
- The Mamas and the Papas were formed in New York. Nellie McKay was born in London but started her career in New York. Joni Mitchell is from Canada. Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) is from El Cerrito, CA. Conor Oberst is from Omaha, NE.
- “Sausalito”, “California Dreamin”, and “California” all focus on California as a dream to get away from where they are. All of the songs, except for “Lodi”, are performed by artists that are not native Californians.
- The attitude in each song is different, even if they are giving a similar message. The music gives each song a different feeling when I listen to each one.
- “California Dreamin” makes me feel the deep longing that California brings when “skies are gray.” This song shows that even though California is a dream it is not a realistic dream—they were not really planning on going. While, “California” shows that in all of the world California is the place to be. I am not completely positive I got the message in “Pasadena Girl”, but I think it is trying to expose the loss of identity that occurs in California. “Lodi” shows the struggle that millions have gone through—people flock to California in order to make it big but end up with nothing to show for their sacrifices except empty pockets. “Sausalito” holds the hope and belief that California fixes all problems: “there’s no sorrow that the sun’s not gonna heal.”
- My favorite song from this bunch is “California Dreamin.” I think it might be because I have performed it numerous times since middle school, but I love that California is the thought that keeps people warm on a cold winter’s day in New York.
- Tupac is from East Harlem. Led Zeppelin is from London. The Weekend is from is from Canada. The Decemberists are from Portland, Oregon.
- All four songs are performed by non-native Californian artists. Every song offers an outsider’s impression and/or experience with California.
- Tupac seems to relish in the party life that California offers—it is the only California he sees. Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” feels hopeful—they were aware that the girl they were searching for probably did not exist but they hoped that their dream would come true: “standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams,/ Telling myself it’s not as hard, hard as it seems.” However, “California” shows a love-sick girl with only her lover on her mind. The Weekend’s “California” is resentful because of the distance between her and her love—California is not only where he is but that “sweet” hope where dreams “have” to come true. Unlike the other three, “Los Angeles, I’m Yours” is a dark take on the party scene in Los Angeles: “how I abhor this place/ its sweet and bitter taste/ has left me wretched, retching on all fours/ Los Angeles, I’m Yours.”
- Tupac shows the fun California “that knows how to party.” Led Zeppelin exposes that the dream of California is not what the myths promise it to be, no matter how hard we wish for it to be true. For The Weekend, California is the place to be because of the promise of her love. However, “Los Angeles, I’m Yours” shows the dark and dirty things of California, “the smell of burnt cocaine,” yet they surrendered to the power and draw of California because of the claim “Los Angeles, I’m yours.”
- My favorite song from this group is Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” because it still holds the hope that lives inside dreams even though reality is close enough to taste. I also love how calming the music is for the song.
- Rogue Wave is from Oakland. R.E.M. is from Athens, Georgia. Rufus Wainwright was born in New York but grew up in Canada. Del Amitri is from Glasgow, Scotland.
- All four of the songs address how California myth differs from the reality. Rogue Wave claims California is “like a holiday tree in the summer;” the opportunity that California provides is not what people dream of, which leaves them with a bitter taste.
- The tone and emotions each song evokes are different. Rogue Wave’s “California” feels very restless, the pauses in between the lyrics make me want to leave and find something new. “I Remember California” makes me feel restless too but it has more of a psychedelic vibe to it. In Wainwright’s “California, I feel the disappointment he feels from the overwhelming ridiculousness of L.A. culture—he would rather sleep then be surrounded by the “sea of neon/ thousand surfers, whiffs of Freon” the L.A. oozes. Del Amitri’s “Another Letter Home” is the most entertaining of the four songs. The group seems to understand that California is not what it promises to be: “paradise is only a point of view.” The song is the most brutal on the life in California because it is the most accurate of real life.
- Rogue Wave addresses how the dreams the myths promise do not always come true—this could be reflective of the head of band losing his job in the dot-com bust. “I Remember California” reveals that not everything is as it seems and that people need to take off their rose tinted glass because “progress fails pacific sense.” California may be the “end of the continent” but it is not the last hope as myth suggests. Wainwright exposes the superficial life of L.A. and how the society bombards everyone. “Another Letter Home” also exposes the superficial attitude in California, “the bill for the dentist as big as the smile,” but there is a humor and understanding that allows the listener to accept that California is just another place once you get past the sunshine and toothpaste.
- Rogue Wave’s “California” speaks to me the most because it expresses the frustration I have with California and makes want to move and do something. I know I will probably never leave California but this song speaks to my need to leave—the simplicity of the music is consuming when I listen.
I am still a little confused what the meaning of the novel is. Is is just another crime book? Is it explaining that people tend to stick to their routine, like the man in Spade’s story? Is is about authenticity and truth?
In class we talked a lot about the authenticity of the characters and plot. This discussion is interesting to me because what is authentic in this novel? We spent a fair amount of time talking about Brigid’s “love” for Spade. I am mostly split on my feelings about that relationship. I feel like her feelings for him are as authentic as the falcon is–something is there but it is not the real thing and just formed from deceit. I do not care what she claims, most of what passes her mouth is a lie anyway, she does not go back to Spade until she finds out the fat man is in town. She refuses to answer Spade’s questions and just distracts him with her ploy of innocence or her love. However, it is possible that some feelings formed but if they do exist I believe them to be more of a fondness for Spade than love for the P.I..
In #3, I talked about how the story Spade tells Brigid might be his explanation of how things are going to play out in the end and after finishing the novel and re watching the film I believe that is true. He hands Brigid over to the police because that is what is expected of him–to honor his deceased partner and be true to his moral compass. He bent some of his morals on the hunt for the bird but he quickly fell back into the routine he always lives as soon as his “beams” stopped falling.
Is there more to the novel than this? Or is it just meant to be a good read? I do not have the answer right now so I guess I need to go watch the movie a couple more times or pick up the book again and see if I find anything new.