California Journal, Part IV

(Photo: Gabrieldome/Dreamstime)
Anthropologists, singers, lemon trees, and more

Editor’s Note: Jay Nordlinger’s journal concludes today. The previous parts can be found at the following links: I, II, and III.

California State University, Fullerton, is the home of the Titans. I buy a cap — a baseball-style cap. There are many to choose from. I buy one with a simple “F,” for “Fullerton.” Very sharp (if I say so myself).

Today, I am talking with the College Republicans. They aren’t numerous — but they are wonderful. They are independent-minded and bold. They tell me that the campus is solidly left-wing. When you identify as a Republican, you do so at some cost.

I admire these students, and other such people, a great deal. It’s so easy to run with the herd. In fact, I often think that man is a herd animal. But that’s too big a subject for this journal.

One young woman is the head of Students for Life. (This would be an anti-abortion group.) Her, I especially admire. I tell her about a student I knew way back — he was an undergraduate when I was a grad student. He wore a pin depicting two little feet. It turned out, this was a pro-life symbol.

I thought he was just about the bravest hombre I ever met.

The College Republicans has a faculty adviser: a kind and interesting woman. She went to Berkeley. I recall another adviser to a College Republican group. This group was at Stetson University, in DeLand, Fla. You needed to have a faculty adviser to have an official group. The College Republicans could not find a Republican on the faculty. So, the chairman of the poli-sci department, a Democrat, volunteered to be their adviser.

That’s the spirit: a democratic and American spirit. I met this man. Admired him a lot.

At Fullerton, the students tell me about an incident on campus: During a protest and counter-protest, a member of the faculty hit a student — a conservative student. A member of the College Republicans.

“What does he teach?” I ask (referring to the hitter). Anthropology, is the answer. “Figures,” I say, with a snort.

Two years ago, I wrote an essay called “Majoring in Anthro: A lament for a field.” It was such a great field — one of the best, in my opinion. It attracted bright and interesting students, such as Saul Bellow. Then, anthropology was taken over by the flaky Left — not just the Left, which is one thing, but the flaky Left.

Anyway …

‐I was invited to speak to a Republican group in a different town — to speak at a luncheon of theirs. Then I was disinvited. Why? They learned I wasn’t a Republican. And their bylaws require that all speakers belong to the party.

Well, I belonged to the party from 1982, when I was a freshman in college, till last year. Does that count for nothing? Shouldn’t I have a little grace period or something? I was a Republican for a lot longer than Donald Trump has been! And, frankly, I still feel more Republican than many a Republican, I bet.

Anyway …

‐The traffic outside Los Angeles is horrendous, as I’ve discussed. It is true to its reputation. The hype about the traffic is not hype — it’s fact. But the traffic in L.A.? Once you reach the city? Sort of normal, as far as I can tell.


‐One boulevard is lined with banners depicting Sondra — Sondra Radvanovsky, the American soprano, who will sing Tosca in this town. She is a great singer, as I’ve argued in a number of pieces over the last few years. She was always a good one. But, somewhere along the line, she sneaked up on us and became a great one.


‐Here in L.A., I have the pleasure of an evening with the American Freedom Alliance. They are chaired by Karen Siegemund — a breath of fresh air. The whole evening is marked by good feelings.

Or maybe I should say good vibrations, seeing as we’re in California.

I give a talk called “Getting Around: Adventures in Journalism.” It is based on a recent collection of mine, Digging In. Bill Buckley once said to me, “You DO get around.” This was in an e-mail, after I’d written him from some far-flung place. To which you can only say: You should talk!

(Also, Bill often said to me, “Man, you write a lot.” To which the only answer is …)

In the Q&A, some people wonder, “What should one read? What can one trust? What media should you consume, to stay well informed?” That is a big, big question. I get it a lot. And I ask it a lot.

With these friends in L.A., I give a longish answer, which I won’t get into, here in my journal. But suffice it to say: Try to arrange a balanced diet. And, of course, there’s only so much time in a day!

‐The vice president of the American Freedom Alliance is Michael Greer — a lady (and a lovely one). We talk about Michael Learned. Do you remember her? Another lovely lady, who played Mrs. Walton on television.

‐Many years ago, I spent the night on the campus of UCLA. (No, not in a dorm room.) The next day, I went for a long walk in a nearby neighborhood. It was just about the most beautiful place of human habitation I had ever seen.

What do I mean, “place of human habitation”? Well, I’m talking about a residential area — not a national park or something like that.

I said to someone, “Where are we?” He said, with some amusement, “This is Bel Air!”

Ah. That explains it.

This time, I think of Goethe: Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn? Yes, I know a place where the lemon trees bloom: Bel Air, for one. The whole ’hood is a land of enchantment.

The Reagans moved here, post-presidency. You may remember that they were to move into 666 Saint Cloud Road. Mrs. R. didn’t like the number — so it was changed (by some city authority, I imagine) to 668. Just like that.

Thanks for joining me on this jaunt, y’all. California has a world of problems — like the rest of the world. But, at least in some respects, it is still California. Which is something.

Thanks again, and see you.

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