Frantic Fred's Travel Tips: California

by Miles O'Neal, Jetlag, Ltd.

California: the Farthest You Can Go From Reality Without a Passport

I wrote this as I was departing southern California. I shared a taxi to the airport with the flight crew for my flight; they were waiting to find out if the airline had declared bankruptcy. I'd been to northern California several times before; this trip finally put the whole state in perspective.

All hotel rooms are equipped with X rated channels, but the Disney Channel is illegal-- to protect the minds of children. Hotels don't have swimming pools; they have beaches or harbors, and volleyball pits instead of tennis courts. FrisbeeTM in the lobby is encouraged. Hotel porters may perform marriages and grant divorces. Adjoining rooms have common hot tubs; meeting your neighbor is not optional.

[Commercial] Like a clean but aged Greyhound SceniCruiserTM the 737 roars down the Long Beach runway and leaps into the sky, ecstatic to once again be out of the reach of earthquakes. Despite the fog, the runway is not littered with smashed vehicles like the freeway, thanks to the miracle of radar (or perhaps, considering the humidity, the miracle of sonar). Debbie speaks on the intercom.

``Thank you for flying American Pest. Please let us know if there's anything we can do for you. Massage, drug counseling, psychotherapy and channeling are all available at no extra charge. We're bankrupt, so we try harder.''

Crystals, it seems, serve two purposes here. The smaller ones are a source of income; they sell well to anyone willing to suspend belief in the principles of science. Larger ones are thrown through the windows of traditional churches (so maybe they aren't as prejudice-free as I thought. Hmmm.)

All homes in Southern California are required to have swimming pools. Because of the water shortage, hotels are not allowed to have swimming pools. Tourists, immigrants and other aliens should not, after all, be encouraged.

Large mountain and desert regions have been constructed in eastern California as a ``natural'' barrier. The rich topsoil of this region has been exported to central and northern California, where residents use it for their festive Annual Mud Slides. Competition is fierce, and although winners usually get enough money from the Federal Prize Authority to retire for life, most spend it on their next year's entry instead.

The much vaunted California Wine Industry was devastated by this forced soil relocation. Most wines currently labeled as California wines are now imported from Norway, who in conjunction with a company of former USSR nuclear waste disposal officials, makes these wines from the waters of the North Sea, giving the newer vintages a lovely glow at night.

[Commercial] ``Hi, this is Debbie again. Several of our passengers changed planes to Delta in that last cloud bank. This really had us bummed out, but we haven't thrown in the towel yet. We have several choices for those of you flying with Chapter 11 Airlines. In the aft seats, we have started a commune for those who want more commitment. Our pilot is back there right now, leading a vote on seceding from California.

``In the forward seats, we have an encounter group, led by our co-pilot. Suzie is in the cockpit keeping the computer company-- when it gets lonely we tend to end up in Nicaragua. Please, please, let us know how we can serve you better!''

[News Bulletin] ``We interrupt this travelog for an important announcement. American Pest has just successfully fought off a hostile takeover bid by a group of former Eastern Airlines managers. Several American Pest personnel were wounded in the skirmish, but no casualties are reported at this time.

``The takeover bid occurred on flight 263 en route from Long Beach to Phoenix. The captured Eastern commandos were given a last meal of salted peanuts and flushed out the aft lavatory. Polls of former Eastern flight personnel indicate unanimous approval of the executions.

``We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.''

The laws in California are among the most bewildering of any country frequented by USA travelers. For example, in the Los Angeles area, you cannot rent a car with a credit card in your spouse's name. Presumably this is because the average lifetime of a marriage in California is less than the duration of a non-union worker's lunch.

Car rentals can be made with a large cash deposit, but these transactions require 2 days notice-- apparently the length of time required to exchange foreign currency (``dollars'') for local currency (``crystals'').

Banks will only take checks if the signature on the check is on file at that local branch. Two drivers licenses are required to cash a check.

Taxes were frozen in the mid-seventies at 100%, compounded hourly. Revenues for new social programs, such as ``Free Cocaine for Street people'', must seek alternative funding. A typical method of funding such programs is described by the San Jose Chief of Police:

``We borrowed an idea that has worked well in rural areas of the Southern United States, where speed traps are common. Since speeds over 15 MPH are pretty rare out here, we decided to use parking traps.

``For instance, last December the city passed a resolution to provide a full library of Tom Clancy books for homeless, unwed, teenage mutant ninja mothers. So, one Sunday, at the start of a convention, we waited until all on-street parking in the area around the convention center filled up. As soon as the last space was filled, we put up signs on all the parking meters, announcing a parade four hours later, and then we had all the cars towed.

``Between the fines those foreign conventioneers paid, and the increased tax revenue from the towing companies, we were able to fully meet our target revenues.''

Last updated: 30 October 2007

Copyright 1993, 1997, 2007 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.

Miles O'Neal <> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514