So Long, California—Thanks For The Memories!


About six weeks ago, I received an e-mail from my
California
reader-friend Bob
who wanted to know how I was enjoying

Pittsburgh`s December weather
.

For his part, Bob told me that he had spent his day biking along

Newport Beach
, sipping
iced tea
and making new friends of the
opposite
sex
.

Of course, Bob was giving me a hard time. He knew full well that
Pittsburgh temperatures hadn`t been out of the single digits in
days.

But Bob`s e-mail reminded me of another one that I received
while I still lived in Lodi.

Reader Nancy wondered how much
time elapsed on any given day between the moment I left home and
the instant I first set eyes on an illegal alien.

Here was my reply to Nancy:

“Well, it depends what the season is. During the

winter months
as long as three minutes may go by. I drive
off, make a few loops out of my neighborhood, and turn into the
Mini-Mart where I`ll see several illegal immigrants filling up.

“But in the summer, I may spot one in less than three seconds.
I`ll open the door and right down the street someone is
mowing a
lawn
or

tearing down a roof
.”

Although I didn`t quote my answer to
Nancy

verbatim to Bob, I did remind him that climate is only one
ingredient in the
quality
of life
. And I added that as much as I miss

California`s beaches
and what they symbolize, during the
seven months that I`ve resided in Pittsburgh, I`ve only seen
a
handful of individuals
who may be living here illegally.

Days—perhaps weeks—pass without sighting a single alien.

The change is

refreshing and energizing
.

Several factors prompted my decision to leave
California

where, as one of only a small handful of native-born residents,
I remember the Golden
State

back when.

Highest among them is that, after more than
twenty
years of teaching
in the
Lodi
Unified School District

and watching
California
`s demographics rapidly shift
toward what will soon be a Hispanic majority, I was disgusted
and worn out.

The insistence by school bureaucrats, government hacks and
ethnic identity activists that we all celebrate diversity even
though it had been
shoved down
our throats
mostly through illegal immigration became
intolerable.

Today, I look back at
California

with

enormous sadness
.

Illegal immigration`s

stranglehold
on
California

politics remains beyond comprehension. With the state struggling
with a

$42 billion budget deficit
, illegal immigration is still an
all but unmentionable subject.

In my Lodi News-Sentinel

column
this week
,
I wrote about my former Lodi Unified School District teaching
colleagues fired because of the

state`s budget crisis
. A friend who teaches physical
education is circulating flyers to raise awareness among parents
that she hopes will save her job. Yet, billions in services for
illegal aliens continue virtually uninterrupted. [Lodi
Unified Will Issue 390 Lay-Off Notices to Teachers
,
by
Jennifer Bonnett,
Lodi
News-Sentinel,
February 18, 2009
].

This is California in the present
day—your child may not have music, science or gym classes, but

instruction for English Learners goes on
. And you damn well
better
celebrate it
too!

In the
Los Angeles
that I grew up in, people felt
lucky
and proud
to be part of the community. The same held true
for Lodi,
referred to in 1986 when I moved there as “lovable, livable Lodi.”

Now Los
Angeles is a mess
—more

Mexico than America
. Those whose professions keep them
anchored in Los Angeles would love to
trade
places
with me—the Southland`s sunny climate not
withstanding.

In Lodi the Hispanic
population has soared to

35 percent
according to 2007 census data. Non-Hispanic
whites and African-Americans make up 38 percent of the school
district`s enrollment. As a result,
Lodi
`s old-timers can

barely recognize
their city.

Compare Los Angeles and Lodi to All-American Pittsburgh where
the concept of California life is beyond comprehension.

When you walk around downtown
Pittsburgh
, you may run into Steelers`
owner Dan
Rooney
. If you recognize him—and he`s so inconspicuous you
may not—he`ll be happy to talk football with you.
Super
Bowl champion
Steelers` coach

Mike Tomlin
lives in
Pittsburgh
. You won`t find him in
Florida,
Arizona
or any other
warm
weather
refuge.

The city`s most popular restaurant is
Primanti Brothers—not
some in vogue fusion cuisine sashimi joint like
Koi
where your
total entrée
weighs eight ounces. Primanti`s serves

mile-high meat sandwiches
piled with French fries and
coleslaw stacked between the bread.

The

Pittsburgh Pirates
are just that—the Pittsburgh Pirates. The
Pirates don`t offer

“Mariachi Night”
and

Iron City
, not

Tecate
, is the beer of choice at the ballpark.

We don`t have a Spanish language Latino night like

“viva los Dodgers”
,
co-hosted by the
Los Angeles
baseball team and
Mechista Mayor
Antonio Villagraigosa
.

Pirate entertainment centers on the
Great
Pierogi Race
. (Watch one
here.)
The announcers call the competition in

Pittsburghese
, an American dialect unique to
Western Pennsylvania
. At these events, everyone
speaks English.

The pierogi,
for those who don`t know, is ethnic food
Pittsburgh

style. Take dumplings formed from unleavened dough and stuff
them with cabbage or mashed potatoes. Then boil them and you`ll
have a stick-to-your-ribs treat straight out of

a Polish cookbook
. (Aside: pierogis taste better than they
sound.)

If my affection for
Pittsburgh

sounds silly, then you haven`t been pounded over the head for
twenty years about the wonderfulness of

diversity
and how
California

would be

nothing
without immigration. And you most certainly haven`t
had to
remind yourself
repeatedly
as you look
around t
hat you are in fact actually still living in the
United States

The sad truth is that although
I have
many friends
and happy reminiscences of my California life, I may never return. Seeing
the state in its current irredeemable state of
disrepair
would be too heartbreaking.

I still own
my Lodi
home
and as absentee landlord I might have to visit. But I
hope I don`t.
The house
in which I lived two decades is a now major sore spot for me. My
solidly middle class neighborhood is

devastated
by the

minority mortgage meltdown.

Consecutively,
two
minority, no-money-down, sub-prime owners
occupied the house
directly next door. In between owner number one and number two,
the home stood vacant for nearly a year. The second owner, upon
taking possession, never mowed his lawn let alone paint or put
on a new roof. Now, falling apart, it is empty again.

As with other
similar
houses
in the neighborhood, values have plunged. Long-time
owners are bewildered about how it all happened—and why it
happened so quickly. If I were still there, I could

explain it
to them. But would they understand that
immigration
pandering gone wild
cost them hundreds of thousands of home
equity value?

Saying good-bye to California where I was born, spent my youth
and—after leaving and coming back again—thrived during my middle
years is tough. Yet

what choice
do I have? The
California

I loved is

ancient history
.

Of course, California`s story could
have ended
happily
. But why rehash everything that`s
gone
wrong
? All of it is well-trodden turf, too familiar to
everyone.

Looking ahead while being thankful for my great
California

years will serve me better than repeating a litany of things
that might have been.

For now, I`ll content myself with my new life in
immigration-free Western Pennsylvania, counting down the days
until spring and waiting for my California income tax rebate
(reportedly it may be
in
I.O.U. form
) to arrive in my mail box.

Joe Guzzardi
[email
him]
is a California native
who recently fled the state because of over-immigration,
over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He
has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the
growth rate stable.
A
long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School,
Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It
currently appears in the


Lodi News-Sentinel.