This could be our chance to avenge the bola tie.
That iconic piece of Southwestern wardrobe — basically a leather shoelace with a tuquoise-studded clasp, spied around the necks of old-line male Arizona politicians — has receded into its place in the museum alongside the kachina, as West Coast business casual (which didn’t even require rudimentary ties) washed over the state.
The “Californication” of Arizona has taken innumerable other forms; red-tile Mediterranean-style roofs, spindly palm and eucalyptus trees, low-slung apartment buildings, highslung houses on small lots, strip malls supplanted by regional malls supplanted by “lifestyle centers,” and the surprisingly recent arrival of In-n-Out Burger and the late, great Krispy Kreme.
ADD SOME VALLEY FLAVOR
But our turn could be coming soon.
A July 10 Los Angeles Times article reported that California’s finance department predicts the state’s population will surge from today’s 34 million to almost 60 million in 2050, and the three fastest-growing counties will be Riverside, Imperial and San Bernardino — in other words, the desert that separates the Los Angeles and San Diego areas from southern Arizona.
John Husing, an economist who studies the so-called “Inland Empire,” told the Times that the Riverside area will grow toward the Coachella Valley, which includes Palm Springs. Currently rural areas will be eaten up by housing tracts which will look very familiar to us. “It’ll be desert urban, but it’ll be urban. Think of Phoenix,” he said.
Arizonafication, here we come.
We can start by trucking some of our displaced saguaros, organ pipes, ocotillos, and paloverdes to the lonely, homely Mojave desert. Our desert beats theirs any day of the week.
Of course, eventually the old-timers will start their own Mojave-pride type groups and try to eject the invasive species, but by that point they’ll be as loved and loathed as oleanders are here.
Harkins Theatres have already popped up in Moreno Valley and Chino Hills — that leaves room for about 200 more by the time that area’s built out. Might as well get Bashas’ going out there too — if something can be done about UFCW first.
Tex Earnhardt’s probably running out of places to expand here; Charter schools? BASIS Desert Hot Springs. Higher education? Northern Arizona University already has a presence in Yuma — how much weirder could it be for them to set up shop in Indio?
These people obviously need our help. On Tuesday, they clogged up onramps and intersections when they opened a new stretch of freeway in Rialto by letting vehicles, not pedestrians, bikers and strollers, roll onto it. Don’t they know anything about crowd control at these things? You gotta make people get out of their cars.
WE KEEP CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN
This could be a place where the bola could be cool again, along with some of the other institutions that have fallen by the wayside over the years.
Maybe once Sheriff Joe leaves office and needs to get in front of a camera again, he could star in “The New Wallace and Ladmo Show,” with Pat McMahon flying in every morning for the Gerald skit, or at least until KTAR needs him for that time slot again.
Phoenix doesn’t know what to do with Tovrea Castle — maybe Victor Valley will. Maybe they can do something with all those closed gas stations, too.
Oh, sure, we’ll let them keep some chunks of their identity; the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the Coachella Music Festival, maybe even some of the other things that don’t have Desert or Mountain or Ridge or Vista in the name.
And given California’s projected ethnic makeup in 2050, with Hispanic residents in the majority, we’d better not let Russell Pearce or Randy Pullen anywhere near the place. Of course, Arizona won’t be too far behind.
Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial counties are projected tohave 9 million people by 2050, more than live in Arizona now. Around that time, the cities will realize they need to create a sense of place and decrease traffic. And they will build the SkyTran that Mesa won’t.