Too Carlsbad for Words

Batiquitos Lagoon

Train station

Train station

I don’t listen to the cops,

I wish they all were dead.

— The Dils, “Sound of the Rain," by longtime Carlsbad residents Chip and Tony Kinman

Do as I do, do exactly as I do and load up, gas up, check coolant, tires, oil, bring along someone you love, like or at least c’n stand being with for 48 hours (consec.), get on 5, drive, get off at Elm Ave. at 2:30, 3:00 on a Friday p.m., go west till it ends, park, unload, lock and check into room two five oh of the Ocean Manor Motel. Fully open curtains, ogle the fantastic sea view, piss, flush, unpack and go down for a drink. But before you go drink go and check out the beach, down the railed three- or four-leveled stairway afringe with flowering ice plants, over pebbles as large as your fist to the sandy strip (narrow) dissolving in seamist to far left and right, note the bearded old cuss in the bathrobe with two empty teacups, the bracing aroma of ocean and whatwhat, whatsthis... izzit sewage? Seepage? Something seeping from a pipe, a drain, dribbling a stream under pebbles to sand ...go investigate. But your partner’s socks feel wrong, she mus’ change and change now to the more comfy “walking kind” — back to roomsville.

As she’s changing don’t forget to see a great big pelican fly by, left to right, tell her, “Look — a pelican,’’ then she looks and it’s gone — “Sure it wasn’t a seagull?’’ Listen to the airconditioner hum, um, there is none — notice overhead fan — ’tis the Sound of Sea, no escaping it. Then you realize you ain’t hid your cash yet, so hide it. Hide it deep in the bran flakes you’ve brought to assist in your unending fight with the dread Constipation. Although I don’ know, maybe that’s not a great place — not finding money can work up a hunger, they’ll open the cupboard, say, “Fuggit, let’s have some flakes”— but then money’s not everything, walking is, so get out and walk, walk, it’s good for the heart, lungs and pancreas.

Go north a ways up Carlsbad Blvd. — briskly — to Fisherman’s Supply Center, peek but don’t go in, 10,000 rods at stiff attention, right on Grand, past the bus stop at which wait weary Hispanics in work duds & ball caps to Ralph and Eddie’s Card Room — Lo-Ball & Pan — Cocktails, Entertainment. ’Cept for battered old rugs on the wall — rugs?? — and a threesome of oldos in the card room per se, it’s anybar, any youth person bar, you’ve ever been in. Young Friday bozos on barstools, bartender no more than 30, ultraloud juke, tape or disc, contempo-anonymous rockroll etcetera. Get a couple Buds, Bud Lights, that seems like, wait, no, on tap, Miller Genuine Draft, okay, make it two Millers. Drink up, tip the guy a buck, no, less, scram, proceed to the station.

Station? Train, you dumb tourist, Amtrak. Follow the tracks, you can’t miss it. A neat but not natty middle aged couple — a fine pair o’ "squares" — will greet you, hand you a mint copy of the latest issue of Carlsbad Mag, a fine hunk of slick, direct your attention to a chalkboard on which appear TIMES (approx.) at which trains en route from Del Mar to Oceanside, or Oceanside to Del Mar, will pass, NOT STOP, as no train has stopped here since 1957. Within seconds, voil&, toot! toot! — though the station clock, correct, says oh NO it couldn’ be. "Might be a freight," sez your unruffled host/male, everyone wait, fidget... "Yes! here’s our freight now" — wouldn’t you know. "Be sure to catch the Showstoppers" — catch ’em if you know what’s good f’r you— "kind of like Up With People, inspiring, at the mall at six" — write that down.

Time’s a-wasting, better eat quick, soon, go to that eyesorish fake? restored? neo-Victorian uggle at Elm and Carlsbad with one, two, three flags (U.S., Canada, Calif.; no Mexico), get there so early, so quick, they have no other choice but to turn you away — no dinner till five. Twelve minutes to kill, walk, keep walking, admire the kittens, piggies and puppies in antique-store windows, ceramic mini-mammals, metal mammals — the town’s lousy with ’em — and in a joint called How Wood You Like It?, wood mammals (including whales). On a phone pole: LOST CAT — REWARD — $100 — be sure ’n’ jot the number: career opportunities in today’s Carlsbad!

Plaza Camino Real

Plaza Camino Real

Return to the uggle, Neiman’s, circle and search but not too hard for any previously invisible Mex flags, find none, consider the absence strange but not too strange, enter, be seated, take in the decor. Approve of the revealed "gazebo-like" structure of the high wooden ceiling, snicker at the proffered assortment of crayons and paper tablecloth, register genuine surprise upon sighting no (as rumored) Leroy Neiman graphics, sneer at cloth flowers (yellow, white) that do look real combined with nonflowering leafgreen realies, have severely divided opinions ’bout the taped sappy music. Order (you: shark, an Anchor Steam; she: monkfish, chardon-nay), get served, eat, review aloud as follows: shark: “Moist, okay"; monkfish: “I like it. It’s reminiscent, urn, has a definite pseudo-lobster feel to it. But I like the potatoes most, the red skins. I’m using sauce on them instead of on the fish. And the salad is excellent." Debate, also as follows, the nature of the orange-ish mash left relatively untouched on each plate: “Carrots?" “Could be soap." “Soup?" “Not bad soap, good soap." “I think it’s squash." Draw ants together in orange and black until the check comes, sigh at the piercing unexpected sound of a lonesome train whistle, when the piano player comes on, leave.



Get the car, check your map, can’t do this on foot, Carlsbad’s only mall (as such) is too far to hoof it, too long a trek with a Showstoppers show on the line. Don’t speed though, buckle up, en route you’ll meet streets with prez names — Washington, Roosevelt, Madison, Jefferson, Harding, Monroe — did someone say Harding? — then finally, short drive, Plaza Camino Real. Park, unbuckle, rush, you don’t wanna miss a note or step by these fannnntastic sillysillies from Valley Jr. High — they grow ’em silly early in Carl’s Bad, or so it would seem. And the growers, dig them: moms/dads with a certain grimly manicured, overmanicured, OK, call it what it ’tis, an unmistakable ORANGE COUNTY MIEN if you know what I mean. First whiff, first trace you’ve encountered of O.C. so far (may it only be the last — knock wood!) — lifeless life preparing for deathless death —in San Diego County, who’d’ve believed? Stop believing & watch the show, the ’Stoppers, carefully watch and be glad you ain’t them, yowee!, not even friends (just fam’ly) would attend such a grand hokeroo. “Baby Face’’ w/ lotsa jumping— up down around — withhold your applause as this is some my-t-lame “shit." It pays not to encourage such whatsafugga — babes in tinsel auditioning for 1946 June Allyson pics — it does, it really does. So run do not walk, SCRAM from the premises (and never come back).

At which point you’ll need a dwink so get a dwink, go dwinking. Scoot back t’ Ocean Manor, park, go up for some bran bucks, which haven’t been stole yet, “It works,” says your consort, whose idea it was in the first place. At the Alley on Grand she asks the barkeep: “Is Campari good for your stomach?" “I’d have a blackberry brandy," he says, she thinks a sec, then has one. Jameson’s for you, straight, but even with you can’t forget the mall men. Fathers more painted-looking than mothers, you think, made from the same material as manikins. Man-i-kin, kin to man, but kin as well to — “Bartender,” she says, interrupting your inner b.s., “this is sticky,” meaning her glass, which he diligently, surgically removes the yick from, but obsessed she requests a brand new glass and gets one. Same brandy. “Where you from?” asks a seated bystander who has witnessed this sequence. “The reason I ask,” she says, and you’ll be glad to hear it, “is people come here and I tell them it’s not La Jolla, not-Rancho Santa Fe, this is more country. Here you should expect dirty glasses.”

Mine is clean though — whoops — yours is. Spotless. Broad, a realtor, tells you she’s “not trying to sell you something, but it’s a nice town. I’ve been here four years. This bar used to be just this section here” — the size/shape of your closet turned sidevyise; now it’s the size of your 8-car garage — “the only entrance was there. Which is how they named it the Alley.” The everhorrible “Wind in My Wings,” vocal by whoever the fuck, comes over the juke. “Oh, that song!” chirps your guide to things Carlsbad. “My daughter sang it at open house. It was her way of saying, you know, parental love and support — that’s the wind in her wings. It brought tears to my eyes.” “Did you see the movie?” asks your brandied paramour. “Which movie?” "Beaches. Bette Midler sings it.” “Ooh, I’ll have to rent it.” You haven’t seen it and never will. Struggling with the gloppiness of her beverage itself, Brandy beseeches the bartender for water — “I was wondering when you’d get around to that.” While he’s still there the Alley’s luckiest mom asks: “Have the Newhoffer” — Newhauser? Dewhauser?— “twins been in lately?” “Didn’t you hear? I kicked them out for fighting, had to ban them. Hennessey’s has banned them too.”

Your cue to split for Hennessey’s, where’s Hennessey’s?, don’t ask, y’won’tfind, stumble upon and settle for Dooley’s instead, Dooley McCluskey’s. Settle in, settle over a tall, cool 22-oz. black & tan in a beerglass the size of your beagle, enough for both of you. If it was Happy Hour, but ’tain’t so fug-git, you’d get to KEEP THE GLASS but what would you do with it? Throw it, drop it, maybe kick it — you’re better off w/out it. Drink, drink up, notice the semblance of Dooley’s logo to the L.A. Dodger logo, resemblance, the cooper/wood tabletops, the inverted 22-ouncers strung over the bar, hanging plants like used to signify “fern bar” — now they just signify “bar” — clientele like some sort of hick-yuppie Santa Barbara. En route to the men’s room, overhear and enjoy this groovy boy-girl colloquy: “You’re a big fucking dope.” "You’re a pig-fucking dope.” “I said ‘big fucking dope.’ ” “You’re that too.” “Actually, you are a pig-fucking dope.” A refill and g’bye.

Hello, Day at a Time Bookstore, closed. Greetings — c’mon, say it — to Richard’s Art Frames & Gift Shop, same. Hi there, Kink’s Full Service Hair Salon, ditto. Howdy, Up Your Alley — easy to misread, but don’t, as Up Yours Always — a boutique. Howzit hangin’, Fisherman’s Supply Center, still abuzz with rods, bait & nuthing at ten-thirty pee-yem. Good evening, fuchsia wildflowers at Elm and Roosevelt. Yo, local patrol heat actively harassing no one: Dils, wherever in heck you guys may presently be. Hi ho! forlorn deserted Carlsbad — a peaceful, sleepy placelikeanywhereelse. Anywhereelse, that is, that’s peacefulsleepy at Fridaynotyeteleven. Still one place to go.

The sea, the byootiful... not in but near. By. No swim tonight, no close encounter w/cold lapping foam — just a brief short walk upon damp dark halfmoonlit rocks and sand, capped off with some snappy weekend dialogue, to which your mate should contribute the lion’s share, as close as poss. to:



“Well, I’d rather not contemplate the vastness of the ocean, it just seems too dangerous, I guess because of the power, I don’t necessarily see that as beautiful.”

“What’s it gotta do with beautiful or not beautiful?”

“Well, it seems to me that when people come to the ocean they smell all that stuff and look at it and feel some connection to it, but I see it as very capricious. There’s something not to trust about nature, that’s for sure. I just prefer to think it doesn’t exist, that its power, well, they call it ‘Mother Nature,’ right? What kind of parenting is that — that can only damage?”

“How ’bout calling it ‘Bad Brother Nature,’ or ‘Black Sheep Uncle Nature?’ ”

“All I’m saying is if you contemplate that stuff you have to contemplate the dangerousness — that it could swallow you up any time.”

“Isn’t that part of the appeal?”

“To who?”

“To anybody?”

“The appeal to me is the romance of it.” “Yeah, well that’s exactly what I... ”

“For instance, if you walk along the beach and there’s some light there because man has put light there.”

“How ’bout moonlight?”

“Moonlight is not enough. I’m very glad there’s some light and it’s somewhat calm. In its calmness it allows you to exist. And within the calm and the nice sound and the lights you can have romance, also the smell, the nice... ”


“I do like the smell.”

“That isn’t dangerous?”

“The smell’s not dangerous.”

“How about the wetness?”

“Well, I may not care for it, but it’s not life-threatening.”

“So what you’re really saying is going to the beach is like flying in a plane?”

“Are you talking about day or night?”

“It doesn’t matter, it’s the same...”

“Okay, yes, it’s a risk. It’s a definite risk. I definitely would have to educate myself as to what there is to appreciate. And I can, I know there are certain sensorial treats, but it’s not worth... see, even the concept of weather. I like it when the sunny nice days, a little nice rain, but not tornadoes or earthquakes or...there’s just no end to the fragileness.”

Contemplate having sex. Return to rm. 250.

I hate the rich,

They should dig the ditch.

— The Dils, “I Hate the Rich”

Get up, help Mandy remove her sponge, peep through the curtains at high tide and ominous clouds. Get your Health Valley Oat Bran, find some bowls in the cupboard and spoons in the drawer, get your milk from the fridge, shit, you forgot to buy it las’ night. No problem, dress, sprint to Royal Palms Spirits and also get beer, get some Guinness and Carlsbad, ’scuse me, Carlsberg, and a Bering cigar. Chow down, relax, read Thursday’s Carlsbad Journal, that front-page pic of the guy getting four stitches in his finger at Tri-City Medical Center, the piece about rubble on the north shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon (somethin’ to see), and hype for Sunday’s book fair.

Share a beer, bring a sweater, motor south along the coast, Carlsbad Bl. as it jogs right, 101, whatever you wanna call it, passing joggers jogging the walk overlooking the sea, see the Encina power plant loom, gloomy, its horsedick stack as grim as the sky but not earth grim, primate grim, nobody needs sun as a forcible daily prop but this stack jus’ don’t make it. Sand invades your path, blows under your wheels like smoke, like low-level fog, ethereal, spooky, “surreal,” urn, yes, lovely. 'Cross the road from the plant a house or something sits (stands) covered by one of those exterminator tents, broadly striped, grey and navy. A strip of campground whizzes by — South Carlsbad State Beach, “Full” — prompting Mandy to muse, “I can see why it’s full. I suppose if you’re camping it would be ideal, though I’d never wanna go camping — it doesn’t make sense. It’s cold, there could be little animals, crawling bugs.” Tell her jokingly (but try hard to sound sincere), “I thought next time we’d go camping ourselves.”

Encina power plant

Encina power plant

Shit, in the gloom & loveliness you missed your lagoon, forgot to hang a left at Hedionda, don’t repeat the oversight with Batiquitos, the lagoon you’ve heard got drained and stinks — turn off at La Costa Ave. and check it out. No, NO! Don’t go to La Costa, into La Costa — land of golf and pus — or you will cry CRY, or at least wince, for the whole damn human Race (and its Condition). Nostrils flared, circumnavigate the sump, the swamp, whiff, sniff, ’tain’t so awful after all, at worst like somebody peed on the floor, mot even one that’s had time to ripen, fresh pee — or faintly pungent sink or tub mold. So who told you it stinks? Was it D—h M-----------s?

Enough smelling, time to find some baseball. Or even softball. Drive into one of those hilly anonymous shit-rich tract neighborhoods that proliferate these days in southeastern Carlsbad, any one, first one that spurs Mandy to ask, “Whudda you think people do who live here?” to which you reply, “Same as rich people anywhere — exploit the rest of the world,” and up a street in this one development where street signs have curvycurly letters so H’s look like K’s, K’s look like R’s, you will find it: girls’ little league. Westar Properties Panthers vs. the Hoffman Planning Dynamite Dolphins, purple vs. pink. Score as you join it is something like 20-12, second inning — a real barnburner. Any contact is generally a hit; most infield grounders are good for two bases. With the bases loaded a thin blonde 10-year-old swings wildly at an equally wild pitch, strike two. “Hang in there, sweety,” shouts her ultra-supportive coach, “be aggressive.” Swings aggressively at the next pitch, which lands two feet in front o’ the plate, inning over. Cries like a 4-year-old! ... Nothing makes your day like a good, stiff dose of national pastime.

All good must pass, howev, and in this case quickly, as she then forces you, Mandy, not the crier, to drive inside La Costa so be ready. If you look, you get cancer — in- operable FACE cancer — so don’t look, don’t see, see NO MORE THAN a couple-three golf bags and some golf clothes and a Cadillac parked between a Bentley and a Volvo and otherwise nothin’. For that much you’ll prob’ly get thumb cancer, which is curable. If detected early, and w/ competent professional removal, chances are you’ll live. ’S okay, though, to ogle the fat dead grey cat as you exit onto Camino Real, north, and observe living Hispanic migrant laborers here, there and everywhere on the way, on your way, to lunch.

Hungry? You’d better be. Because I know a place that is ready and willing to stuff your big rainyday gut. Did I say able? And able. The Armenian Cafe, (619) 720-CAFE, two shakes of a lamb’s wad from Ocean Manor — park & walk. Walk quick. ’S raining but stand there, north Cafe wall, and read every syllable of Carlsbad’s finest hand-painted sign:







NO FAT (not yogurt) and

only 20 calories per ounce


Enter, wipe your face with’ a napkin or sleeve and sit in the front part, the windowed porch part — a nice oldfashioned building with a porch. A porch that slopes. Don’t get ice cream yet, order falafel, a gyros/sha-warma omelet, coffee and ice tea. “Rain,” says your waitress, “is good. I hate when it’s nice out and I’m working in here.” Watch a hundred good droplets collect on your pane. Hear the noonday midday train whistle by.

When the food comes, lemme think a second ... okay, eat it. The falafel, eat that with your hands — the pita — and the omelet, urn, let’s see, a fork and spoon should do it — or a fork and a knife. Examine your food before eating it, making damnsure your falafel contains shredded lettuce, sliced tomato and sauce, and the omelet has its full complement of onions, peppers, cheese, mushrooms (meat patties on the side), carefully check side dishes— rice pilaf, check, feta cheese, check, cottage fries, check — then proceed to “pig out” — pretend you both was pigs in the sty. If you’ve got room left for ice cream, you’re a bigger pig than I.

Ocean Manor Motel

Ocean Manor Motel

When the rain clears, well, now here’s an idea, you can go for a walk. See what’s left to SEE, see it with pleasuredn’ttheword, SEE! (f’rinstance) California Sportsphoto, SEE! Pharaoh’s Egyptian Imports, SEE! Arthur A. Brown Plumbing, SEE! woman w/ a parakeet on her shoulder, SEE! Dream Kitchen & Bath Company, SEE! Dragmaster Auto Repair, SEE! poodle being clipped in the window of Klassi Kritters Pet Salon, SEE! Village Guntrader — “Yes, We’re Open!” — with its framed pics of bear, elk, et cetera (shooting suggestions), SEE! (even though it’s boring) McFadden’s Antiques. And when you’re done seeing go back to your room, rest, shower, lie around, watch Meatballs III until the signal goes off, both the picture and sound, call the front desk and be told, “It’s Carlsbad Cable — the whole town is out,” look up Hennessey’s in the phone book, lie around, brush your respective teeth, fall asleep reading La Maison de Rendez-vous and Tender Is the Night

But don’ let things get too tender, too cozy, you’ve got too big an evening ahead. Between 7:12 and 7:13 rise, shake a leg, I think you should shave for this. Hennessey’s Tavern, 2777 Roosevelt St., deserves your cleanshaven chin, cheeks, lip and jowls. And neck. And check in the mirror to make sure your sideburns’re even. Hennessey’s: a big wide well-lit airy place. Tigers-White Sox on five TV’s. Fanlike machine on the far wall, not a rotating fan but six tandem hand fans, a-fanning. Scan the menu, order in dribs and drabs, and with each order (and in between) get two black & tans with “separation.” The Guinness, until it settles, sits on top, distinct from the paler suds on bottom. Drinking these muthas should work up a thirst, er, an appetite, for which I recommend: Fuzzy Navel peach pie, corned beef and cabbage, Irish nachos. Irish whuh? Nachos with sliced spuds in place of tortilla chips — they’re yummilicious. Next table over, a guy reading the Blade-Citizen reads aloud, suddenly so aloud you turn ’round, make eye contact. Conversation ensues; continues. At an opportune moment, ask: “Do you know the Dewhofner twins by any chance?”

“No.” “How ’bout the Newcrofters?” “Doesn’t ring a bell, but say it to this ear, I don’t hear too good with the right. Construction accident, Oceanside, fell 32 feet straight onto my back. Cracked my head, back, broke ten ribs, lost my spleen. Got 30 thousand, shoulda hired a lawyer, I’da made 100 thousand easy. Which is nothing compared to what this lady’s gonna make when she. sues, the one in Vista whose husband got his head blown in by deputies. Said he was backing his pickup in a threatening manner, hard to figure why they’d, wasn’t even a Mexican. What was that name again?” “I dunno, Newsofter, Dowfoster. Heard they got 86’ed here recently.” “I don’t know them. Can’t be Hennessey’s regulars. I’m in here practically every night.”

Maisy’s tired so take her back, let her sleep. Shamble down the freezybreezy beach, pass 10-12 couples, only couples, one couple fucking (or something) under a towel. Walk south, light up your cigar, compose second-rate beach haikus, or pseudo-haikus, such as

Crickets in the ice plants,

The air wets white.

Tug boldly on your Bering, stink up the night. Feel like a million, a thousand, bucks.

Klassi Kritters Pet Salon

Klassi Kritters Pet Salon

What are the types of services offered by the Carlsbad Post Office? The list is extensive and all the details fill two weighty volumes that must be memorized by window clerks during their brief training period. Customers do not need to learn all the options, just the window-service hours. These are: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

— “It’s in the Mail,” Carlsbad Magazine, May 1990

If you have an itch to gamble, check out the Trauma Intervention Program Casino Nite beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Jazzer-cise Center on 2208 Roosevelt St. For a donation at the door, you’ll receive $200 in play money to gamble on roulette, blackjack, poker and horse racing.

— “Around Carlsbad,” Carlsbad Journal, May 17,' 1990

R-r-r-ring ding goes your wake-up call, manythings t’ do before you’re outa here. First, foremost, gotta break your fast, ain’t et nothing in 12-13 hours: consume or perish. For sustenancial relief, affordable, flavorous, I suggest Mariah’s, 377 Elm Avenoo. Don’t let the “family style’’ mumbojumbo throw you, this smallish town prenoon cuisinery is the berries. You can’t go wrong with the ortega/chorizo omelet (2nd best aig dish you will ever eat, or even meet), french toast and bacon for the broad, a couple OJ’s and some joe. Sufficient bodyfuel to carry you through this sunniest of sun days. (All Sundays are sunny — it’s the law or something.)

THE VASTNESS BY DAY - Up for some more beach? More beach. Tall green bamboo stalks... billion-dollar seahomes... black dots that might just be dolphins... squirrel on the seawall... raven with a lizard in its beak, camcorded by a woman with a Sony F30 ... and Mamie’s final sea meditation: “I don’t really think there’s much difference between sitting here watching the waves and sitting at a laundromat watching the machines go round and round. Like if they had these patterns that you played in a video, different ones over and over again, and this is like the wave disc and there’s the clothes-drier disc — both are repetitive and both are compelling in their way. But there’s a big part left out: the vastness of the wind, which by day I’d say is perfectly acceptable, and the feel on your skin and all of that. And that is a hundred times better than the laundromat.”

TWO-FIFTY FAREWELL — Dishes that aren’t yours, wash. Dishes that are, well you didn’t bring any. Admire for the v. last time the benign nineteenfiftiesness (-sixtiesness) (fortiesness) of the admirable decor, esp. the large framed print of lemon yellow mums in a vase. Pack up your oat bran and underwear. Kiss the carpet of the finest room with a seaview and stove you have ever licked clitoris in. Say g’bye to the dead moth and golf tee which since Friday (at least) have been guests in your door-sill. Boo hooooo.

THE CITY THAT READS TOGETHER BLEEDS TOGETHER — ’S in Holiday Park near the freeway so catch it, the Book Fair. You will not buh-lieve the incredible turnout. Without guns or broken bottles at their head, every live, animate Carlsbadian under 200 will ostensibly BE THERE, and it couldn’t be simply for the baked goods, the clown, or even the oompah band — it’s quite possible, even probable, that most or at least many of these people readabook now and then. And you read, right? So grab a carton, take your time, and score barely beat hardcovers of Madame Bovary, Our Lady of the Flowers, the British first printing of Portnoy’s Complaint, Huxley’s After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, George Higgins’ The Digger’s Game and Larry Merchant’s National Football Lottery, each just a buck, Christopher Ishewood’s Lions and Shadows, 50 cents, and the Penguin paperback of Candide for a quarter. As they say in Chicago, a steal.

Dooley McCluskey's

Dooley McCluskey's

BETTER THAN STUMP FALLS, NEBRASKA — Home in your living cell, think about and see if you agree with me: That in five years’ time (or less) it may be one enormous mall like anywhere else, but right this sec Carlsbad remains a somewhat charming, not unbearable Small Town/U.S.A. in a fair number of non-pejorative senses of the term. It’s authentically primitive, it’s systematically unguarded, proud of its own basic nothingness, it’s in any event pre-Master Program in ongoing self-surmise. It is, I’m sure you’ll admit, friendlier to tourist scum than virtually anywhere else its size you’ve ever been. It ain’t especially fond of Mexicans, perhaps, but then neither is Stump Falls, Nebraska. All in all, Carlsbad is a generally nice place. And a not unbearable nice place adjacent to Vastness cannot be beat. (Tell me if you agree.)

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