The Rogue Voice


August 01, 2006

Publisher's Note: Antique Nation

The New Cayucos: Home to the chi chi effete
By Dell Franklin

When a small beach town like Cayucos loses its hardware store, and is replaced by antiques, you know it is all downhill from here on. You know something valuable is gone for good. You know an invasion is just around the corner, and that, like Carmel and Cambria, you will become mecca for the chi chi effete, and the bored, a breed that disdains bars and diners while stocking up on Charles Shaw wine at Trader Joe’s to sip from their secluded balconies.
Antique Nation. Toss in a sprinkle of wine tasting, and you got the New Cayucos. Knock down a few beach bungalows, a slew of A-frames, a block of wooden shacks, replace them with two-story, tile-topped mausoleums (where an early retired couple can live in six rooms and three baths and a spa), and you’ve got the New Cayucos, where middleclass families move out, and middle schools slowly die.
We’re talking about folks who give nothing to this town. They build architecturally embarrassing faux castles with the sleaziest material, call it an investment, rent it out occasionally to valley spawn, visit it on the Fourth of July so as to attend the funky old parade that has turned corporate and threateningly patriotic; visit it over the holidays with their children, and you’ve got the New Cayucos.
A local surfer/homie parked his dilapidated trailer out in front of the newly constructed Pierview Plaza a couple weeks ago, filled it with an eclectic assortment of junk jutting in various directions like a gigantic drawer of silverware caught in a garbage disposal. On the back was a crude sign with his name, business logo, and phone number. Trying to drum up a little business in an eccentric way. Two days later, there was a new sign on it — MOVE YOUR CRAP ELSEWHERE. No sense of humor. He waited a week, moved it a few blocks down, and somebody cut his tires.
The New Cayucos. Antique Nation. Know what my mother said about this madness when it started a few decades ago?
“Antiques are just a bunch of junk. I grew up in the Depression with that junk. You can’t use it, and who wants to look at it? That junk reminds me of being so poor we had to wear hand-me-downs and eat leftovers all week. Antiques? You can have ‘em. Give me a nice new couch.”
The hardware store is gone. No longer do our local carpenters, contractors, plumbers, painters and general laborers, before going to work in the morning, lollygag out front of the hardware store, sipping coffee, smoking, petting one another’s job dogs in truck beds. Everything one bought in that hardware store was useful, wasn’t junk. The humanity taking place within and outside that hardware store was palpable, life-affirming. Americana. I miss Leonard, the Nam vet, with whom you could have an intelligent, civilized conversation on any subject. I miss the rednecks and good ole boys. I miss walking my dog across the empty field that is now Pierview Plaza and just looking at and listening to and nodding toward that friendly congregation. The heart of Cayucos.
Replaced by antique nation and wine sippers. Dave Friesen, you of the dilapidated trailer — I ask you to fill that baby up with as much eyesore junk as possible and park it downtown in New Cayucos and leave it there for a week, at least, just to show these people who we are!

On another front, Stacey Warde, our editor and backbone, the conscience and workhorse of this paper, has been selected as one of three finalists in a national writing contest sponsored by In Character, a journal that focuses on the nature and power of everyday virtues. Badly underpaid, and sucking it up because he believes in The Rogue Voice, and hoping that someday he’ll have a stake in a growing institution that has honesty, personality, integrity, and a ball-breaking mentality, Stacey keeps a firm yet flexible harness on his publisher. I’m an angry sonofabitch. Stacey’s an angry sonofabitch, too, because he doesn’t like what he sees around here, and in our country. He’s pissed off at religion. He’s pissed off at hypocrites. He’s pissed off at cut-throat weasels with little talent except that of the ass-kisser fawning for rewards and empty kudos. Stacey’s in possession of an intense sense of fairness and humanity. He’s no socialist, but rampant greed and corruption stokes his anger.
Sometimes our angriest people are our most compassionate. It takes such a person to turn a brief human interaction with a homeless person into an award-winning article that first showed up in the Tribune. He has a chance to win 10-grand, is guaranteed 5-grand. The irony of this story is that it all emanated from a dollar.
A homeless woman asked him for a dollar. Out of work at the time, cast out from the New Times, he told her he wished he could give her something, but he was stone broke, and so she offered him her last dollar. We talked about this in the local bar. The experience moved him immensely. A moral. A lesson. When this same woman was found brutally murdered in the creek in San Luis Obispo, he was beyond disturbed, had to write about it, had to write about his brief relationship with this poor but generous woman. He wrote with eloquence and respect for the underdog and the dead, and he wrote with his trademark, which cannot be purchased or grown — heart. §

Dell Franklin is publisher of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at


At 10:20 AM, Blogger Patrick O'Hannigan said...

I hope Stacey wins, and I miss the Cayucos hardware store too, albeit vicariously. But in some cases, the choice of descriptors here says more about Dell Franklin than about change in Cayucos. "Valley spawn," for example: why the contempt? Are coastal people better than inland people? Is there a particular valley that stirred your ire? Perhaps a re-reading of John Steinbeck is in order.

Then there's the funky parade turned "threateningly patriotic." For crying out loud, man, if a Fourth of July parade can't be patriotic, then what the hell can? Old Glory doesn't have to mean "I support George W. Bush and the war in Iraq." Patriotism isn't of itself an evil thing. In fact, I'd argue that it springs from the same root as the civic pride that you obviously have. And until you can rhapsodize about Boulder City, NV or Seoul, Korea, with the same passion and keen observation you bring to Cayucos, never mind selling any "one world" alternative to patriotism, 'cause homey ain't built to think that way.

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