|Solvang in the 50s|
Many years ago the theater where I was working opened a new venue in Solvang, CA, "The Danish Capital of America."
I'd been there maybe once or twice in my life. It was off of Highway 101, near Mission Santa Ynez, Flag Is Up Farms, and other Santa Barbara County agricultural and tourist attractions. You turned off at Buellton, home of Pea Soup Anderson's, than which nothing was more quintessentially old time California tourist-trappy.
Solvang, of course, being ethnic and proudly so, beat them all. But wait... This is California, a multi-ethnic paradise, no? Agricultural California, where they raise horses, broccoli, strawberries, grapes, etc. Where field workers are almost all Mexican, and where Mexican American heritage is very prominent.
Or so one would think.
Not in Solvang, no sir. Where Mexicans and Mexican Americans have been almost entirely expunged. Well, the woman who cleans your room at the King Frederik or Royal Copenhagen Inn prolly speaks Spanish only and is brown as a berry (call her "Maria"), but that's OK. You don't hear her speak or see many (any?) of her kind on the streets.
Instead you see many blondes. Many, many blondes. Most of them natural, too. Few seemed to get their glowing yellow locks from bottles, at least not back then. Not in Solvang.
I was in Solvang when the Queen (Margarethe) was slated to arrive for a royal visit. I believe it was the first time a Danish monarch had come to Solvang, and the streets were festive with bunting and flowers. Everyone was in their finest duds. Well, I was working, so my duds weren't by any means the finest, but somehow I wound up on the royal receiving line anyway, and to my great surprise, Her Majesty and Her Consort (Prince Henrik) -- both young and attractive -- made their way to me and greeted me in perfect English ("How do you do?"). I may have nodded my head, but I did not bow. Many of those waiting to greet the Queen did. Deep bows, deep curtsies, many in native costume with fancy headdresses and knee britches.I think all I said was "Your Majesty" -- and that was that.
The royal couple toured the town, cheered by flag-waving militant blonds lining the streets. They sampled aebleskivers and pickled herring, heard school children sing for them, and met with town and county worthies.
Then they were gone, and I went back to work.
There was a show to put on. Not "Hamlet," too bad. In fact, though I have a vague memory of an actor-friend all in black declaiming over the skull of Poor Yorick, I don't think we ever produced a "Hamlet" in Solvang. Or maybe anywhere at all.
I know we did "Peer Gynt" and some musical -- "Guys and Dolls?". I dunno. Can't say. I know we were up till four in the morning tech-dressing "Peer" and it still didn't work right. The opening was not a total disaster, but it didn't work as well as anyone hoped. Shoulda done "Hamlet."
Anyway, what I remember most about Solvang, apart from evening chill and architectural folly (phony stork nests, anyone?) was all the blond people... everywhere... you couldn't escape them. Some were Viking-ish, others more along the lines of Brunhilda, and some could pass for copies of the then popular Danish, umm, adult movie stars. It just didn't seem like California at all -- and I think that was the point.
Take us out of our ordinary existence and transport us to little corner of Europe where everything was festive and gay (in its earlier meaning) and people were blond and sturdy and sang and danced in ethnic costume before tucking into a smorgasbord.
All without leaving California.
As it happened, I wasn't into blonds much. Nothing against them, but just didn't find them particularly interesting or attractive, either on the screen, on stage, or in life. So I never much cared for Solvang, and wouldn't have anyway for any number of reasons, but the militant blond people clinched the deal for me. To the extent I could, I stayed away after that initial foray, and I think I've only been back once or twice with theater friends in ensuing decades.
This is more the reality of Central Coast California for too many people, then and now
|Migrant Mother, 1936, by Dorothea Lang|
The photo was taken a little way up the road in Nipomo, where pea picking was under way.
Seeing all the militant blonds facing off against Antifa in Berkeley triggered some of these memories. I never felt that the blonds of Solvang were in any way threatening, but there was -- as I'm sure there still is -- a sense of separation between them and the hordes of brown people surrounding them. Something of a siege mentality, even if it was masked by tourist-welcome. That's kind of what these militant white rightist and fascist blonds up in Berkeley like to portray. "Wypipo Under Siege."
Well, they're not, not really, and that's part of why all this hoo-hah over the rise of the White Right is a bit overblown. Much is made of it, but it's not as much of a Thing as The Narrative would have us believe.
White folks are mostly just fine, and no one is trying to oppress them. Not even all those years they suffered under the Kenyan Socialist Usurper were as oppressive as they want to make it out.
The only point I try to make is that it doesn't take a lot of militants of any stripe to throw things into chaos and potentially take over. It's a risk complacent people need to be aware of. But they largely aren't.
While I'd keep my eye on the rise of the Militant White -- and very blond -- Right, I don't fear it. For all their bluster, they aren't very bright. Of course book smarts isn't the key, is it? It's emotion, determination, and action.
Solvang is an enclave of blondness. Perhaps we'll see the rise of certain other ethnic enclaves as the political situation continues to deteriorate.
Some people are just too frightened of The Other to live in a multi-ethnic community I guess...