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Davis

Davis, California

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Column: West Coast, Y U No?

Astute readers will recall that I am not from here. I was born and raised and went to college on the East Coast (double-plus points if you remember where). I’d say coming to California was a culture shock for me, but I honestly haven’t seen the alleged differences between the coasts. People on both sides tend to vote blue, call their college towns “The People’s Republic of X” and love sushi. I guess the weirdos must live in that wide expanse in between.

That’s not to say this particular campus hasn’t surprised me. For example, the smell of manure isn’t nearly as pervasive as I expected, so that’s one stereotype proven wrong. Bike friendliness? Check. Picnic Day? Awesome. Whole Earth Festival? Cool. The nation’s best Farmers Market? The Student Farm? The Meat Lab? The Bike Church? The Craft Center? Icing on the gluten-free, vegan hemp cake. These boons are unique, so take advantage of them while you can! Of course, there are elements of this area I could do without, and things about the East I miss. If only I had a forum by which my rants could reach a wide audience. Oh wait, I do! Excellent …

I loved the first snow in college, because all the Californian and Floridian freshmen would run outside with eyes beaming, joyfully trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues and making snow angels. The honeymoon period ended the next day, when they saw that the snow hadn’t melted and realized they would be living with this for a long time. I certainly don’t miss the winter, but I do miss the indoor pools open all year round. The Rec Pool closes in the fall? Really? That I swam more in Boston than I do here in Davis is blasphemous!

Another peeve: between the warm winters and the stereotype of sexually liberated California, I expected there to be a lot more streaking here! I’m not asking for UCSB levels of licentiousness, but I’m disappointed. All you have is the recently developed “Undie Run.” I witnessed it this year. Less than 50 students participated, all in speedos or undergarments. Pathetic! Why, when I was in college, I and hundreds of students would run around our Quad twice a year, completely naked, in the freezing snow, uphill both ways and watched by dozens of tourists with cameras while a band played in their boxers. Maybe it’s an East Coast thing? Still, I’ll say this about the Undie Run: The few of you who ran are in terrific shape! Let’s just say the streaking student body at my alma mater tended to be less Natalie Portman and more John Lithgow.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment for me is how political this campus is, or at least has become since you-know-when. What happened to the supposed apathy of Davis-ites? If I wanted to go to a school wracked with protests and ethnic tension, I would have gone to Berkeley. As exciting as it is to have witnessed the Birth of a Meme, I liked this school better when the students cared more about their classes than their criminal records.

I’ll end this by holding up a mirror to this campus’ vaunted “diversity.” Honky, please! I’m not saying Davis isn’t diverse, but there’s a reason why we have nine Thai restaurants and nine sushi bars while the only Ethiopian place shut down. Granted, I’m a bit biased: I’m a New Yorker. My standards for a “diverse campus” –  like my standards for “big city,” “high rent,” and “edible bagel” – are a bit higher than yours. Also, I think “Seinfeld” is hilarious. I had to travel 3,000 miles before I met people who didn’t.

The minority group I miss the most here in the West is my own: Jews. There don’t seem to be a lot of us here, though there are some on this campus who don’t like our kind and are quite vocal about it. Nuts to that! I’m Jewish and Israeli and proud of both, and if you don’t like it you can bite my Hebrew National Kosher Frank. All Beef. Foot long.

Aw crap, this became a sex column again.

MATAN SHELOMI is also a Yankee fan; deal with it! Send hate mail to mshelomi@ucdavis.edu.

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