This Monkeys Gone to Heaven

The rest of us are stuck here

I used to work at The Orange County Register, and, in the arts section at least, it was then a pretty adventurous and vital paper despite the chronic overwork that went into it and the fact that tree squirrels had a better benefits package. After the paper won a Pulitzer and everyone was feeling all warm and fuzzy, the paper's editor announced monthly meetings where we could discuss workplace issues with him. At the first meeting, so many staffers asked when we might ever expect some basic respect and benefits that finally the editor bluntly announced, "Look, we are not a destination newspaper."

To me, that meant they weren't going to go out of their way to make it a place anyone would want to be at. We were just cogs to them, to be bought on the cheap and replaced once they wore us out. Not surprisingly, a drove or two of us quit around that time. We weren't missed.

The event comes to mind because the places in OC that are special to me are destinations. They are places you want to go to, and once you have, you sure know you are there. That's because the people who created and maintain them have the cognition that we aren't just cogs, but individuals deserving of their best expressions of individuality. You can tell when a place was birthed from a dream instead of a business plan. This is an issue full of dreams.

As Jerry the Chimp's Jungle, the Golden Bear, Safari Sam's and so many other buried OC legends attest, dreams are precarious things. Soulless machines can rumble on forever, but dreams require your active support. It's not enough just to believe in Tinker Bell; you've got to stuff some money into her bustier once in a while.

It is always a little weird to be essentially anti-consumerism and then to advocate that you go out and spend money on stuff, which so many of the picks herein entail. But even if you live the purest life, growing your own food and cooking it over goat droppings in a yurt, you still need to get out and find some inspiration once in a while, to see what your fellow humans are up to. And, as my wife is fond of reminding her barbershop customers, money makes the monkey dance. Please, go forth and nurture such dreams as we still have here.

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