Hoping the Comeback of Jerry Brown Will be a Comeback of Better Times
by Debra DeAngelo
Oh my, how Facebook lit up the day after Election Day, as my Tightie Rightie friends wailed and whined about the return of Governor Jerry Brown. Such despair. You’d think fire-globs of searing misery had spattered down upon them from the heavens.
Suck it up, people. It won’t be that bad. I know. I was there. Jerry Brown was painted as bit kooky back then, but in retrospect, he had it goin’ on. He just got it goin’ a little before his time.
Forget what you think you know about Jerry Brown and start Googling, if you won’t take my word for it. Find some facts. Like that most everything Meg Whitman claimed about Brown during her campaign to be Queen was false (www.factcheck.org) and that as governor, he was more frugal than the curiously beloved St. Ronald Reagan. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on that note:
“Upon taking office, Brown gained a reputation as a fiscal conservative. The American Conservative later noted he was ‘much more of a fiscal conservative than Governor Reagan.’ His fiscal restraint resulted in one of the biggest budget surpluses in state history, roughly $5 billion.”
Now, that’s got to warm a conservative’s cold, tiny little heart just a bit.
Brown wasn’t just frugal with the state’s money. He was frugal at a personal level too, driving himself to work and refusing to live in the ostentatious new Governor’s Mansion bordering Ancil Hoffman Park. I remember this controversy vividly, because that was my childhood stomping grounds, and they built that mansion on a grassy hill up which my friends and I would gallop bareback to visit some cute boys that lived on that knoll.
When the mansion went in, with its chain-link perimeter, we were furious. We were cut off from the boys, unless we took the long way around on the streets. Which, it turns out, we were willing to do. But not without grumbling. So, when the newly elected Governor Brown refused to live there, preferring a practical downtown apartment instead, we felt validated. We hated the mansion and so did the Guv. That scored him a few “cool” points with the bareback crowd.
After moving into his bachelor pad, he slept on a mattress on the floor, and even though half the world does the same thing, it was entirely too weird for middle America. When he revealed that he practiced meditation, well, that just sent the mainstream over the falls. Meditation was wild, wacky stuff in the ‘70s, just like sushi and yoga, and what we didn’t understand, we immediately feared and vilified. (Sadly, that hasn’t changed much since then.)
Brown was skewered for his ideas about technology, communications and outer space, earning him the “Governor Moonbeam” moniker. See, he had this crazy notion that communications technology could be operated by satellite while orbiting the earth. Psshhh… robots in outer space operating telephones and TVs down here on earth. What a buffoon!
Conservatives pummeled Brown mercilessly. Why? Because they’re hardwired to despise liberals just like a cat is hardwired to pounce on a catnip mouse? Not entirely. They were jealous. Wildly jealous. Because you know who was sharing Jerry’s mattress on that apartment floor? Linda Ronstadt. This drove Brown’s detractors nuts. How did this geeky, freaky dude land a rock superstar? What was he doing… must be that meditation stuff… maybe he’s hypnotizing her with his mind… or robots from outer space.
It’s called “mojo,” boys. And Jerry had it.
For those of you born too late to grasp the significance of scoring with Linda Ronstadt, let me fill in the blanks. Linda was the queen of the music scene. She rocked our little Day on the Green world, packed in there in our cut-offs and bikini tops. She had more talent in her urine than these preening little teen models lip-syncing their half-naked little selves to undeserved fame and fortune nowadays.
You see, back in the pre-MTV ‘70s, when pretty much everything was better than it is now, singers and musicians had actual talent. And before you pipsqueaks give me any lip about that, let me shut you down with two words: Led Zeppelin.
Yes, children, you know that black Swan Song logo 1977 Zep tour knockoff T-shirt you’re so fond of wearing? I have the real deal. Well, I did anyway, until my daughter swiped it. But yes, my eyes have soaked in the glory of Robert Plant prancing around in tight jeans and unbuttoned shirt, wild, golden mane flying, while my ears were saturated in his growly, gritty, banshee-esque wails and Jimmy Page’s screaming, shivering riffs, and I’m telling you, it doesn’t get any better than that.
I almost want a cigarette just thinking about it, and I don’t even smoke.
So, that was the ‘70s, my friends, better times all around, and I guess that’s where I’m meandering this week — not even approaching a snarl of political rhetoric about the wonderfulness of Jerry Brown. This is more of a broad, gentle sweep of nostalgia about better times, and a wish that the return of our own Governor Moonbeam will carry with it some better times. And I think we could all use some better times.
What do I mean by better times? Promise. In the ‘70s, life oozed promise. There was never any question about “if” we’d get into college, or “if” we’d get a job. It was a given. The future glowed brightly for anyone willing to put in the effort. In the days of Jerry Brown, it seemed like anything was possible.
I’d like to feel like anything is possible again. Even a Linda Ronstadt comeback.