California Monsters by Ryne Mading

Foreword by Stan Lerner: I just got this in the downtownster mailbox, I would laugh if I wasn’t in so much pain!!!

During another post graduate day of slaving away at the coffee shop that uniquely helped me achieve secondary educational success….enter Stan Lerner. After a double short latte order and a short chat session, I discovered that Mr. Lerner was just another soulless, carefree, freeloading Californian who had found his way to a most beautiful summertime in Montana.  To make matters worse for Stan, I found out he was from L.A. but unlike most of the native L.A. vacationers in the Montana area, Stan was not reluctant to admit where he came from and his reason(s) (or lack thereof) for the trip to Montana.

Before I continue, let me explain that Montanans are extremely skeptical of outsiders and this is doubly true for those hailing from California.  Big money from SoCal converges with small town modesty in Montana to create a situation where natives are having the lands they grew up fishing, hunting and loving being bought up kept from them.  After a steady climb in the migration of out-of-staters to the most beautiful areas of the state and a relentless increase in the number of natives staring at “No-trespassing” signs bluntly stating that “violators will be prosecuted,” some of the natives have become restless and untrusting.  That being said, my personal opinion is this:  Generally speaking, humans like to believe in the idea that “what once was will always be,” even though we know it’s not possible.  Not that we don’t accept and adapt to change but when the changes being made effect the memories we hold dear, lots of people are going to get upset about it.  Nothing goes unspoiled forever; people buy land, develop it, start families, make memories and the lands that were once home to no one become home to Californians, Germans, Nigerians, Montanans or whomever.

Continuing on, Stan and I share friendly conversation as I take my place behind the bakery case and he sips and stirs his latte calmly four feet in front of me.  Who knew that making friends with the enemy could feel so…normal?  There is no fumbling for conversation after I discover that Stan has written a blog entry concerning the refreshing classiness of the It’s A Grind coffee shop on 2nd St. and Market in Long Beach.  Ironically, this is the same coffee shop that employed me while I was completing an internship in Huntington Beach last summer. Stan seems to have a distaste for big business and corporate America as do I and though It’s A Grind has become a successful franchise in the greater L.A. area, we both agree that it lacks the typical corporate sleaze feel of any of the thousands of Starbucks in this country.  Stan and I continue to talk about various topics including his good friend whose workload always seems to swell even if there is no work to be done and the notorious laid back lifestyle of Californians that clashes so heavily with the rest of work and stress-happy America.  Maybe most people are jealous of Californians and the stress-free aura that surrounds the entire state and therefore take the stance of the short and less-loved younger brother only because these people are unhappy with the lifestyle they have chosen?

There is so much to stress about and be skeptical of right now as a Californian but ask Stan and in that famous California “chill-axed” vibe, he will explain that almost any Californian will gladly sit next to you and share friendly conversation even though they have overdrawn on their bank account ten times in the last month and don’t have enough money to make the payment on their new BMW.    

Stan Lerner is on vacation visiting a friend, he enjoys coffee, reading Herman Melville and insightful conversation. He does not sound like a California monster to me but then again, critical judgment is in the eye of the beholder, wherever he or she hails from.

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