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  • MaryCamarillo

Turkey Day in Angrytown, USA


Of course, there was a protest about the 10 p.m. curfew at the Huntington Beach Pier last Saturday night. It’s become part of our city’s modus operandi to get indignant and out on Pacific Coast Highway when anyone tells us what to do regarding our health and safety.


Four hundred angry people showed up and once again the protest made the national news.


In an article in the LA Times titled “How Huntington Beach Became Angrytown, USA,” Gustavo Arellano surmised that Huntingtonians are angry because they're afraid their California dream is slipping away. HB, one of the last places in SoCal the white working-class population can afford, is slowly becoming more diverse. Arellano said white people now make up only sixty percent of Surf City's population.


The HB Community Facebook forum got up in arms right away, pointing out that Arellano also violated the curfew by reporting on the protest because, according to their way of thinking, journalists are non-essential employees. The forum also took issue with being identified as a largely white community while at the same time arguing that HB is actually whiter than the article stated. More like seventy percent, the FB group claimed proudly.


All of this is embarrassing and once again causes me to question why I live here amidst these angry people. It seemed like a perfectly good idea to move here almost twenty-five years ago. The real estate market in those days was nearing rock bottom, which meant we didn’t get much for our small house in Anaheim, but we could afford something in HB, halfway in between where my husband worked in Fountain Valley, and my commute to Long Beach.


We found a house on a cul de sac with avocado, orange, lemon, guava. and tangerines trees in the backyard and a bricked in courtyard out front. I planted vegetables in our parkway the first year and the neighbor across the street walked over on Thanksgiving morning and asked what I was growing. I pulled off a beautiful bell pepper and gave it to him. “Happy Thanksgiving,” I said. “You’re giving this to me?” He was stunned. I thought he appreciated my generosity. I found out later he referred to us as the f*cking Mexicans. He's deceased now and hopefully no longer angry. May he RIP.


We called this tract the “church neighborhood” when we were house hunting because of the bells of Saint Bonaventure, which chine before mass and every hour from nine am to eight pm. I’ve loved the bells ever since. I also admired the decorative flags everyone was flying in our neighborhood back in the mid-nineties. An artistic expression, I thought, and quickly assembled a collection of my own. The turkey is flying this week. This particular flag belonged to my mother-in-law, may she rest in peace. She was never an angry woman and I miss her all the time and especially on Thanksgiving.


Next week I’ll rotate in the Christmas collection. We fly the American flag too on certain holidays. During the Bush years when we were worried about our first amendment rights, I bought a Bill of Rights flag, the one with thirteen stars in a circle. The Second Amendment fans have claimed that flag as their own these days, so I’ve put mine back in the box.


The Michelle Steele signs are gone now from all the yards in our neighborhood but most of the Trump flags are still hanging, faded and tattered. I predict some of them will never come down although some of them have been replaced with Blue Lives Matter flags.


For the last twenty-five years, however, no one in our particular cul de sac ever indicated any political preference by posting signs or flags. I guessed we all knew where each of us stood and didn’t see any possibility of changing anyone’s mind. But then, on the Fourth of July, the neighbor directly across the street from us, in a house with an identical floor plan, put up a Trump 2020 garden flag.


My office window was directly in sight of this display and it made my blood boil every time I looked up from my writing. So, I bought an identical Biden 2020 garden flag and planted it in my neighbor’s line of vision. It made me feel better.


When Biden was declared the president elect on November 7th, we drank Sierra Nevada Celebration Ales and toasted the future. I waited until two p.m. to take down the Biden flag. I wanted to take a victory lap around the cul de sac, waving the flag over my head, but I resisted. When I looked outside an hour later, my neighbor had withdrawn his Trump flag.


This gives me hope, here in Angrytown, USA in the time of COVID-19. I hope you find reasons to be hopeful as well.


Happy Turkey Day


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