An album by Mr. Bungle, released in 1999. If you have heard their other albums and then heard this one, you would hardly believe it's the same band. The songs are actual songs (In Disco Volante, the tracks can hardly be called songs). Not only are they actually singable, they are quite 'popy'. Some of them anyway. The tunes range from the Radiohead-sounding 'Retrovertigo', through a bizarre form of Rock and Roll (it IS Rock and Roll, though), in 'None Of Them Knew They Were Robots' to the Gypsy-metal 'Ars Moriendi'. Great stuff. And amazing lyrics, especially 'Vanity Fair'.

Album listing:

  1. Sweet Charity
  2. None Of Them Knew They Were Robots
  3. Retrovertigo
  4. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare
  5. Ars Moriendi
  6. Pink Cigarette
  7. Golem II: The Bionic Vapour Boy
  8. The Holy Filament
  9. Vanity Fair
  10. Goodbye Sober Day

California has a population of approximately 34,871,648 (2000 Census), with 217,753 legal immigrants entering in 2000 from Mexico, People's Republic of China, the Philippines, India, and Vietnam (the 5 leading countries, making up 39 percent of all immigrants in 2000). The unemployment rate has increased, rather significantly, since that whole fiasco in Silicon Valley (though I'm sure there are plenty of jobs in the military! Go! Protect Your Country! Anyway, What do all of these immigrants do?

Many do the jobs that are looked down upon by our society, that are the backbone of the Californian economy (no, they do NOT patrol beaches in little red swimsuits!):

California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom

The California CTA station (known informally as the California El Station) is about halfway between the O'Hare station and the Loop on the Blue Line in Chicago. It, along with the Western and Damen stations, are the only three elevated stations on the Blue Line before the Blue Line splits into the 54/Cermak and Forest Park branches.

It is a rather plain station (though about 300,000 people used that station in one year). It has one exit, which leads onto California Street (at about 3000 west). Inside the station proper is a small convinence mart, which usually isn't open. After paying for the fare and going through the turnstiles, there is a choice of heading up one of two staircases; one leads to the side where O'Hare trains arrive, the other to where ]54/Cermak and Forest Park trains arrive.

The actual station is equally plain: two open-air platforms facing each other with a mess of tracks between them. The barriers on the sides of the platforms (to prevent people from falling off) are painted white. There are lights to illuminate the station at night (they are yellow lights, and do a good job of covering anything under them yellow). There are usually two sheltered areas on each platform, and one set of heat-lamps. From that vantage point, you can see the Chicago skyline (parts of it, anyway), a Subway, and various other restaurants.

Establishments around the California CTA station include:

-A Subway – Good sandwiches and daily deals make this a great place to eat.
-A Bakery (directly under the train tracks on California, you can get all sorts of breads, rolls, cookies and doughnuts here for only 30 cents plus tax)
-A Laundromat
-A very small Fast-Food place (it can fit about four tables and it's rather dirty...good milkshakes though)
-A Police Station
-A Grocery Store (I think it focuses on produce)
-A Post Office (This is further north on California, where California intersects with Fullerton)

All-in-all, the California station is a rather useful station. I've enjoyed using it for the last seven years. I recognize the people who have shops around the area, and it's not a bad neighborhood. It's a good place.

California is the most populous and third largest state in the United States of America. California is often described in superlatives. Along with its size and population, it also has the highest and lowest points in the continental United States, and has some of the driest, wettest, hottest and coldest places. It is prone to earthquakes, drought, wildfire and the occasional volcanic eruption. It also has many famous landmarks and some of the United State's largest urban areas. California is sometimes compared to other nations in the world, to show that if it was an independent country, it would be as populous, large and as economically active as many major world powers. There is a county in California that is larger in area than nine of the smallest US states, and more populous than the 12 least populous. California is almost a nation in itself.

Some of this is by accident. In the same way that the borders of Europe were settled by religious wars or cousins marrying several hundred years ago, the borders of the states come from their territorial borders, which as much as I can tell, were probably drawn out by minor functionaries in the Department of the Interior sometime in the early 19th century. There is probably more to it then that, but if some politicians had decided to draw up the map differently in the 1850s, California might be two or three states, and would not be seen as quite a monolith. But that doesn't change the fact that California, as it is, is a gigantic and many-splendored place.

Because of its great size, California probably has more distinct regions than any other American state. These include:

  • Southern California (or, to my Oregonian mind, Los Angeles), where the weather is very hot and dry and where many many people live close together. It includes Los Angeles and its suburbs, as well as San Diego. This area also includes Hollywood, California, the center of the American movie industry. It also includes the gigantic port facilities of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Like any large American city, the Los Angeles area is rich in immigrant communities, probably being the second most diverse city after New York, New York. Despite all of this diversity, Southern California is still fixed in my mind (and probably not only in my mind) as the land of smog, ego and urban sprawl.
  • The Bay Area (or, to my Oregonian mind, San Francisco) is the area around San Francisco Bay. San Francisco is actually the second largest city in the Bay Area, behind San Jose. This probably makes my habit of referring to anyone from the Bay Area as "from San Francisco" inaccurate and annoying, but it at least has historical precedent. San Francisco was the first major port, and has the famous landmarks of Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park. As opposed to the stereotypes of stress-driven, egotistical Los Angelenos, San Francisco and the Bay Area is stereotypically a more relaxed place, although (again stereotypically) somewhat loopily so. San Francisco is famous for its gay subculture, and for being one of the founding spots of hippy culture. The area might be more famous now as one of the founding spots of the computer industry, especially in San Jose and Silicon Valley.
  • The Central Valley: People familiar with California from images of the Hollywood Sign and Pride Week in San Francisco might overlook the large part of California that is given over to agriculture. The Central Valley, between the Coast Range and the Sierra Nevada, is a large flat area, that thanks to irrigation, plenty of sunshine, and cheap labor is the richest agricultural area in the United States. Many things are grown here, from exotic crops like avocados to staple crops like rice. Driving across this area seems to be an interminable experience, with the endless fields and orchards interspersed with functional towns. Although it might not be glamorous, it is one of the reasons that California has such large ports, and also the source of many semi-tropical crops. The largest city in the Central Valley is the state capital, Sacramento.
  • The rest: outside of these large areas, are many less-populated areas that might not be familiar to those outside of California, and even to many of those in the state. From the dry, interior Salton Sea to the mountain towns along the Nevada border to the wet, forested area adjoining Oregon, there are many areas that are part of California due to the decisions of that 19th-century cartographer.

Because of this great diversity, which also includes a great mixture of ethnic groups, and many different subcultures, there is very little that can be said about California as a whole. The state has also had a mixed history politically: up until 1988, it was mostly conservative overall, but since 1992 has become more and more liberal. What might happen to California in the future, and its various regions, is something beyond my ability to guess at.

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