Oh, California…that golden crescent by the sea. It seemed a wonderland to us East Coast kids; the land of Hollywood, Disney, tanned perfect bodies, orange groves and avocados, Jack, Chrissy and Janet roller skating along the Santa Monica pier.

Everybody was fit and healthy and glowing. California cuisine was all about fruit and arugula and grilling and being outside on a patio in the Hollywood hills, lifted right off the cover of Sunset magazine. The shining beacon of health at the other end of a country left scarred and beaten by industrialization and recession. Beckoning to us pale, unfit, polluted east coasters and rust belters to come west! Come west!

We’re all healthy and shiny and strong here! We drink fresh-squeezed OJ and sit in the hot tub and have a lot of casual sex and do yoga!  That’s what it looked like, anyway, to me. Watching it all on TV in the late 70’s. My friend Heather, who’d moved to our town in 1980 when we met in jr high, was from CA. She knew how to make guacamole and loved Tom Petty and Taco Bell, which we didn’t have yet in the east, and she missed life in California so much that she hightailed it back for college the day we graduated HS. Who can blame her? Suburban LI or Suburban San Francisco? As we’d say back in jr high school, duh? She taught me about west coast life. Or the fantasy of it..

So why am I rhapsodizing about the golden state? Well, the glimmering, shimmering dream bubble seems to have burst since its late-mid-century heyday. Because new stats are out about California, and its population, and, as they’d say on Mad Men, it’s “Not good Bob. Not good.” (That’s a quote from a scene between Pete Campbell and Bob Benson, where Pete’s upset about something, I can’t remember what.) Pete Campbell buys into the California dream in a big way, too. But it lets him down, and he realizes he’s human and misses his family so then he comes home to Trudy and moves to Kansas City to work for Lear Jets. No more hot tubs and avocados for Pete Campbell.

Oh, the new stats about California, right. Sorry. So according to an article about a study from UCLA in the LA times, more than HALF the adult population in the state are now either diabetic, or pre-diabetic. 55%!! Fifty Five percent!! More than half the population? Where are Jack and Chrissy and the hot tubs now?  What happened California? Where’d it all fall apart?