Fads, Landscape and Urban Growth, Sporting

Post WW2 America and the Allure of California and Los Angeles


British strong man Eugene Sandow was considered the father of modern day bodybuilding. However the birth location was really post World War 2 Southern California. The nineteen fifties and early sixties saw a steady growth in popularity. However in the Vietnam era with the Hippie movement it became out of fashion and was associated with militarism or with a sort of homophobic view as something the gays did. The seventies was all about slimness for men. Swimmer Mark Spitz was considered the 1970s ideal for men. The dawn of the eighties brought it back with an explosion. Gyms sprang up all over the country and it became a pursuit for both gays and straight men and unlike in the fifties women took part in the pursuit this time as well.
California is given a bad rap today, but not for me. I love California. I grew up in NJ and dreamed to visit that state one day growing up as a kid. Once I finally did in 1994 I saw the Los Angeles basin from the airplane window. I was not disappointed. We easterners always made jokes about the odd strange Californians and the smoggy haze, but for many it was deflection. I love Mulholland Drive and the windy canyon roads. I love the quirky eerie feeling of the Salton Sea and the abandoned motels. I love the Mediterranean climate, The tragic Hollywood stories and the vistas from Griffith Park. Driving down The Pacific Coast Highway with the Chicago song Wishing You Were Here or America’s Ventura Highway is almost hard to describe. I see a redwood and I want to kiss it. I could go on and on. Many Americans in the fifties shared my love affair and it caused millions to move there chasing this dream of happiness, youth and beauty and warm summer days. Perhaps this dream is like vapor that you can’t really grab, but it still draws people there to this day.
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