California Love: A Visual Mixtape

By Peggy Roalf   Friday December 11, 2020

I realize that much of California’s romance is passing away, and I intend to see to it that I, at least, shall preserve as much of that romance as it is possible for me.—Jack London, to a Sacramento reporter in 1910

With California Love: A Visual Mixtape, photographer/filmmaker/curator Michael Rababy offers a visual dreamscape, in all its grit and glory, of the place he calls home. Photo above © Michael Rababy

In the Introduction, he speaks of his Lebanese-born father’s dream of one day living in California: “My father’s dream was to come to California. The limitless possibilities reminded him of back home where he could drive from the beaches of Beirut to the mountains east of Zahle in less than an hour. I dream too. I dream of a place where [then follows a list of things that would make California an unearthly paradise]…I dream.” 

The book is a lovefest, comprised of images by friends and colleagues, with decidedly un-random quotes that, when all taken together, show why the Gold Rush never really ended.

Right: © Aline Smithson 


One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.—Henry Miller


© J.J. L’Hereux

Malibu tends to astonish and disappoint those who have never seen it, and yet its very name remains, in the imagination of people all over the world, a kind of shorthand for the easy life—Joan Didion, The White Album


© Andy House 

When people first came to the West, particularly from the owned and fought-over farmlets of Europe, and saw so much land to be had for the signing of a paper and the building of a foundation, an itching land-greed seemed to come over them. They wanted more and more land—good land if possible, but land anyway. Perhaps they had filaments of memory of feudal Europe where great families became and remained great because they owned things. The early settlers took up land they didn’t need and couldn’t use; they took up worthless land just to own it. And all proportions changed. A man who might have been well-to-do on ten acres was rat-poor on two thousand in California.—John Steinbeck, East of Eden


© Randy Shropshire

The two girls grew up at the edge of the ocean and knew it was Paradise, and better than Eden, which was only a garden.—Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: Advice to young ladies eager for a good time: a novel

Soon it got dusk, a grapy disk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries—Jack Kerouak, On the Road

Left: © Craig Robbins 

Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead. –Charles Bukowski 

California Love: A Visual Mixtape curated by Michael Rababy, presenting images by 110 California Photographers is published by Cali Editions, a publishing service of the Los Angeles Center of Photography, created for this book. Info


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