I’ve lived in California for 10 years, but I still feel like a stranger. It’s so vast and I’m at a stage in my life where I don’t have the time to drive around exploring it’s recesses. One of my introductions to my new state was a PBS show called California’s Gold with an affable, oddly-excited hulk of a man named Huell Howser who traveled around the state and expressed child like fascination at what seemed to most trivial of things. Here’s Huell expressing wonder and amazement at a dog that eats avocados:
While my first impression of the show was loaded with mockery, I came to appreciate the complete lack of snark and irony in Howser’s engagement with the world. It’s refreshing to encounter someone who legitimately thought the world was wonderful and engaged with it as such. We so often feel the need to denigrate things to elevate ourselves. In some ways, this is what serves as the great virtue of California. It is a do your own thing culture that while not quite non-judgmental, certainly provides more space for originality and distinctiveness.
It was sad to hear of his recent passing of cancer at the relatively young age of 67. Fortunately, we still have the great wealth of footage Howser created in his time making California’s Gold and other shows. Chapman University has a Huell Houser archive with most if not all of the California Gold archives.
HT: Open Culture