I was reading a review of the new CHiPs DVD in The Times the other day and came across this observation, “In nearly every episode of the first season of ‘CHiPs’ a Volkswagen Beetle the color of a blood orange putters somewhere in the background, riding down the highway or parked at an illicit auto chop shop.” Suddenly, I had this flashback to fifth grade in San Diego. All during that year I kept seeing the same “flower power” VW bus (similar model to the right), whether it was driving by when I came out of school, or going the other way on the highway, or parked nearby when I went out to dinner with my mom. I just couldn’t shake it.
Growing up as pretty much the only Jewish kid I knew in SoCal, and never having watched any Woody Allen movies, I still had a finally developed sense of paranoia: I was sure that bus was following me! Maybe it was residual guilt I felt from my minor shoplifting career at Safeway (comic book digests, the ocassional Hotwheels car or toy motorcycle, and candy), but I definitely thought the brightly colored hippie bus was after me. It didn’t help that I never saw the driver, or that my friends or my mom didn’t take my fears seriously. But I was never really scared of the bus. I mean, what could someone driving a car as goofy as that do to a little kid? I think I just liked the idea that someone out there thought I was important enough to keep me under surveilance. And when I moved to San Francisco the next year, I never saw that bus again.
But what was the deal with that red VW Bug from CHiPs?
0 thoughts on “VWs, CHiPs, and California Paranoia”
Ha ha! At that age, I wonder if I even knew of Scooby and his pals! (My mom & I didn’t have a TV.) But I never got close enough to the bus to really be scared of it. It was almost like a ghost, always on the periphery of my vision…
I understand there are a lot of Jewish people in Los ANgeles. But I guess not in San Diego?
I’ve always wanted to ask Jeff Mason what it was like to be Jewish in the South. But it always seems like kind of an obnoxious thing to ask.
Being half-Jewish in the Virginia suburbs, I felt like I was kind of unique. But then I got kind of savvy about figuring out who was Jewish, and realized that I was surrounded by Jewish or half-Jewish kids. It was those Jews with blond hair that had me especially fooled. (So I would guess the van was following you for some other reason.)
I love that you’re backing me up about the van tailing me!
I grew up very alienated from my Jew-osity. Everyone I knew was either named Brad, Derek, or José. In fact, my name “Josh” was so odd back then, that when Star Wars came out, the other kids took to calling me “Jawa.” And it’s really true that everyone in Southern California is blond. Though I guess the fact that I’m blond too doesn’t help my case…