Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Carmel has been portrayed many ways since it bloomed as an "artist colony" in the early 1900s. In the 1920s as the town was becoming more affluent and more of a vacation resort, one columnist described its residents as "tweedy old bags in baggy old tweeds." Pressure to commercialize in the 1930s prompted resident Sinclair Lewis to warn: "Don't let the Babbitts take over Carmel." In 1950, Time magazine described the city as "a little world of its own on California's Monterey Peninsula where artists, the indolent wealthy and year-round vacationers rub elbows." Political leanings, both liberal and conservative, have been mocked. Time in 1932 called Carmel the "Provincetown of the Pacific Coast" for allowing the wedding of a black and a white couple. Then in the 1960s there was criticism for trying to keep hippies from sitting in the parks. In the 1980s, a struggle between quaintness and commercialism lead the Los Angeles Times to call Carmel "Scrooge City." Perhaps jealousy is a factor behind some of the comments. Ten years ago, the New York Times wrote: "Carmel-by-the-Sea is like the prom queen who classmates secretly hope will spill punch on her gown. Poised, pretty and pampered, the town prompts snide remarks from otherwise boosterish California guidebooks."

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