hearst castle – i wasn’t feeling very well and it’s valentine’s day but not because it’s valentine’s day; i simply wasn’t feeling well. i’m ok being alone on valentine’s day and not-valentine’s-days because i’m not one for settling tho sometimes… i’ve been known to make exceptions. there are three options for tours: grand rooms, upstairs suites, and cottages & kitchen. i chose the grand rooms tour because it’s next. we can’t wait around for tours all day can we? no we can’t
william randolph hearst was the first media tycoon. the only child of a wealthy miner and the inspiration for citizen kane. he spent 30 years building his unfinished palace on the top of a mountain overlooking the ocean. there’s a lot of money in yellow journalism and wealthy parents
a school bus takes visitors up the winding road to “la cuesta encantada”. i climbed on and got a seat by myself. everyone else was coupled up. holding hands. holding each other. reading pamphlets. staring at the guy sitting alone in dark clothes, coughing, chanting “what- the- fuck- this is nuts- what- the- fuck-”
alex trebek narrated the bus ride up.
at the top of the mountain we’re greeted by our tour guide, rick. he’ll take us inside the castle and talk at us for forty-five minutes before setting us free to enjoy the grounds on our own. he’s in his 40’s and charismatic in a vegas lounge lizard who does tourist tours during the day kind of way. the delivery of his script is like a dry run of a high school play: fast and abrasive, insincere
“folksssss mr hearst looooooooooved entertaining-and celebritiessss were regular guests here. at. the-ranchhhhh. it was not uncommon to-find the likes of…… clark gable- greta garbo- cary grant- joan crawford but for those of you young people that’s your ben affleck, courtney cox, ashton kutcher, and kim kardashian” skjenfkjewnr fjh serjv wejfnaw No they are not!!
hearst bought entire rooms of 16th century castles and kept them in storage for decades while he tailored his enchanted slope for them. exotic animals grazed on worldly plants across 60 miles of private land. it is entirely self-contained: it’s own water source, power station, and farm. the only rule for guests is “no shacking up unless married”
rick had the old couples eating out of his hand as he led us from room to room but i felt his affectation like an icicle on the skin of my empathy. i didn’t say a word and smiled the best i could cause it’d be wrong to disrupt The Other’s experience, but he knew. he knew i wasn’t entertained and he knew i was insulted by his lack of free form and inability to match golden-age celebs with their “of this generation”s.
after a short movie he let us go. the rest of my time at hearst castle was spent in the sun: taking pictures of the grounds, chilling by the neptune pool, throwing up in the bathroom without asking rick’s permission. i don’t want to write extensively about rick because this is a positive and uplifting blog of my American experiences but if you gave me $25 for a rick tour i’d spend forty-five minutes comparing him to a lawnmower | rosebud…
the gift shop was closed by the time i got back to the visitors center but i was feeling much better
alex trebek narrated the bus ride down.
listening to raw material’s time and illusion (1969)