In many ways the Santa Monica pier feels like the end of America. One of the few remaining piers left on the California coast, it features a road sign that reads “End of Route 66,” under which tourists pose for photos. It feels like the desperate end; the country’s last attempt to extend itself just a few more inches on the world map.
One step onto the pier ensures a journey to see its final railing, a journey that takes you past a menagerie of all things American.
Past the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant. Past the cheap stalls peddling hats and booty shorts that read “This ass isn’t going to spank itself.” Past the smiling family all holding hands. Past the old man trying to take a picture of his wife, saying “I don’t think it’s working, Erma.” Past the Chinese man playing a shamisen, and past the guy playing the violin, both seemingly playing the same song only fifty feet apart. Past the boob-jobs and the immaculate tans, and the teeming mixture of people both stunning and stunted. Get past all that and you reach the end, where a few people mill against the railing, and some Mexicans fish and eat oysters, chatting happily.
There you might also see a shabby teenager with poorly bleached hair, who is clearly mad and abandoned. He screams, and shouts “Fuck America!” The Mexicans stop chatting, and the people leaning on the railing turn and laugh, unsure whether or not this is a joke or something serious, but it’s amusing anyway.