Thursday, September 15, 2005

Planet Pomona

Above, Mrs. Generik points out the sign of the Pomona Market in Prague. In the window display behind her is enough absinthe to fuel three 19th century Impressionist painters for at least a week.

SF Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll wrote an interesting piece a couple days ago about how we're going to lose Pluto, the planet we've all come to know and love as the outermost outpost of our nine-planet solar system. It seems that Pluto just doesn't measure up, planet-size wise, and there are actually bigger objects beyond it in what's known as the Kuiper Belt. Some of those planet-like objects even have names now, thanks to astronomers with powerful telescopes and the propensity to hand out appellations to any and every celestial object they spot. Therein lies the segment of the column that I found most interesting. Mr. Carroll pointed out that the existing planets in the solar system have been named mainly after Roman gods -- Neptune, Jupiter, Mars, etc. -- but that these newly discovered planets are getting names like Xena, Santa and Easterbunny. Okay, Xena has a certain timeless, Roman-esque quality to it, and hey, who am I to argue with lesbian warrior chic? Santa brings its own baggage to mind (one filled with toys for the good little girls and boys, you would hope), a planet covered in snow and populated by reindeer and elves, like some outer space Santa's Village. And hey, hasn't Santa already developed his space cred by conquering the Martians? Easterbunny, though... I mean, come on. Easterbunny? Easterfuckingbunny?!? Are they kidding, or what?

What Mr. Carroll suggested -- and I heartily endorse -- is that these astronomers name a planet after another Roman god (actually goddess, the goddess of fruit), one who has up to now been sorely underrepresented in the firmament. He suggests Pomona as a planetary moniker. Yes! Planet Pomona!

You see, though I've now spent nearly half my life in San Francisco, I'm originally from Pomona, as is the lovely and talented Mrs. Generik. We both grew up in that southern California suburb of Los Angeles, and still retain some fond memories of the place. Once a town filled with acres and acres of orchards, there are still many neighborhoods there where every house has at least one orange or lemon or walnut tree somewhere on the property. We were delighted to find the Pomona Market on Wenceslaus Square in Prague last July, as witnessed by the photos, above. And I know we would both like to be able to say we come from Planet Pomona.

(When we took a road trip visiting baseball stadiums around the country back in 1993, we stayed in a small town just outside of Pittsburgh called Mars. Not much of a there there, but at least if you lived there and people asked you where you were from, you could honestly answer, "Mars." I'd like that sort of thing, myself.)

Planet Pomona would also make me more inclined to pay attention to the bunkum known as astrology. "I have a double Pomona rising, and my moon is in Pomona." "Pomona must be in retrograde today, can you feel it?" "Your chakras are definitely ruled by Pomona. Now get in the lotus position and blow a rose."

That's it. From now on, I'm from Planet Pomona, if anyone asks.


Speaking of Chronicle columnists, check out Jon Carroll's page-mate Leah Garchik's column from yesterday's edition. You may find a familiar name in the penultimate item there. Are my fifteen minutes up yet?
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