ILMX007 Battle Cry of the West

Illustration by Kirstin Makela   Website

Cars. The Pacific Coast. Glorious sunsets. The whole time I was growing up, I wanted to avoid being part of this cliche. But as hard as I tried to leave it all behind me, to seek solace in the urbanity of the East, my homecoming back to the Golden State was inevitable.

I read once that California got its name from a fictional island paradise in a 16th century romance novel, written by a Spanish adventurer. This California of 1510 was inhabited by only women, ruled by a pagan warrior queen.

Well my 21st century California is not that far off. The women in my life can lay direct claim to my comings and goings from this state – my mom who packed up her life and towed her supportive husband and 2 young kids to fulfill her lifelong ambitions of stardom… the best friend (and unknowing object of my teenaged longings) who convinced me all through junior high and high school that we were destined for something greater than all this unrelenting sunshine and suburban optimism… my tough-as-nails agent who told me I wouldn’t get any further than the mid-level gigs I was booking if I didn’t at least meet with some “people” out west… and finally, the love of my life for whom I finally closed the door of my cramped apartment behind me and flew cross country to join.

She wasn’t the only one to go before me. Friends and peers, whose vitality sustained me in the city, all started moving out west. Slowly the “I don’t hate it out here“s and “I’m just doing this for my career“s became “it’s better than I thought it would be” and “I actually kinda love it“. Eventually they were all singing the same tune of “why aren’t you out here already?” and “we’re waiting for you!“.

Still, I resisted for as long as I could. When my girl told me she wanted to give Cali a try, I couldn’t go along with it. I was so vehement in not wanting to go that I was prepared to let her go and wallow in my own misery for the rest of my life. I was wrong of course. I’m not so stupid that I can’t recognize home is where she is, and where they are – my friends and yes, even my family.

The sunshine I once hated (dressing like Robert Smith in suburban Burbank will do that to any teenager) now lets me sit out on the patio in my shorts all day long while I do what I love. I get to see the brilliant ombre of coral and pink hues stream through my kitchen window almost every evening while I wait for salt-air breezes to kick in. And finally, I get to say “I love you” to my own Queen Calafia who rules over her own kingdom of Amazons.


  1. Dressy Bessy – California
  2. Woods – Cali in a Cup
  3. Luna – California (All the Way)
  4. Dirty Projectors – Temecula Sunrise
  5. Beulah – Gene Autry
  6. Boy In Static – Young San Francisco
  7. Yo La Tengo – Move To California
  8. The Decemberists – California One / Youth And Beauty Brigade
  9. Beulah – The Battle Cry Of The West
  10. Low – California
  11. Grandaddy – El Caminos In The West
  12. RAC – Hollywood (feat. Penguin Prison)
  13. !!! – Californiyeah
  14. Poolside – California Sunset

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Artist Bio

  • Kirstin Makela assists in the creation of magical kingdoms as a Graphic Designer for Walt Disney Imagineering. I had the pleasure of working with Kirstin when we both started our Disney careers around the same time.
  • Her design work ranges from traditional logos and posters to large-scale marquees and dimensional graphics. When you walk into the Parks, you’re probably looking at a KMak’s handiwork without even knowing it.
  • Kirstin is highly influenced by the history of art and design. She likes to use visual cues and references to give her designs a deeper backstory. She finds inspiration in shapes and colors. The bolder, the better!

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