February 22, 2008

The SoCal/NorCal Divide

Californians are like ... sooo stereotypical. Or so the average American is inclined to believe. And everyone seems to have their minds made up about those crazy west-coasters. But make no mistake, no single culturally infused image can lay claim to such a vast, diverse state. California is home to a plethora of stereotypes. But is there any truth in these perceptions? After all, one man's survey did find that "63 percent of Californians have actually hugged a tree". I'm not here to argue with such remarkable journalism, but I would like to shed some light on a critical component of Californian pseudo-reality ... the North/South divide.

Count me in.

I live in SOUTHERN California. The SOUTHERN is an important distinction. "SoCal" and "NorCal" are two completely different worlds. It's Los Angeles vs. San Francisco ... palm trees vs. redwoods ... Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley. Southern California is the California of movies, valley girls, gang violence, and sunny beaches. Northern California is the land of academics and environmentalists, philosophy and nature. Take a camera and a passport if you travel north from LA, because it's a whole different experience. In fact, most Californian stereotypes can be broken down along geographic divisions and classified as either "NorCal" or "SoCal". For example ... the classic surfer image or the self-absorbed Hollywood star ... clearly "SoCal". And how about the geeky dot-com entrepreneur or the hemp-wearing, pot smoking, living in the trees naturalist ... most definitely, "NorCal".

SoCal Dave

NorCal Dave

Yes, "NorCal" and "SoCal" have there differences ... and the two don't always care much for each other. Google "NorCal vs. SoCal" and you're sure to find some heated online debate. But perhaps the heat is mostly coming from one direction ... in the form of "NorCal Rage." A UC Davis wiki points out that Southern Californians are subjected to much hatred from the North, including "mean-spirited, feverishly-pitched sermons against the practice of using the article 'the' in conjunction with freeway names." The Southerners, however, "are born, live, and die without Northern California's existence ever crossing their minds." Visiting Northerners are "treated with polite bemusement, as emissaries from a distant land that many believed mythical." Regardless of this apathy, many NorCal residents are concerned about a takeover from the south. And if we didn't already have a nice even 50 states, we'd probably be looking at a split.

Side note: In the event of a split, the big question would be what to do with all the rural desert communities and vast subsidized farmlands that lay in between. I'd say give 'em to the north. All those farms soak up the water reserves like Sponge Bob in a rainstorm, so let the "greens" figure that one out. The south has more pressing problems ... like Snoop Dogg's most recent conviction or the latest Britney meltdown.

Where's the love?

But in spite of our differences, there is one thing that unequivocally unites all Californians together ... a deep, heart felt belief that the world drops off into oblivion just beyond our state's border. Californian's LOVE California and, as such, maintain an apathetic disregard for all things non-Californian. Yes, we have our squabbles ... and yes, we are out of touch with the rest of America. But we're not concerned. Long live the Republic of California!