Archive for Friday, October 18, 2002

World Series pairing civil war for some

October 18, 2002

Advertisement

— To outsiders, the World Series is a California contest between Anaheim and San Francisco. To Californians, it's a north-south grudge match, a showdown between darkness and light.

At least that's the way Northern Californians see it. Their simmering, century-old disdain for the south boils up at times like this, when they can revel in the belief they inhabit their own superior state.

If a one-way rivalry can exist, this is it. Southern Californians tend to be blissfully unaware or unconcerned that their neighbors think they are self-absorbed, smog-addled, cultureless water-hoggers who are less real than reality television.

"I'm a little hurt. They don't even know me," said Marleen Madge, who works in Orange County, Anaheim Angels territory.

Don't want to, say the hostile northerners.

"I'm waiting for the earthquake down there that will split north and south perfectly," said a gleeful Jerry Klein, a New York native who moved to San Rafael in 1968.

"We look down our nose at Southern California mostly because it's all style and no substance," said Carmel's Larry Gerbrandt, a lifelong Northern Californian. "It's all about how thin you are, how famous you are or how many famous people you know."

Even the grand tradition of newspaper columnists dueling over their hometown baseball teams becomes unbalanced here.

The San Francisco Examiner's John Crowley dissed Orange County as "a place more homogenized than a glass of milk" when compared to "cosmopolitan San Francisco."

Dana Parsons of the Los Angeles Times defended the county's diversity and then fired back. Or tried to. "If it's a war of words John Crowley wants ... I give up. I can't think of anything awful to say about San Francisco. At least, nothing I'd really mean. Fact is, I love that town."

California's self-proclaimed better half boasts of the daring technology of Silicon Valley, the cultural depths of San Francisco's opera, ballet and museums, and the beauty of the ancient redwoods.

While many of the accusations represent debatable ego trips is the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena not culture? What of Universal Studios and Disneyland? the scarce commodity of water has long been a source of bitter feuding.

Southern California is cast by the north as a water villain, filching from agriculture to keep itself afloat in icy margaritas and sea-blue swimming pools. Northern and central California farmers, on the other hand, say they're the ones feeding America.

"It's not their water. God gave it to all of us," retorts author and state librarian Kevin Starr. It's outdated to look at water as a regional issue, he said.

"Today, we tend to look at water resources not as north-south but urban, suburban, agricultural. We know now that rice crops of Northern California absorb as much water per year as Los Angeles city," he said. "That's just two competing goods."

But who wants to let details get in the way of good wrath? Besides, Northern California's scorn has roots that go deeper than a water table.

Flash back to 1850, when the state was founded and San Francisco ruled the California roost, flush with Gold Rush fever and burgeoning financial resources.

"Los Angeles was considered a cow town," said Donald Waldie, an author and city official in Lakewood. "San Francisco was the capitalistic capital of the West and it retained that role well into the 20th century."

The Civil War brought further conflict. Northerners backed President Lincoln and the Union; so many in the lower part of the state sympathized with the Confederacy that a divided state was contemplated, Waldie said.

Get over the past, Starr suggests to those dwelling in a "sort of Venetian twilight of San Francisco decline."

"I think it's massive insecurity on the part of San Franciscans who have really not controlled the state of California since the 1960s," he said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.

loading...