Tuesday, January 30, 2007

City Mouse, Suburb Mouse

So I've been thinking about this Long Island-New Jersey rivalry and I've realized what is so amusing/ridiculous about the whole thing.

I was thinking it reminds me of the Washington D.C. area rivalry between Virginia and Maryland. I used to be so amused by the disdain that would creep into my Maryland friends' voices when they spoke of an acquaintance: "She lives in -- VirGINia!" Then again, when I was there opening the new Borders in Silver Spring, MD, we were driving along the beltway and you could just tell when you'd crossed over into Virginia. Suddenly the cars all had U.S. flag bumper stickers. But, despite my issues with the state (which are decidedly farther southeast, along the coast) some of my best friends are in Virginia! True! All along that Fairfax orange line, even as far as Manassas...

The point is that the Virginia-Maryland rivalry is kind of silly, too. Just like the Long Island-New Jersey rivalry. And here's why.

Really, all that insecurity comes from the fact that they just aren't as cool as D.C.! Or New York City!

The rivalry, the jibes aimed at another land of suburbia and parkways, the traded insults -- they all just mask the fact that, let's face it, you aren't cosmopolitan enough to just Live. In. The. City.

So I was thinking about this in terms of my former home of Los Angeles (a city that knows a thing or two about cool, not to mention insecurity). And the way it goes down out there just makes so much more sense. Of course there's rivalry. In fact, there are two. First of all, there's The Valley. As in, "like, omigod, i'm totally a valley girl." People who live in the San Fernando Valley talk of going "over the hill" into the city of L.A. And people in Hollywood, West Hollywood, Silverlake, Echo Park, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and so on make all kinds of fun of The Valley. Even the Valley's AREA CODE (818) was seen as having a lesser status than the decidedly cooler area codes (213) and (310), although then (323) came along and that was pretty good too...

The catch, of course, is that "the Valley" is part of the incoporated city of Los Angeles! Whereas Santa Monica, for example, is not. (It has its own city government that is actually often referred to as the "people's republic of santa monica.") But every few elections the secession issue comes up on the ballot for the Valley to just secede from the Los Angeles and become its own city of San Fernando. Because really, you're just either a City Mouse or a Valley Mouse.

There's a SECOND rivalry, though, to the south: L.A. vs. Orange County. And sorry, generation next, but it just sounds dumb to say "The O.C." no matter how much you enjoyed your little steamy teen soap. Anyway, there are definitely Orange County people, and they are definitely not like Angelenos. For one thing, they vote more overwhelmingly Republican. Even the Valley doesn't do that.

But what you don't find is a bunch of jackasses in Orange County trashing the Valley, nor a bunch of Encino/Sherman Oaks/Northridge fools prattling on about Irvine, or Newport Beach, or San Clemente. Instead, everyone focuses their competition and thinly veiled insults on the real matter at hand: "Am I as cool as the L.A. city people?" (Answer: no.)

So, why oh why can't these Long Island/New Jersey (and those Maryland/Virginia people) just realize the truth of it all: you suck, you wish you lived in the City, and that's why we people from outside of your little tri-state or multi-county area look at you like you're crazy when you passionately assure us how much cooler you are than your rival land of strip malls.

1 comment:

jnap said...

Okay, Linda, so having lived in Texas for close to thirty years, I can tell you that true Native Texans think that the world is Texas and NON TEXAS, and WHY would you have NON TEXAS....