Because the love of my life hails from the Berkley/San Francisco area, we cruise up the 5 on occasion to socialize with members of his extended family. The NorCcal circle includes some best friends from his former life, his really cool ex-wife, (I know, it’s unusual, but she and I get along) his fab daughter and assorted tech wizards. Invariably the discussion always gets around to ‘how horrible LA is and how wonderful Berkely or ANY place in Northern California is’. In fact, “How can you two bear living here?”

Now, I do love San Francisco and Berkley…. but I have also lived in Los Angeles for 24 years, so I’m a hard core semi-native. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the sweet spots on the planets, especially when you load in all the ‘living here’ data. So, I’m the lone dissenter in rallying to her cause in these discussions. In my world, people in LA don’t even think about comparing themselves to our Northern sister. It’s just not too relevant a discussion. But up there they go on and on about how intellectually inferior people are in LA, how boob jobs and appearances seem more important than anything, and how we don’t have enough social awareness going on. The vibe is that in LA it’s all about money, money, more money and looks.

Okay, so there is a surface to the place. It’s pretty shiny. And it can throw you off course if you let it. But the real LA lies beneath it’s beautiful, sometimes languid surface. My experience is that there are some ridiculously talented, smart, fun, spiritually aware, people here. And sometimes they even look good. And hey! What’s wrong with beauty. It soothes the soul! Even funnier to me is that Berkeley and Northern CA are traditionally where the idea of “universal love” originated. If so, wouldn’t that mean embracing everyone? See, that’s where I think we get into trouble. The whole ‘Us vs.Them’ idea. Whether it’s the Westside vs. the Eastside, LA vs SF or Israel vs. Palestine, we are all one when you get down to it.
Yes, we girls in LA sometimes do wear ‘come fuck me’ shoes rather than the Berkely Teva staple… merely to get your attention mind you. But that doesn’t mean one is better than the other. Just different.

23 thoughts on “NorCAL Vs. SoCAL”

  1. A longtime Los Angelino, I lived in Los Altos for several years, and am back now.

    The thing that struck me while in NoCal was that people there are really obsessed about how much better things are there than here, and how weird we all are, and so on. Meanwhile people in SoCal pretty much don’t even think about NoCal much, and if we do, it’s like “hey, do whatever, and we’ll do whatever, too”.

    While we were up North people would say “wow, I bet you’re really glad to be here”, and we’d say “yeah we are, but we really liked SoCal too…”.

    I think there is some kind of inferiority thing going on up there :)

    P.S. Nothing whatever wrong with FMPs.

  2. I moved from SF to LA last September (reluctantly, but my partner was accepted to grad school down here so we had to come). I can confirm that everyone in SF obsesses over how much better NoCal is than SoCal. They also obsess over whether SF is better than NY. Which I always found funny, because I am pretty sure nobody in LA or NY sits around making lists of how their town is better than SF.

    LA can be tough on visitors looking for something beyond Hollywood & Highland or the Sunset Strip. I had to move here to learn about the diversity of ethnicities represented here, and the great restaurants, and the lively performing arts scene. I still struggle with the vastness of the place, and all the driving it requires, but the size means there’s even more to do and see. That isn’t immediately obvious when you’re just down here on a long weekend.

    Also, SF has plenty of image-conscious residents, the difference is that they’re chasing a grungier/artier/funkier image.

  3. LA is full of trust fund rich kids who look and act like trust fund rich kids, whereas SF is filled with trust fund rich kids who try to pretend they are brokedick street urchins and starving artists. What’s more phony than that?

  4. Hi. I feel like I am beating a dead horse addressing this topic, but ok. A friend of mine put it best when he said that “SF and LA are in some competition that only SF knows about”.

    Pretty much sums it up.

    People in LA pretty much never compare themselves to SF. In my 20 years here, I could count on no hands the number of times I have heard someone do that. In SF it seems to be the thing to do. But I always wonder is it more natives who do that, or the transplants.

    There is not even close to that level of competition between LA and NY. When my NY friends come to LA, I show them a good time and they appreciate it. When I go to NY, they show me a good time and I appreciate it.

    SF is nice, but there delusions of superiority really are not becoming. Their whole image of LA is based on what they have seen in “Crocodile Dundee Goes to Los Angeles” or something like that. As a previous commenter alluded to, the LA they are talking about exists on the Sunset Strip and Hollywood and Highland. LA and surrounding areas are huge, so either they have never been here, or they have come as tourists to see Mann’s Chinese.

    I’ve lived here for a long time and I don’t know one person with a boob job or one person who is trying to sell a script.

    Coop your comment was brilliant.

  5. I’m guessing your misspelling Berkeley on porpoise as a snub, right? Right.

  6. I live in and love LA. I love SF. LA has In-N-Out and SF has House of Nanking. Other than that, they both pale in comparison to Paris. Au revoir.

  7. Oh man, those Norcal people are so annoying. I’ve heard it all from those folks and now it’s my hobby to shoot them down.

    I don’t understand why one has to be cooler than the other, but if they want to go that route, then they can go ahead. I guess they have a problem dealing with ambiguity. They come through on the 5 or 405 at shithead hours like 5pm on a Friday and think that’s all LA has to offer. Well, the last time I was in “The City” I spent about an hour waiting to cross the Bay Bridge on a Saturday afternoon and then another hour trying to find parking – but I guess I’m smart enough to realize that if I was a local that there would be a hundred better ways to go where I was going. Those stupid fucking turds.

    Look, San Francisco is beautiful. California is beautiful. I just graduated from UC Santa Cruz so I had plenty of time to soak (sometimes literally) in all that Norcal stuff (heh, even though SC is South of the center). When I heard people up there shitting on LA I got the same feelings as when I was traveling abroad for over a year. Countless times I heard indignant Foreignesians talking about what a shithole the entire United States was. Its citizenry as well – present company was always excluded, of course (fuckers). I’m no big America Fuck Yeah type guy but I found myself defending my country after a while. I mean, California is pretty rad. My friends are pretty rad. I hate Republican politics and how they’ve fucked up everything but somewhere along the way I learned to separate governments from their citizens.

    The America hating crowd always thought that they were so well informed when they shat on us. Unfortunately for them, I was usually the first American that they had ever had a serious conversation with. It was never quite clear to them that everything they knew about this place was based on news stories (and if you’ve ever been present at a newsworthy event and then seen it portrayed in the news, you know how well that works out), movies, or TV shows. The first being a skewed perspective and the latter two being complete fiction.

    These San Francisco people have their heads up their asses in a similar way. Their friend they “visited in LA once” is invariably that guy who uses a lot of gel in his hair and thinks that strip clubs are the height of cultural achievement. Good taste in friends, assholes.

    Here’s what I tell everybody: “Yeah, wow, that must’ve been bad traffic – you picked the worst time to be there, I’m never on the freeway for very long ever”. Or I tell them that LA is probably the shittiest place ever to visit, but a really, really nice place to live. I really believe that. Sure, we have all that glitzy shit going on but who cares about that. LA is all about options. It’s a huge place. It’s disorganized and spread out and pretty inconvenient at times. This is the ambiguous part that fucks with their small minds. The best part about LA is exploration. Everything isn’t in one Bohemian Yuppie Disney World sized area. You have to find everything. You have to make connections with the people you meet everywhere. The whole area is incredibly diverse, geologically and ethnically. It all seems very tribal to me. You find your crowd/s of whatever types of people you want to associate yourself with (even, gasp! intellectuals!) and you find places to hang out with them. Yes, I know, SF snobs, it’s all rather inconvenient, but that’s what makes it so fun. You explore and explore and find more and more crazy shit. By the time you go to the first places you found, they’ve changed and been replaced by something else trippy. You would know that if you knew anyone worthwhile here.

    Exploration. That’s the kind of stuff they’re supposed to like, right? See, the problem with these LA-hating people from San Francisco is that they don’t realize that LA is actually cooler than they are.

  8. Hey will-
    Ha ha…. I had the correct spelling for Berkeley, but my spell check kept kicking it back….so I changed it and it worked, so the joke is on THIS Angeleno! Anyway…just some musings on vive la differance! It’s actually all wonderful. California Rocks.

  9. amen! glad to know my friends and i aren’t the only ones to notice the “rivalry” that san francisco wants to have with la la land : )

  10. I was born and raised in the Bay Area, went to school in “The City”, moved to helLA for 4 years, moved to New York City for 7, Phili for 1 and then back to helLA since 1999. I once had that “LA sucks”, “The City” is cooler attitude. I hated heLA, I hated everyone from helLA. I’d never been to LA or met anyone from LA. It’s just part of being in “The City”.

    Recently, one of my oldest friends from “The City” who swore heLA was a stupid place ended up moving here. Guess what, he got the dream job, met the best woman ever, rides motorcycles year round and swears he wished he left San Franciso 10 years ago.

    Heres a funny story. Visiting Seattle we stopped into a small cafe. The “oh so cool” counter girl asked us where we were from. I replied “Los Angeles” Her reply, “wow, most people won’t admit that in this town”. Yeah, living in Seattle serving coffee is so cool, STFU coffee wench.

  11. @Hexodus “But I always wonder is it more natives who do that, or the transplants.”

    I came to the conclusion that it’s the transplants. I went to Cal and the only people that truly insisted on the Bay vs LA pissing contest were people NOT from the area – most of the people who I knew were born and bred in the Bay could give a rat’s ass about what was going on in LA.

  12. It seems as if the Frisco-eans want to convince themselves that this vast complex city has nothing to offer, is simply shallow, and therefore they can pretend to ignore us, almost as if they want to WILL that illusion into reality.

    I agree with Dale though, the few people that I’ve met that are actually from SF tend to be much more level headed about their own city and are often interested to hear about what’s happening in LA.

    Might as well throw this out again: if you’re interested in this topic, you need to check out the book or dvd “In Smog and Thunder” a hilarious escalation of this SF-LA war. Of course, Los Angeles wins!

  13. Dining out with friends in North Beach one night and we asked the owner, who used to live in Burlyhills, which city he preferred, SF or LA. He leaned over and very quietly said “L.A.”

    There are a lot of Friscotypes who would not readily admit their dislike of the Bay Area’s second largest city. However, USA Today just reported that Frisco lost more than 30,000 people since 2000, a 4.2% decline. Meanwhile, L.A. gained more than 150,000 people.

  14. People from The City hate it when you call their city “Frisco” that’s how they can tell you’re from Los Angeles. Not that I care what they think or anything.

  15. ROTFLMAO, Michael #1… coffee wench indeed… had someone say something like that to me when I was in, of all places, Lodi. LODI!!! As in, “stuck in Lodi again”… NorCal for ya. Cowshit and cheap grapes, floodplains and hazy air. So what’s so different?

    San Fran is a great city, no doubt about that. Maybe someday they’ll just wake up and realize it. Then there won’t be any more of this “hey – wanna fight? Wanna fight??? Hey… HEY!!!! Hey…??? stuff up there. Seems like we here in LA have better things to do. Besides, the Dodgers aren’t doing too bad this year – at least they are leading the Gi-aints.

  16. I’m originally from the midwest but after college, I lived in Oakland for 8 years, then Seattle for 3 years, and now L.A. for the last 6 years.

    L.A. rocks ’em all.

    S.F. is undeniably gorgeous. Per capita, the food is better than L.A.’s. And if you’re into bicycling, kayaking, hiking, skiing, or camping, the Bay area is a better homebase than L.A.

    But man oh man is the Bay area pretentious, parochial, and patronizing. (And I’m an incurable liberal/Republican-hater.)

    You’ll find more “anti-XYZ” sentiment in the Bay area, especially Berkeley/Oakland/SF, than you will in supposedly “conservative” SoCal. More tsk-tsking, more dissing, more hate than you’ll find in LA per capita. Berkeley and SF in particular are two of the most demogogically close-minded cities I’ve ever been in. The leftist orthodoxy might as well be Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward.

    Ah, but L.A., beautiful, sexy, cool, chic, open-minded, let-it-all-hang-out L.A.

    The magic of Los Angeles, really, is that there are a dozen Los Angeleses. You just have to find the right 3 or 4 that resonate with who you are. You’re not 90210? You’re not People’s Republic of Santa Monica? You’re not Silverlake hipster? You’re not The Real Wives of Orange County? Doesn’t matter! You will find your community, your vibe, your food, YOUR PEEPS in L.A. if you look hard enough.

    And you’ll enjoy your life and making a living without the politburo passing judgment on why your Toyota Prius should really be keyed in parking lots because it’s still a car and you should feel guilty for driving a car and why don’t you give me some change man so I can score some meth and fuck you for not giving me money.

    There. Got it out.

    The Bay area is beautiful. It’s also so fucking full of itself it can’t even see how ridiculous it is.

    And they call Angelenos shallow. They’re just jealous cuz we’re sexier than them. Tammara, you keep wearing them CFM shoes and I’ll keep lusting after your legs.

  17. This whole one-sided SF vs. LA rivalry is so last century. Once we build a bullet train along the Califonia coast Sf will just be an exerb of LA.

  18. This whole one-sided SF vs. LA rivalry is so last century. Once we build a bullet train along the Califonia coast Sf will just be an exerb of LA.

  19. I know
    I was born in SF but raised in L.A I went back to SF after college for a job and found out about the hating which was really interseting because LA thinks SF is cool ( and it is really beautiful) but unless they’ve spent some time up there no one from LA really knows about competition.

  20. While I spent most of my life in L.A. (San Gabriel Valley/Pasadena,) I’ve just returned from two years in the Bay Area. It seems redundant to echo the comments above, but they’re all correct.

    Frisco (I call it that to annoy them) and all Bay Area residents have this inferiority complex that requires them to keep telling themselves that they’ve got it better. There are so many cars up there with self-validating “NOR*CAL” stickers that stretch across the entire back window, it’s ridiculous. I got the same comments when I told people I was from L.A. “Oh, I’m sorry.” “How could you live there?” “I bet you’re much happier here.” Well, no, in fact I’m not. That’s why I returned to L.A. The Bay Area is a nice place to visit, but L.A. is home for a reason.

    The SF vs. LA rivalry is definitely something conjured in the minds of Bay Area residents to give themselves something to hold on to. The Dodgers vs. Giants rivalry, on the other hand…
    F’ them! Giants suck! Go Blue!

  21. It’s not an inferiority complex–it’s a fear.

    San Franciscans worry about LA and its car culture the same way radical pro-lifers worry about all the world’s aborted fetuses.

  22. frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, frisco, ….

    take that you sexy, stuck up town.

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