- The Washington Times - Friday, October 18, 2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) 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.

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 It's outdated to look at water as a regional issue, he said.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 Abraham 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.

Can the state's largely ignored midsection add to the debate? Turns out central California, America's most productive farmland, has little love for either north or south.

The Bay Area, despite its environmental stripes, is the source of some of the middle region's terrible smog. The south has that water-glutton rap.

"They're both flaky," said Robert Cowan at Firebaugh Ag Supply, west of Fresno. "They sure find plenty of ways to screw up our valley."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide