Recognizing our better half: The vitriolic NorCal versus SoCal debate rages on without any consensus

    Hop on Interstate 5 and drive for hella long. If you hit the border, turn around; repeat.

    But first, sell that surfboard. Donate any garment with the word Independent, Volcom, Hurley or Roxy on it to the local Veterans’ Association. Put on some damn shoes. Inspect the rim of your toilet; that’s what color your hair is supposed to be. You’re not really blonde, remember?

    When you see a sign for I-580, you’re there. NorCal. Note the “”r.””

    It’s a strange land. What’s that? It’s not a palm tree — it must be some sort of other tree. What’s this? We just left one town and we’re not yet in the next town. Is that some sort of new sport? It’s football. We have that here. Is that the sky? It’s blue. Why am I so cold? I told you, put on some damn shoes. Reefs don’t count.

    Northern California versus Southern California: The rivalry has existed since at least the founding of the UC system. Each year, boys and girls fresh out of high school show up at their respective UC campuses, and each year, they all make the observation that people from the other half of California are a bit different.

    Some say “”hella,”” others say “”grip.”” Some wonder why others feel the need to put a definite article before the name of a highway. Dorm friendships formed between Dodgers fans and Giants fans seem tenuous and perpetually on the verge of fisticuffs. Dining hall disputes over how much colder it actually is up there can become ugly, but the peace is generally kept.

    Happily, the debate rages beyond freshman year. Even better, I am on the winning side. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying Northern California is superior. It’s just better.

    We’re in college, so let’s begin with the booze. There is a region in NorCal that is literally called “”wine country”” — and all those people thought the land of milk and honey sounded good. In this beautiful region, all one has to do is walk into a winery, and the hospitable staff will provide glasses of their best — often for free. They even supply spittoons.

    Alas, there is no Southern California equivalent to the grape-laden regions of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino. Go into a store in Los Angeles or San Diego and check out the wine section. All the good stuff is from up north, and the few wines from Southern California are generally allocated to the lower shelves.

    No SoCal versus NorCal discussion is complete without addressing professional sports.

    Los Angeles, population 3.7 million, has no football team. This is serious. Neither the Rams nor the Raiders could stand it there, and neither team was even any good until it finally jumped ship.

    Northern California, on the other hand, is steeped in football tradition. The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most successful sports organizations in history, responsible for Jerry Rice, Joe Montana and the West Coast Offense. The Oakland Raiders had their own dynasty in the 1970s, led by John Madden and a punishing defense.

    The best thing about the San Diego Chargers is Seau’s restaurant, and that’s overpriced.

    Baseball is where it gets interesting: The Dodgers and the Giants are solid squads (though the Dodgers certainly pay a lot more for theirs), and the Padres and Athletics have their good years, too. We need not mention the Angels.

    With baseball, it is the fans that tip the scales in favor of the north. Giants and Dodgers fans are pretty comparable in their fervor, but it’s the other teams that show the disparity.

    In 1997, sightings of Padres hats around San Diego were few and far between. In 1998, the year they went to the World Series, all of a sudden everyone around here became a lifelong Padres fan and the gear was everywhere. The amount of Padres regalia was insane. Where the heck were they? Where the heck are they now? Not at Padres games.

    And good lord, why do SoCal teams feel the need to sing “”Take Me Out to the Ball Game”” twice, back-to-back? They’re cheapening the song and wasting valuable Jumbotron time that could be better used for showing bloopers, fat guys who paint their bellies and children with too-big hats dancing on their dads’ heads. The sports case is closed.

    In terms of beauty, the north cannot be beat.

    The Lake Tahoe area is breathtaking year-round, with hiking and camping in the summer and fall, and skiing and snowboarding in the winter and spring months.

    Point Reyes and Big Sur are how we do the beach. They are secluded, surrounded by amazing natural scenery, and not overcrowded. The coast can be bitterly cold, but that means people have to wait until summer to get that tan — as they should.

    That’s right, there are seasons up there. There’s nothing like some rain and cold to make you appreciate the beautiful summers and springs. Sure, it’s temperate down here, but big deal. It’s never really clear because of all the smog. Look toward the horizon: The sky is brown. The sky is never supposed to be brown.

    When it comes down to it, the cities of SoCal simply do not stack up. San Francisco is so diverse and filled with culture, it is often difficult to know what country you’re in. Sacramento is bustling with California politics.

    As we all know, San Diego is boring. L.A. does have Hollywood, Santa Monica Boulevard and so forth. A case could be made for those constituting culture and diversity. On the other hand, a case could be made for those constituting the antithesis of culture and diversity.

    It cannot be denied that the entertainment center of the world is Hollywood, with its throngs of movie stars and musicians. Well, NorCal isn’t hurtin’ in that respect, either. There’s a little company up there called Lucas Films. In fact, George Lucas came up with the idea for Imperial Walkers after looking at the giant cargo container cranes on the Oakland harbor. To top it off, the greatest actor of all time, Clint Eastwood, lives in the little town of Carmel. In fact, he was mayor there a few years back.

    On the topic of culture, the food situation in Southern California is depressing.

    There’s no damn bread down here. Sure, there’s “”bread,”” but anyone who has tried Semifreddi’s or Grace breads from up north can attest to the fact that that spongy stuff in plastic bags they hock down here is horse feed, at best.

    There’s no damn pizza down here. “”But what about BJ’s?”” But what about BJ’s? Stop whining. If you love BJ’s so much, go get some. But trust me, Zachary’s Pizza in Oakland is better. The place is a crap-hole, but it’s still a famous Bay area eatery, and it’s always lively. Want to go cheap? Go to Blondie’s in Berkeley. It’s also a crap-hole, but for a couple of bucks, they give out enormous slices of pie with so much garlic goodness it’s futile to attempt to keep your toes uncurled.

    Of course, this entire debate boils down to a matter of tastes. It’s just that NorCal comes off tasting better.

    And let’s face it: Had we gotten into Cal, we wouldn’t even be reading this article. You know it’s true.

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