Everyone thinks that California is a namby-pamby wuss state filled with laid-back surfer dudes and brain-dead actresses. At least, that’s what my uncles back in Cleveland think. I’m not going to lie. Some of that element exists – especially in Los Angeles. On some nights the air is so thick with unwashed dude hair and Jack Johnson music and girls drinking cosmotinis and smoking American Spirits that I just want to “get out of my BMW and run off into the hills, or whatever” like Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.
(Above: UCL before running off into the hills or whatever.)
I want to set the record straight. California is no wuss state. California is only for those who have ice in their veins and fire in their hearts and lukewarm ventricles in-between. My people – Californians – traveled across this great land of ours and didn’t stop until we found weather worth risking our and our children’s lives for. This is a state whose citizens could be killed for owning a home (forest fires), passing someone in traffic (freeway shootings) or walking outside (riots). “A man goes to Missouri to live,” I imagine Josiah California said upon discovering the state, “but a man who comes to California, he comes here to die. Go forth and build donut shops.”
(Above: Josiah California doesn’t like the looks of some punk kids at what would eventually become the corner of Melrose and La Brea in Los Angeles.)
My intent is not to belittle wherever you are from – unless it’s Pennsylvania. At worst your state’s challenges include snow, crime, rain and Pennsylvanians. All of those issues can be dealt with. California’s challenges are things its citizens can’t be protected from. You can’t prepare for the problems we face. Things like severe droughts, flash floods, arson, mudslides and the continued existence of the Los Angeles Clippers.
As I write this column the state of California faces explosive fire growth potential, according to weather forecasters. That’s right. Your state is potentially damp from a light afternoon rain followed by patches of fog. My state could potentially explode from fire. There are 1,700 fires burning right now. The Terminator is our governor and there is almost nothing he can do. Only a state like California can make the one guy from “Twins” look like the other guy from “Twins.”
(Above: A major motion picture proves my point.)
And that’s because California doesn’t fuck around.
It doesn’t fuck around because – I think I am going to be the first person to ever say this – California is a Man State.
What’s a Man State? I’ll define it. A Man State must meet the following criterion. It must be a place where a man – or woman – goes to carve out his or her place in the world. Examples: California, New York, Texas. It must be fraught with natural and manmade peril. Examples: California, Florida, Colorado. It must be home to at least two professional sports teams or host one extreme, death-defying sporting event that no sane person would ever participate in. Examples: California, Wisconsin, Alaska.
California is a Man State, and if it seems like we have an abundance of wimpy men and brainless women, it is only because they could not exist in nature without Man protection. This is what Ayn Rand meant when she wrote Atlas Shrugged. Her novel didn’t just tell the story of a failing railroad, it was also a philosophic treatise that centered on how the weak need the strong. It’s just too bad she didn’t beat the reader over the head with this point over and over and over, because if she had, she would have ruined an otherwise enjoyable book, so it’s a good thing she didn’t.
Can women live in a Man State? Yes. As I have written before, women are the new men.
In 2004 I wrote:
“While a significant number of men are hanging out in mom’s basement playing Madden 2004 online, more women are moving to big cities, landing jobs and prowling for men. This used to be the man’s job – the moving, the working, the prowling. Now women are beating us at our own game.”
The three biggest Man States:
Our women inject their faces with botulism to please our men. Do your women do that, Alabama? Advantage: California.
The Sunshine State is second only to California in terms of the sheer inexplicable insanity faced by its citizens on a daily basis. Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry owe their careers to a fortunate marriage of talent and geography.
So manly, mostly men live there.
The three biggest Wuss States:
Tied-1. New Hampshire & Vermont
At Thanksgiving, New Hampshire’s grandmother always calls Vermont “New Hampshire’s special friend.” No one says anything, but we all know what that means.
Try to think of Oregon without picturing a 42-year-old man in overalls bragging about his hemp socks. Can’t be done.
California is hard. It’s cut-throat. It’s dangerous. When Connecticut dreams of running away from the East Coast, it dreams of taking a bus to Los Angeles and getting off on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and You-Might-Be-A-Prostitute-Within-Six-Months Avenue. It’s worth the risk. It has to take the chance. This is where the action is. Connecticut might end up a whore, but it’s only because she was taking her shot.
Your state has grapes.
California’s grapes have wrath.