I Know Southern California History When I See It

Los Angeles

I back this up with absolutely no credentials or merits of any kind.  I am unqualified beyond belief.  But since moving here many years ago, all my out-of-town friends ask me questions about The Great Southern California Basin, and seem to accept my answers as fact.  Foolish tourists.  So here is a sampling of what I tell them.

Like, You Know, The Valley

The Valley is a vast, geographically flat and emotionally barren, stretch of land that lies 45 minutes to the northwest of anywhere you want to be in Southern California.  It has been mocked and ridiculed throughout its history, and reviled by hipsters with piercings and flavor-savers as a place they would never ever ever live.  That is, until they have kids.  Oh, and then the last laughs can be heard for miles.

First off, let me just say that everything in The Valley does not look the same.  Each of the bazillion strip malls is uniquely different.  How is this possible?   Because there are over 400 shades of beige listed in the official color registry, so people should just get over it.  Besides, Van Gogh’s brilliant colors have yellowed and browned through the years.  The Valley’s plethora of beiges will not suffer that fate.

The weather in The Valley is indescribable.  Meteorologists around the world claim that El Azizia in Libya is the hottest place on Earth, but anyone who has lived in Southern California for 5 minutes or part of September will tell you that just isn’t true.  It’s The Valley.  In fact, when you watch the El Azizia Local News, featuring the Libyan Doppler 7000 in HD, they show temperature readings from Van Nuys.

Finally, once and for all, yes people in The Valley talk funny.  Always have, dude.  Today’s “OMG, that is, like, you know, so, um, like cray-cray, right?” was born from history’s “Would that my astonishment could be banished from my mind’s eye, so that I, nay, all present could portend to comprehend but word oneth of thy prattled speech.”

San Pedro – Long Beach’s Stinky Neighbor

Far to the South of downtown Los Angeles is Long Beach.  Long Beach is where the Queen Mary is permanently docked, and that is something they will never let their stinky neighbor, San Pedro, forget.

Never mind that San Pedro is home to many attractive refineries and the Port of Los Angeles, which holds the distinction of being the number one container port by volume in the United States.  I have no idea what that means, except that there is lots of industry blocking the water views from any hotel.

Many people don’t realize that San Pedro is actually a Native American phrase that means “God forsaken place at the end of the Earth.”

In the days before the arrival of oil leaking vessels and golden parachute CEO’s, the non-union natives of California would frequently bundle up their children in wicker papooses and embark on the Family Vacation – a custom that we still inflict on our families to this very day.

By horseback and on foot, they would spend their council-approved vacation time in close quarters travelling to San Pedro, not so much because of the scenic vistas (believe it or not, those oil tanks are actually natural formations that have been here for millions of years), but because of the journey itself.

Countless bronze-skinned Originals would whine to their parents the lines that still echo in our culture today:  “Are we there yet?  I have to water the sacred ground with my body.”  To which the haggard but colorfully adorned parents, who were regretting that magical night under the stars years earlier, would respond, “We’re not stopping ’till we reach the first refinery altar.  So help me, Babbling Bear, I’ll pull this Pinto over right now . . . ”

Next week . . . the true history of the “other” Valley.

You can’t find this stuff on the internet.  No, I’m serious, you really can’t.

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8 thoughts on “I Know Southern California History When I See It”

  1. oooh, I was on the Queen Mary and looked for ghosts and saw none. But San Pedro was not on the tour. Thanks for the geography lesson. Can’t wait for another round!

    1. Thanks Donna! I hope you were able to have a cocktail in that cool deco bar on the Queen Mary!

    1. Just like our freeways, we have shopping cart traffic jams in Target and Costco stores throughout the SoCal Basin. Store traffic reports on the 5’s on the radio.

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