Grudge City - Page 2

Northern versus Southern California—an age-old tug-of-war tradition that evokes the Hatfields and McCoys
Grudge City
Up North, some folks think of L.A. as "La-La Land"—killer smog, jammed freeways, Hollywood phoniness, and locals still stoked on the wild surf.


But is it really a war? Artist Sandow Birk thinks so.

In an exhibit and a book, Birk provided a startling, illustrated history of the ‘Great War of the Californias,’ which began in an undetermined year in an alternative universe that blends a bit of the future and a bit of the past.

“More than three million Californians fought in it,” Birks writes of the war, “and over 20,000 died in it…In the two days of fighting at the battle of Van Nuys, 2,000 died in a mere forty minutes.”

Birk’s In Smog and Thunder: Historical Works from The Great War of the Californias charts the battles and the heroism, from the initial shots fired from the “craggy bluff of Big Sur” through “the devastating Battle of San Francisco,” with an artillery barrage on the city from atop Twin Peaks.

Although Birk doesn’t make the point, many observers place much of the blame for the war on San Franciscans.

“They seem to hate us a lot more than we hate them,” longtime Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda said of San Francisco Giants fans. You’ll hear no dispute from Carl Nolte, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter for more than 50 years whose column, ‘Native Son,’ emphasizes that he is a San Franciscan born and bred.

“You go to a Giants-Dodgers game here and everyone’s yelling ‘Beat L.A.,’” Nolte says. “But you go to the same game in Los Angeles and they don’t seem to care about that silly stuff.”

“We SoCalians have no idea why they don't like us,” says Charles Phoenix, the Southern California retro humorist, “‘cuz we love them!”

In fairness, it does need to be noted that San Franciscans aren’t the only people with disdain for La-La Land. A national ‘favorability’ survey in 2012 ranked Los Angeles near the bottom. “Only Oakland and Detroit drew more unfavorable responses,” the Los Angeles Weekly reported. “They hate us, they really hate us!”