Grudge City - Page 4

Northern versus Southern California—an age-old tug-of-war tradition that evokes the Hatfields and McCoys
Grudge City
Three illustrations from artist Sandow Birk's fictitious clash of North and South
(brought to life in his book In Smog and Thunder...The Great War of the Californias),
where some 20,000 died on the battlefield.


“During Dodgers games it was really brutal,” he says, adding, “Dodger players would get showered with beer every time they got near the stands.”

In an interview, Konte traces the Dodgers-Giants war to multiple causes, including the crosstown rivalry between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants that went back to the 1890s.

He also believes that San Franciscans’ pre-existing disdain for L.A. fed into the rivalry when the teams arrived in California. “There was always Northern-Southern California friction in other things. All those things played out on the field,” he says.

[The Giants’] Candlestick Park itself, so windy and cold, so “edgy,” also added to the rowdy atmosphere, Konte says. Since a downtown ballpark replaced Candlestick in 2000, he says, “Things have died down. The atmosphere is entirely different during Dodger games.”

Hess, who lives in Irvine, blames the physical differences between the two cities for much off the rivalry.

“It’s tied to a landscape,” he says, citing the difference between Los Angeles’ broad valley and desert versus San Francisco’s hills and Bay. “The landscape does shape or sort out how people think about where they live.”

“I have kind of a rule of thumb. It’s very rough. I find that people who move to the Bay Area, or stay in the Bay Area, like it for what it is, and they want to keep it that way.”

“People who move to Los Angeles, [the landscape] is much more of a blank slate, so they can create their own ideal world. You see that in terms of architecture to a great extent. There’s more acceptance of change and letting people do whatever crazy thing they want to do down here. It’s more libertarian.”

In explaining the difference between Northern and Southern California culture, Carl Nolte makes a similar suggestion, but roots it more in history than in landscape.

“They are less rooted, is that the word?” he says of Angelenos. “We used to call Los Angeles and Long Beach ‘Iowa by the Sea,’” because almost all of them come from somewhere else. “In San Francisco there are still hardcore San Franciscans about.”

“In Los Angeles they take chances, invent stuff, they don’t worry about people watching or what they say,” Nolte says.

Ask Nolte why Northern Californians love to rag on Southern California and his answer comes quickly.

“It’s an inferiority complex, that’s my theory. My father thought that, too,” he says. “We’re deeply jealous of Southern California because it’s bigger and brasher. They don’t seem to feel the same way about us.”

No, they don’t—and for Northern Californians, that makes it worse.