Since moving to Los Angeles after college, I’ve gone full method into the role of Southern California denizen. Gone is Yale-era Violet, a prim pedant blithely pushing Ray-Bans up her nose bridge and Frankenfoods down her gullet. 2013 Violet requires fresh citrus, daily workouts and TMZ updates on the hour.
There are so many contemporary pop culture depictions of Californians. Let’s start with the freeway-obsessed pneumatic ditzes of SNL.
My two critiques, like any good Angeleno would give, are 1) So? Unlike the itinerant bottle blondes in the skit, these jokes never go anywhere. 2) Skee-Lo did it more realistically — nearly 20 years ago! – with, “you know I take the 110 until the 105 / get off at Crenshaw, tell my homies look alive.” The L.A.-centric “I Wish” will always be dear to me because of the painfully relatable lyric, “I wish I had a brand-new car / So far, I got this hatchback / And everywhere I go, yo I gets laughed at.”
There are also characterizations that take a swipe at the state by attempting to reduce it to pejorative factoids, or to say what it’s not. In this category I include most of the things Alvy Singer said during his morose traipse through Southern California (“It’s so clean out here!” “That’s because they don’t throw their garbage away; they turn it into TV shows.” Touché! These get a pass. I always give Woody Allen a pass.)
Also, further down my tolerance scale, we have the rampant John Updike quote that new transplants to the city love to trot out — “The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.” Not to stoop to rejoinder, but acolytes of this philosophy, for goodness’ sake, take your roaches, exorbitant rents and knockout games and quit kidding yourself.