mardi, août 22, 2006

the armpit of southern california

I grew up in the (909). Actually, when I was growing up, it was the (714).

My parents still live in the lovely Inland Empire. I got the eff outta Dodge for college and I have to say that I was in no rush to move back to MoJack City after escaping.

But don't take my word for it.

From Urban Dictionary
909: The area code in Southern California for Riverside and San Bernardino County; usually associated with white trash.

From the OC Weekly
Despite cheap property, not to mention a rich array of trailer parks, white supremacists, cows and cold medicine, the Inland Empire—"909" to the kids—has somehow managed to become a punchline on everything from The O.C. to countless blogs and bumper stickers.

Still, the people love their trailers and ’tussin, which is why people keep moving to the 909, which is why there aren’t enough phone numbers to go around in the 909, which is why, on Oct. 30, western Riverside officially ceased being the 909 and became the 951, a change residents no doubt hope will have a transformative effect on their image.

Kevin and Bean of KROQ dubbed the area The Valley of the Dirt People after I left, but I still think of it as the armpit of Southern California.

Sidebar: Leo's Saturday night comment about gerrymandered area codes was strangely prescient. Take a look at the (760), yo.
Via Diana

4 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…

Ah, my beloved 909, also affectionately, although not widely, referred to as the "I.E."

Right now, dripping with heat and throat-choking smog in mid-August, the IE is truly living up to the moniker of the armpit of SoCal. (I, along with you, have used this phrase quite often to describe my former home. The armpit of NorCal, by the way, is Fresno.)

I have lived with and personally seen many of the IE's qualities that the supposedly cooler cats predominantly to the west and south find worthy of mockery. And while it's true that the IE is home to the meth lab capital of the world (high desert), militants and white supremacists (foothills and mountains - Oak Glen is home to more than apples, that's for sure), ATVs-on-the-unwatered-lawn white trash (see Yucaipa), and our venerable KCAL radio station can't seem to find its way out of the Led Zeppelin/Boston era, I have two words to say to those whose bumper stickers or TV show scripts or alt-newspaper columns denigrate the 909.

F@ck off!

Only vets of these Badlands have earned the right to refer to our collective NASCAR-worshipping brothers, sisters, and home turf in such a manner. (I had NASCAR bedsheets when I was a boy, too. I stared at cotton-screened versions of Richard Petty's and Cale Yarborough's cars as they ran neck-and-neck toward the foot of my bed every night -- years before Madison Ave. and Wal-Mart and ESPN ruined NASCAR's charm by making it "redneck-cool" nationwide, like trucker hats.)

Many ethnic groups will refer to their own kind with words that seem like slurs, but actually connote respect and bonding forged by their collective struggle. But if an outsider uses that same word to describe that group -- look out! (Think of the non-PC stuntman who called a group of African-Americans something other than African-Americans in "The Kentucky Fried Movie.")

Same thing for the IE. We know what it's like to breathe the emissions of countless BMWs as they are swept east and trapped against the San Bernardino Mountains by the prevailing winds. We've braved visiting the Inland Center Mall (screw Ontario Mills!) at night in the heart of a city with a 40% welfare rate. We've watched Great White, Dokken and other '80s metal bands migrate here to die in small bars that are doomed to be converted into strip clubs (What's Whiskey Creek's name this week, anyway?).

And, as Nietzsche said, it has made us stronger!

So the nouveau riche and style-poor of the OC, and the silicon-injected but soulless masses in the Angel City today may laugh at our expense. But they cross the IE at their own peril. We are the sons and daughters of steel workers, orange pickers, truck drivers and chicken farmers. Our selves have been hardened to the rigors of life without the luxuries of hometown major league sports or daily Paris Hilton sightings. (Thank God -- although I swear I once saw her years ago at a party in Highland shotgunning Coors Lights. Can't remember if she was wearing pants, though. Maybe that's where her whole schtick got started.)

Bottom line, the people of the IE are an alloy -- different elements forged together by heat, pressure and relentless pounding into something harder, stronger and capable of forming something dangerous if we get ticked off. Even expats such as myself will flock back from softer climes (or at least fire off a blog volley) to defend our farmer-tanned honor.

So let this serve notice to those who cast judgment or derision on the IE from afar: Shut your effin' traps, or the next time you come cruisin' down Interstate 10 on your way turn yourself into human raisins at Palm Springs, the 909 might go 187 on your botox-laden behinds.

Lest you forget, we're also home to a community that generates more than its share of juvenile killers (Redlands).

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find a way to re-grow my mullet in time to go to the Def Leppard/Journey concert this Wednesday.

O a dit…

Alright, Anon's comment kicks ass. Keepin' it real for the 909. Word.

I'd say something about the 510 but I can't think of anything. It's that inspiring.ym

Anonyme a dit…

Just a shout out to all my homees in the 909. Still gots my bro there. Pourin my colt 45 on the ground for my homees from the trailer park. Any y'all go to Mo Jack High? What What. (in case you need a what what)

Debba a dit…

I've been living out here in the 909 for 9 years now (work in Redlands, live in Yucaipa, urgh). I came across your blog when looking for something else and I REALLY did laugh out loud. I'm going to point to this from now on every chance I get, so friends will finally understand what I've been mumbling about under my breath for the last several years. Thanks, cheers!