It’s the same old slam.
California, they say, is the land of fruits and nuts.
You develop a thick skin to such slander committed on the state you call home. One shrugs it off because it is American humor in the best Will Rogers tradition.
Once in a while, though, you come across a comment that makes your Perrier water-thinned blood boil.
A Milwaukee woman caller to a national radio talk show was condemning California as the root of all American decadence and evil.
Excuse me. The last time I remembered the only person convicted of kidnapping, torturing, dismembering, barbecuing and then eating little boys was a Milwaukee resident by the name of Jeffrey Dahmer.
Some of the nation’s most notorious — and earliest — evils originated in the Heartland.
Bonnie and Clyde weren’t Californians, nor was Al Capone. Truman Capote’s non-fiction novel “In Cold Blood” predated “Helter-Skelter” and Charlie Manson.
Modern mass murder traces its origins to Illinois where Richard Speck snuffed out the lives of nine nurses in a dorm as well as Texas where the clock tower sniper killed 16.
And let’s not forget the man behind the McDonald’s massacre of 23 children and adults in San Ysirdo was a Midwest man who traveled to California just a month after being drummed out of undertaker school.
California’s alleged excesses don’t need defending. There are 39.8 million of us. We’re bound to have our share of murderers, perverts and odd characters.
The real question the lady from Milwaukee should ask is why there are 39.8 million Californians.
The answer is simple. This is the land of unlimited opportunity and vistas. Mother Nature couldn’t have done a better job at drawing the state’s boundaries than politicians did in 1851.
This is the only state you’ll find both fog shrouded, rugged coasts lined by majestic redwoods as well as sun-drenched beaches.
California is home to Death Valley, Yosemite Valley, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco Bay, Catalina Island and more natural wonders than the combined physical attributes of every Midwestern state.
I’m sure Milwaukee is a fine city but in no way is there as much culturally rich and climate variations as between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Those two California cities are enriched by people who live by the philosophy of the West refined by the cosmopolitan and natural touches that only the Golden State can offer.
California is where the spirit that made America great burns strong 24 hours a day. This is why the entertainment, aerospace and high-tech industries are concentrated on the much-maligned “Left Coast.”
The “Left Coast,” by the way, gave America Ronald Reagan.
Only in California has man struggled for 166 years to harness the wonders of nature while striving to protect them at the same time. Man has created the great cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco in areas devoid of adequate natural water supplies.
It explains how California, and not Wisconsin, is the top dairy state and how we are continuing to increase our standing as the top producing agricultural state in the nation despite growing from 11 million in the 1950s to 39.8 million today.
Sure, there are pitfalls to our continued growth. Water is a finite resource as is fertile land that also is seen as the most fitting for developers to convert into houses, shopping malls and high the companies.
But find another place in America where agriculture is so intense, where family farms do indeed flourish.
The myth of California being dominated by corporate farming concerns is a distortion created by the same people who are convinced that we are a land of nothing but blondes, muscle-bound knuckleheads, perverts, murderers and movie stars — the national media.
Yes, Boswell is among the heavyweight farming interests that own massive sections of the west side of the southern San Joaquin Valley. However, the bulk of the state’s bounty of fruits, nuts and vegetables are produced on much smaller concerns.
Middle America values are strong in California — especially in the Central Valley.
Who do you think are buying homes in the suburbs, flocking to small towns and reclaiming aging neighborhoods of our older cities? It’s not hippies or Charlie Manson wannabes.
Yes, we have earthquakes, droughts, fires, landslides and floods.
The trade-off is the fact we live in a young state, geologically speaking. Find me another place in America with San Pedro Beach, Mt. Whitney, the two volcanic peaks of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen and a 300-mile fertile valley and I’ll move there.
I’m sure Milwaukee is a nice, tidy city complete with its own slums, X-rated bookstores, child molesters, rapists and murderers.
True, we have all of that rubbish as well. We also have world-class museums, bountiful fields, sun tanning weather, snow-capped mountains, as well as orchards bursting with almonds and oranges.
Yes, we are the land of fruits and nuts. They are quite fresh and delicious, thank you.