1. Not know what “NorCal” is.
“NorCal” is the abbreviation of Northern California. Ironically enough, this doesn’t include places in the super north of California, like Redding, Shasta, or Eureka. Sorry, but NorCal is limited to the areas of San Francisco, San Jose, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, and, on a good day, places like Sacramento. We take great pride in being from NorCal. So much so that we will very obviously let you know with our car decals, flags, and T-shirts declaring this fact. If you come into our neighborhood with SoCal plastered all over your car, be ready for problems.
2. Tell us that LA is better than SF.
Yes, there is rivalry between NorCal and SoCal in a major way. Call us territorial or proud, but that’s how it is. Sure, LA has Hollywood, UCLA, and celebrities, but it also has a shit-ton of traffic and fake people. LA is a huge sprawl; it’s not even a real city per se. So please, do yourself a favor and keep your mouth shut if you like the city of Lost Angels more than San Francisco. Because, really, San Francisco is the best city in the world.
3. Diss on our pulgas.
It might look like a glorified garage sale to you, but our flea markets are so much more than that. We go to the flea market in the wee hours of the morning to sell our gently-used couches, denim jeans, and chanclas. (We all know what craigslist is, but that’s just not how we roll.) If we’re not selling our own stuff, we’re looking for our own new (to us) treasures. Going to the pulga on the weekend is a family ritual, where you can eat some mango con chile, a snow cone, and possibly score a vintage wine rack.
4. Make racist comments.
The community in Northern California is highly multi-cultural. If you grew up here, you might have had Portuguese, Mexican, Vietnamese, African-American, and Indian friends, and you thought nothing of it. (Fun fact: San Jose has the largest Vietnamese community in the world outside of Vietnam.) People are people, and we embrace each other’s cultures, foods, and languages. So don’t make stereotypical or racist comments in public — like saying that Mexican immigrants are taking our jobs — if you don’t want a very, very stern lecture. Also, do yourself a favor and keep mum if you don’t like our multi-lingual signage.
5. Buy your books from Amazon.com.
Not all of us actively read. But those who do are very passionate about their books. So don’t insult us by purchasing your books from a Seattle-based company. The majority of the chain bookstores who came into our neighborhoods, like Borders and Barnes and Noble, have come and gone like last month’s lover. Places like City Lights, Diesel, Book Passage, and Dog Eared Books are still going strong without having sold out. So if you’re in NorCal and you happen to be a bibliophile, go to one of these independent book dealers. If we find you secretly ordering books on your iPhone from Amazon, we will shank you.
6. Hate on Haight Street
Maybe tie-dye T-shirts, crystals, and incense just aren’t your thing. But there is so much more to this iconic street in San Francisco than that. If you’re not aware, it was the place to be in the 1960s, when its hippie counterculture drew in people from all over the country to experience love, psychedelics, and an open sense of community. Legendary musicians like the (Bay Area-native) Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane all lived within blocks of Haight Ashbury. The Summer of Love took place here in 1967, and protests against the Vietnam War flooded the streets. Eventually, the hippie movement dissipated, but the remnants are still quite tangible. Nowadays, you can spend the entire afternoon shopping for vintage clothing at Wasteland, get pierced at Cold Steel, eat a delicious crepe at Squat & Gobble, and sip on an old fashioned at Trax before the sun even begins to set. So if you hate on Haight, you’re hating on history. And that’s just not cool.
7. Say that we work too hard.
There’s a reason NorCal possesses such a strong economy, and it’s not because we like to take it easy. If you want a chill place to live, where you do as little work as possible to get home, smoke a bowl, and watch your favorite reality TV show, I wouldn’t suggest doing it here. It doesn’t matter where you’re at in the income totem pole, we’re all busting our ambitious asses. Many of us have at least two jobs, and are likely to have other side projects as well. If you’ve just read The 4 Hour Work Week and are beyond psyched, just keep it to yourself.
8. Criticize our drinking activities.
That’s right; I said “activities,” not “habits.” We work hard, but we also play hard. On any given day of the week, you might find us at our local watering hole, sipping on a beer, a glass of Napa Valley merlot, or a margarita. We don’t discriminate. Whether alone, with friends or our co-workers, we’ll be unwinding with a cup in hand, chatting about work, or still gloating about how the Warriors won the NBA championship this year.
9. Talk shit about the Warriors, Giants, or Sharks.
And depending on who you talk to, the 49ers or the Raiders. We take our sports teams very seriously. Our fanaticism swells to epic, religious proportions. We worship people like Steph Curry, Buster Posey, Pablo “The Panda” Sandoval, Patrick Marleau, and Colin Kaepernick as if they could turn water into wine with their next play. It is not uncommon for people to miss out on dinners, quinceneras, graduations, family reunions, and even days of work if their team is in the playoffs. If they’re in the finals you won’t hear from your NorCal friends at all for a couple of weeks. Unless, of course, they’ve posted the latest awesome play on their FB wall. But don’t expect a response, or even a like, on your comment.
10. Eat at Taco Bell, El Pollo Loco, or Baja Fresh.
Not only are all of these places gross, but they are also not fresh, not real Mexican food, and not from NorCal. There are almost two million Latin@s living in the Bay Area, and 75% of those people are Mexican American. So every time you shove a processed-meat, plastic-tortilla into your mouth and call it a burrito, it’s a personal insult to us. There are a ton of hole-in-the-wall restaurants and food trucks on almost every block here with excellent Mexican food. But if, for some weird reason, you don’t have a Latin@ friend to show you the ropes, try our hecho en NorCal eateries, like Super Taqueria, La Victoria (affectionately known as “LaVic’s”), Aqui Cal-Mex, or Chacho’s. Your taste buds will thank you.
11. Complain that your rent is too high.
Unless you live in Manhattan, you have absolutely no right to complain about your rent. Yeah, San Francisco is charming, eclectic, and magical. It really is everything you’ve heard about and more, but living in The City without a six-figure income is quite complicated. Just renting a tiny room in a house will cost you more than $1,500 a month. If you want to own a home, just forget about it, unless you’re Donald Trump. (Then again, why would you want to be?) Head an hour south to San Jose, and you’ll be lucky to score a one bedroom for $2,300 in exchange for Silicon Valley status and proximity to the Levi Stadium. So, what was that you had to say about your woe-is-me rent prices?
12. Ask us on a date without owning a car.
In some countries, it is required that you own a home and have a huge chunk of cash in your bank account before you get married. It’s kind of the same with dating in NorCal. If you don’t have a car and you ask us on a date, it’s kind of like living at your parents’ house when you’re 50, or not bathing for a month. It’s repulsive. Why? Because, unless you live in the heart of SF, this is how we get around. If we date you and you can’t afford a car, we will not only have to give you rides to work, the bank, and to your auntie’s house, but we’ll more than likely also have to foot the bill at restaurants, grocery stores, and Coors Light runs. Sure, you might ride the BART or Caltrain to enjoy Bay to Breakers in the City, but the rest of our public transit sucks. It might not be tomorrow or next week, but you will eventually start asking for rides. And we fucking hate giving people rides, unless they’re drunk and Uber can’t find them.
13. Avoid San Jose and Oakland because they’re “too dangerous.”
If you’re listening to the media, like Fox News and other crappy “news” sources, you’ll hear nothing but the ugly side of SanJo and Oaktown, as they are referred to locally. To be sure, there are violent acts, robberies, and other illegal activities going on in NorCal. But these things happen in many, many other places, too. San Jose and Oakland are not hell holes teeming with gangsters and thugs. You just have to know where to go and where to avoid. It’s not rocket science, and NorCal is surely not a war zone. So stop being scared and come hang out on the East Side. You might even meet some really nice people who were born and raised there, like me.
14. Claim that Tupac was an East Coast rapper.
Tupac Shakur sold over 75 million albums. Rolling Stone listed him as one of the 100 best rappers to have ever lived. And while he was born in Harlem, N.Y., and raised on the East Coast, it wasn’t until he moved to Oakland that his career began. He joined Digital Underground, a local hip-hop group, and started to find his voice. As the years went on, he increasingly identified with the West Coast, and especially the Bay Area, as his true home. It’s no coincidence that he pitted against the Notorious B.I.G. during the infamous East Coast- West Coast hip-hop feud. So you will not only piss us off if you say that he was an East Coast rapper, you’ll also enrage 2-Pac himself. When he does came back as Machiavelli, you’d better watch your back.
15. Move to the Silicon Valley and think that your start-up is going to be the next Facebook.
Or Apple, Google, eBay, PayPal, Instagram, Pinterest, and well, you get the point. Our techies know what they’re doing, and they do it well. People here have a strong sense of innovation, push the envelope, and cater to the public’s unforeseen needs. Over the last 15 years or so, The Silicon Valley has put itself on the map in a major way because of its revolutionary billion-dollar companies. Most of these originally began in college dorm rooms and garages, but have succeeded because of their passion, expertise, and insane number of hours worked. So please, don’t waltz in with another generic idea in an over-saturated market and think that you’re going to make it big. Most don’t.
16. Say that “hella” is not a word.
“Hella” is a word that started in the Bay Area and has since spread all over the West Coast, and possibly even to Mars. It can be used to mean “very,” “a lot of,” or “totally.” So don’t even dare claim that it didn’t start in NorCal, or deny its linguistic validity. Because, if you do, we hella won’t be your friend.
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