Now that we know that the 49ers are going to face the Seattle Seahawks for the NFC Championship, the trash talk machine has gotten cranked up already in preparation for Sunday’s game.
I usually don’t comment on football games. First, I am lightly acquainted with the sport, but not so much so that anything I say has any commentary weight. That’s why I’m a cartoonist. Second, this rivalry is nothing compared to, say, the Washington Racist Team Name versus the Dallas Cowboys. However, it got me to thinking about city reputations and aspirations.
I lived in Portland for almost 30 years. Portland was intensely jealous of Seattle, and people from there go up to the Emerald City to experience the museums and almost surreal physical beauty it possesses. Seattle regards Portland as a train stop with inferior coffee. I recall driving into Portland after spending the weekend in Seattle a few years ago, and it seemed like a model railroad city that had been hit with anthrax in comparison. Lights off, nobody home. Yawn.
Of course, I knew Portland was just fine. I didn’t really take Seattle’s sophistication as a personal affront. It’s just not about me, sometimes. But I know this kind of intra-city hip-checking goes on, so here is a theory I have developed.
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Eugene as aspires to be Portland. Portland aspires to be Seattle. Seattle aspires to be Vancouver, B.C. Vancouver B.C. aspires to be San Francisco. San Francisco aspires to be Paris. Paris doesn’t aspire to be anything other but left alone while rudely spilling wine on your lap. So there’s a hierarchy that no one can win.
New York aspires to be London. Los Angeles aspires to have running water. St. Paul wants to be Minneapolis, and believe me, that war has had many, many bodies. Millions of snowballs have been thrown with malice in that one.
What does Sacramento aspire to? I like Sacramento very much; I am not sure it should be anything other than Sacramento. My daughter and her friends visited last week, and they liked the low-key charm, trees, and weather. But I know that Sacramento has San Francisco issues. Having moved here from Oregon, being close to San Francisco is a real bonus. I also know that Sacramento plays little sister to San Francisco, and has a massive complex about the whole thing. So we gamely root for the Giants and the 49ers.
Our Lt. Governor and former San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom, once famously accidentally made his feeling known about our city: “Ugh. God. Sacramento.” It’s a curious attitude given that he wants to be governor of California, which is headquartered right here in Ugh, God, Sacramento. You would think he would have a warmer view of the place.
Of course, several past governors, ones from Hollywood in particular, just flatly refused to live here. I could see why Gov. Schwarzenegger didn’t want to, given his intriguing attraction to his household help back in Los Angeles. But I never understood why Gov. Ronald Reagan was so down on it. He was from a series of grim little burgs in Illinois, where a big night on the town was falling down on the ice in front of taverns. Sacramento was like Paris compared to Dixon, Ill.
Oh, and Dixon wants to be Des Moines, Iowa. In fact, once he graduated from college, where did Reagan go? Right to Des Moines, baby, to radio station WHO.
What? WHO, as in WHO the heck wants to stay in Illinois?
When Reagan got to be governor, his wife Nancy wouldn’t live here. There’s a big governor’s mansion around here somewhere, too. I met a very nice woman who runs it. No one, including the current governor, whose father set it up, lives there. It’s no Leland Stanford mansion, of course.
So, buck up, Seattle. We here in NorCal don’t hate you. We know you’re no Vancouver, B.C., let alone San Francisco.
And, after Sunday, you can go back to patronizing Portland. After all, you have the rain advantage alone.
And I can tell you we sure would aspire to that now.