California is two states,
really. Most residents agree that the northern half of
the state -- cradling Silicon Valley, the San Francisco
Bay area, and beyond-bears little resemblance, either
culturally or topographically, to the southern half,
which is dominated by greater Los Angeles and (just
across the border from scenic Tijuana) San Diego. Up
north it's chips, bytes, grapes, and Haight-Ashbury;
down south it's stars, celluloid, surfing, and the U.S.
Marine Corps. They're all equally appealing, depending
on your point of view.
Ever since the days of the Gold Rush, California has
been this wide-open sort of American promised land -- a
place where quick fortune and worldwide fame seemed
within reach of anyone who wanted it badly enough, and
once secured, a hillside mansion or beachfront hideaway
was yours for the building.
Times have changed, and though California's economy has
been hit hard in recent years, its residents remain
undaunted, devoted as they ever were to the myth and
mystique that brought many of them here in the first
place (remember, this is the state that sent Sonny Bono
to Congress). And they're still coming. With so much
diversity and creativity about, who can blame them?