Shame, Pt. 1.

Sometimes I don’t quite understand why the public perceptions of Americans are so filled with ridicule. Californians seem to get the worst of it, even though we’re arguably supposed to be the most enlightened, progressive, and forward-thinking of this wacky country’s populace. A better place out West, and all that. Then I remember how damned goofy this place actually is, and how easily we may be regarded as caricatures. The Scotsman, my joyous expatriate rag, seems to agree:

Dude! They say the surf is awesome in California

Craig Howie

CALIFORNIANS really do live up to stereotypes about America’s most laid-back state – they are a bunch of tree- hugging, surfing “awesome dudes”.

A new survey found that 67 per cent of Californians referred to friends as “dude”, while 63 per cent said they had hugged a tree.

They were more likely than most Americans to attend wine tastings, go to barbecues and eat caviar.

Dennis Tootelian, a professor at California State University in Sacramento who conducted the survey, said: “The lifestyles of Californians have been the subject of debate and ridicule over the years, but surprisingly we do a lot of those things.

“I’ve never hugged a tree, but, come to think of it, I’ve done most of the things [in the survey questions].”

A fifth of Californians said they had taken a mudbath and 71 per cent of those said they had found the experience “awesome”. A third of the residents of San Diego, commonly cited in the US as having the best climate on the globe, had been surfing.

This fills me with mirth. And no, I’ve never hugged a tree or taken a mudbath, dude. But the waves over here are killer, bro!


In other news, Apple has decided to honor and respect my birthday this year by releasing the much-anticipated OS X Tiger on the eve before. Take a close look, and please reconsider why in GOD’S NAME you’re still using a Windows-based machine.

46 Responses to “Shame, Pt. 1.”

  1. fraulein_doktor Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 11:23 am

    well…erm…I did hug a tree once, but I was rather drunk…and it was a fake Xmas tree…long and sad story…ehehe 😉 but then, hey, I'm not Californian, so I can hug trees whenever I want! *lol*

  2. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:29 pm

    God, I hope you have a picture of that!

  3. marasca Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 11:38 am

    Wait, there's a song by Fiona Apple and Marilyn Manson???
    I've hugged a tree, and I'm proud of it! I also say Dude on occasion.

  4. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:31 pm

    I must admit – I stole it, so I'm at the mercy of the ID3 tags that came with the song. But I suppose it could be an Apple/Manson collaboration, and undoubtedly a brief Google search would yield a definitive answer to the query.

  5. thistlelurid Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 11:42 am

    word on the street from the beta testers is that its a bit buggy still…
    theyre surprised theyre pushing for the release…bugz moreso for
    networking situations…but everyone I know is jumping on it for
    personal use regardless of zee bugz! ::scratch scratch::

  6. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:34 pm

    I love the releases of OSX because they turn into late-night parties at all of the Mac-based stores around the Bay Area.
    That's style, that's celebration, baby.

  7. pisica Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 11:57 am

    I only ever say dude (or rather dood) in irony. But then again I was only in California to go to Berkeley. 🙂

  8. Anonymous Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 12:07 pm

    Trees Need Luv Too
    Right, dude?

  9. vervassal Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 12:50 pm

    Oh! Dude! That's awesome! (yes, I am a tree-hugging Californian… although I've never taken a mudbath…)

  10. vervassal Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 12:55 pm

    I should add that I was nine, and in girl scouts, when I hugged the tree. It was something to do with Earth Day.

  11. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:35 pm

    Yes, but you still have to declare it at Customs, I'm afraid.
    Age, or lack thereof, is no excuse.

  12. melismaticdrill Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 1:11 pm

    I've definetely never taken a mudbath, but I did hug a tree, when I was like 12 just because I was being goofy..
    I've noticed, also, that when I speak to someone from another part of the globe, and tell them that I reside in southern california, they ask two questions right off the bat.
    1. "Do you surf?"
    2. "Do you know any movie stars?"
    I wish these people could see what a dump Hollywood is!

  13. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:37 pm

    Have you ever taken a mudbath with any movie stars?
    Inquiring minds wanna know.

  14. agntprovocateur Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 3:12 pm

    OMG dude, like that's hella funny for a smarty pants guy like you.
    (never hugged a tree or had a mudbath or surfed or had my aura read)

  15. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:37 pm

    So the question remains: what types of horticulture HAVE you hugged, then?

  16. agntprovocateur Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 1:02 pm

    hell no! and if i ever had to (emphasis on the assumption of force) , i'd burn the damn thing right aferwards. no need to keep evidence.
    but then, i'm SO NOT from California, man!

  17. angledge Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 3:55 pm

    In order to become a more perfect Californian …
    I want to learn how to surf!!

  18. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:39 pm

    Re: In order to become a more perfect Californian …
    Lesson #1) Watch out for sharks.
    Lesson #2) Talk to Ross at the shop, who surfs all the time.
    Lesson #3) Watch your work productivity dwindle because all you do is surf, smoke pot, and say 'duuuuude' all the frickin' time.
    Lesson #4) Welcome to California!

  19. podle Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 4:28 pm

    O dear,
    I have hugged a tree. It was even during a Spring Solstice ceremony with my Mom and a bunch of witches. And I've surfed (but only the one time – and I ended up wearing the board as a hat – so does that count?). I haven't had the mudbath (which is probably non-significant as I'd really like to have a mudbath). For some reason, the more physical exertion I undergo the more likely I am to say "dude."
    Fine. Yes. Its all true!!!
    And I don't care – I'm shame free and will now go home and eat an entire avocado by myself. Hah!

  20. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:41 pm

    Frickin' Hippies.
    *waves dreadlocks at you*

  21. darkstones Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 5:09 pm

    The anti American sentiment in the UK seems to have evolved over time. I would guess that it started in the WWII period, where the relative affluence of the GI's and the paranoia about 'the Yanks' flirting with the womenfolk whilst our boys were out fighting, led to a certain resentment.
    Next you had the economic growth of the 50's and 60's, where the Americans were portrayed as being derisory about the standard of living in the UK – the whole 'we have those back in the States but they're much bigger/better' thing. By the time the seventies had come along, this had evolved into the 'vulgar american' stereotype – which seemed to be the UK's way of dealing with its relative poverty – admitting the US was richer, but turning that into a negative by saying that they have no refinement/class/history etc.
    This has since been expanded to include America's disproportionate consumption of world resources, the ignorance of the outside world of the general population, capitalist imperialism and military & foreign policy, leaving us now with the stereotypes of sinister heads of corporations, gung ho marines and passportless rednecks who don't know that Scotland is a country, rather than a London borough.
    Or as you say, hippy Californians whose abundance of material wealth and obsession with the perfect body has left them empty and unfilled and on a bizarre quest to find meaning in their spiritually void lives.
    What makes me cringe about all this is that the population of the UK isn't really any different to the US anymore, no matter how much we try to disguise it with history, tradition & breeding. I can't think of any American stereotype that doesn't have an exact counterpart in the UK. We may ridicule the latest Californian 'fad',or the American consumer lifestyle, yet we greedily import most of it several years later. The only thing I can think of in the past decade that we've done faster the US is our proliferation of mobile phones, and that's probably due to the geography of our little island & relative population densities.
    So next time you see someone in the UK deriding the US, have a chuckle to yourself, because we are really laughing at ourselves, dude.

  22. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 5:22 pm

    HA! Well said, my friend.
    I do hope you know that my feigned ignorance of the 'American stigma' is just that, but I thank you for enumerating these very salient reasons, condensed into one handy, dandy timeline for our viewing pleasure. I also hope that you're clear on the differences between Northern and Southern California, which, for all purposes, should be akin to the divide between Scotland and England. We, too, get swept under the soulless mantle of Los Angeles and its environs, and I wouldn't mind if the whole place really did just break off into the sea (a few select individuals are exempt from this wrath, of course).
    As for your very accurate social comparisons between the U.S. and Britain of late, wasn't it our chap Justin Sullivan who proclaimed that the U.K. is the '51st State of America'?

  23. thistlelurid Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 6:11 pm

    <small>"This is the 51st state–of the U. S. A."
    Matt Johnson, TheThe</small>


  24. darkstones Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 6:25 pm

    Hehe – quite so. IIRC, both songs were released in the same year, so I guess it's a draw 🙂

  25. darkstones Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 6:17 pm

    I'm sure you got your fair share of descriptions of American stigma when you were over here 😉
    I have an idea of the difference between north and south California. Whether or not it's correct is another story, but I really need to visit to find out. I have progressed somewhat from my childhood differentation of US cities based on their respective police tv dramas 😉
    I hadn't really thought of 51st State when I was typing that comment. I also have a particular admiration for his description of political & corporate imperialism in 'Grandmother's Footsteps'.
    Damn, I wish I'd got to know you better when you were over here – we would have had some epic discussions.

  26. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 9:39 pm

    Wonderfully, I feel like I met the best people in the world when I was over there, and virtually no one gave me any transposed crap for my nationality. Thankfully, they were all intelligent enough to know that allegiance and patriotism is not blind nor automatic, despite what some administrations would have us believe.
    I promise that I'll be back, mate. Reserve some good talking time for me and I'll see you not too far from now.

  27. vegasjohnny Says:
    April 13th, 2005 at 10:13 pm

    Careful, if those TV Police dramas were filmed in the 1970s, it is my duty to inform you that most of The Streets of San Francisco was filmed in Los Angeles.

  28. thedarkcyde Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 5:25 pm

    dude. that's fuckin funny

  29. Anonymous Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 11:03 am

    You're not just rivaling, dear, but have been showing me up in the keep-your-delightful-words-from-far-away-people-who-are-dying-to-read-them department. But there's understanding beneath the half-hearted ridicule. And at the same time that I thank you for your very kind sentiments here, I also sincerely return that you are on the very top of my list of writers whom I want to read, who write somewhat less than I would like: my hidden gem mine from the bottom half of the world, now gone fallow and empty. But I'm glad we've made this connection, even as it is. There will be more from each of us.
    The Pinot is the Tandem 2004 Sangiacomo Valley. From my very favorite winemakers, a close second behind the same label's Silver Pines.

  30. chaosvizier Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 8:40 pm

    In accordance with the Californian use of the superlative, THIS IS THE BESTEST ARTICLE EVER, DUDE!!!!!

  31. chaosvizier Says:
    April 12th, 2005 at 8:41 pm

    Also, in the superlative…
    <img src=""&gt;

  32. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:44 pm

    Re: Also, in the superlative…
    Sadly, I AM that T-rex, and you have just conjured deeply ingrained, childhood traumas that shall haunt me for the rest of my life.
    Thanks a lot, doood.

  33. chaosvizier Says:
    April 18th, 2005 at 8:23 am

    Re: Also, in the superlative…
    My evil work here is done. Rock on, T-Rex.

  34. velvetdahlia Says:
    April 13th, 2005 at 5:46 am

    I've experienced this bias first hand this weekend. This guy basically assumed I was a complete airhead because I'd lived in California. (And I suppose the dreads and the fact that I was wearing COLORS helped inform him). It was really annoying. Some people will just think what they want, reality be damned.
    It's a fair guess that people who answered that questionaire, if they did, were answering ironically.

  35. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:45 pm

    Where are your 'U's, woman!

  36. dr_beep Says:
    April 13th, 2005 at 8:17 am

    Let them mock! We know the rest of the country sleeps with their cousins, and that the rest of the world… well… speaks more languages than us… damn… shut up!
    "and please reconsider why in GOD’S NAME you’re still using a Windows-based machine."
    Two reasons:
    1) Hardware: I can build one myself from cheap parts in less time than it takes to cook a really decent meal, and in a few cases for less money than that meal cost!
    2) Games: Several nights a week I am a Wookie named WriWiWeWoo who builds droids for the rebellion. With a Mac or Linux I can't do that. I really like doing that.
    That being said I do own an old G3 that I am turning into a video editing setup and I have my eye on a Mini which I will probably move all my document production too if I can find affordable (cough) copies of Illustrator, Photoshop, and Indesign to replace my PC versions.

  37. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:47 pm

    *blurts many spicy, liquid substances through my nose*
    You're my favorite Wookie, baby.

  38. vegasjohnny Says:
    April 13th, 2005 at 10:19 pm

    I'd love to see this survey. My own use of 'Dude' I consider something of a birthright, being a native Southern Californian and all.

  39. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:48 pm

    Yes, you *do* use 'dude' quite a bit.
    I think it suits you, though.

  40. no_mans_land Says:
    April 13th, 2005 at 11:27 pm

    fiona and manson???! where?!</small>

  41. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:49 pm

    Consider it added to the disc that I still haven't found the time to make you.
    It's coming, darlin'. Thanks for being so patient.

  42. no_mans_land Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 9:37 pm

    <small>i'm not good at being patient! >:O
    new music. weee.</small>

  43. hermiston Says:
    April 14th, 2005 at 5:02 am

    Radio 4 had a programme on the other day saying about the new apple thing on the go, and how their marketing tech was as down as the jazziness of their machines.
    Inevitably c. 73.2% of Californians will swell with glee and the enlightened among the rest of us may follow or fall. I still own a typewriter!
    big love dude.

  44. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 12:55 pm

    He's got a picture! He's got a picture!
    You own a typewriter because you're a throwback to a greater time, and you put us all to shame with your tenuous clinging to ancient technology. It's a lesson, really.

  45. inbody Says:
    April 16th, 2005 at 8:45 pm

    It is strange how California has a reputation for being laid back AND activist. I figure it has something to do with how ridiculous it is to make generalizations about the social habits practiced in an area the size of this state.
    At the risk of sounding like Sean Penn at the Oscars, the media ought to question the complacency it is so easy to associate with our friends in the "flyover" states. Wine tasting and caviar, pretentious though they may be, are interests that have some resonance outside crass consumerism and take some level of engagement to enjoy.
    You've just experience my version of patriotism. Yuck.

  46. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 17th, 2005 at 1:00 pm

    Re: Interesting.
    This is an interesting and valuable point. California (or parts thereof) seems to be the only state still supporting the foundations on which America was established – the pursuit of a better, more comfortable life free from the bonds of a poisoned society entirely too subservient to an unsympathetic, tyrannical administration.
    Is this going too far?
    Because if it is, I'll just bust out the caviar, and we can chill, dude.

Leave a Reply