Ignorance on the West Coast?

I’m from Oregon. Oregonians are hardly an oppressed minority, but I still get touchy when people assert that my statemates (neologism!) are ignorant. Here are some examples:

(1) I was in a guitar shop in D.C. I asked what that strange musical instrument was. He said, it’s an instrument from the Andes, made out of the body of an armadillo. I said I hadn’t heard of an instrument being made out of the body of an animal (skins and bones, yes, but not the whole body). He said, “Where did you go to high school”.

I said, “In Oregon”.

He said, “That’s probably why. In my high school [somewhere on the East Coast], we were taught mythology, and we learned that [one of the Greek gods, Apollo?] had made an instrument out of the body of a tortoise. It is called a kithara.” He then went on to talk about a musical competition between aforementioned kithara player and Pan, who played the panflute.

I was taught plenty of mythology in high school, but we didn’t learn that.

(2) A New Englander I know was talking about Graceland. I knew the Graceland / Elvis connection, but I had always thought it was the town he was from; houses don’t usually have names. (I know it’s a mansion now.) So I asked what exactly Graceland was when I figured out it wasn’t a town.

“Boy, you really are from the west coast.” What’s that supposed to mean? “Everyone I know from the west coast has no sense of geography.”

I guess I didn’t know geography and celebrity trivia were so closely related.

(3) Just this morning, a recent arrival to Oregon asked me where a certain bakery was. I’d never heard of it. He was dumbfounded. “The locals don’t know anything about their own town! I know more about it than they do!” I told him I prefer another bakery. He ignored me. “All Oregonians know about is where they work and where they live and where the tavern is.”

Is this a wider stereotype? I’m not asking if it’s true, just if it’s asserted often. Does “ignorant Oregonians/westcoasters” go with “garlicky Frenchmen”, “dramatic Spaniards”, and “intelligent/ suicidal/ hardworking/ subcaste-assassin Japanese”? Or did I just run into a couple of freaks?

FTR, Hermes made the kithara (I always thought it was a lyre) out of the body of a tortoise and the horns of a bull. He gave it to Apollo to make up for stealing his cattle. So maybe that guy wasn’t so bright after all…

I never heard of any Oregonian=ignorant stereotype.

“Eppur, si muove!” - Galileo Galilei

Being a transplanted West Coaster…I don’t think its any more prevalent than the assumption that us Midwesterners are a bunch of rubes or that New Yorkers are a bunch of rude assholes (oh that one’s true!)

Hmm never heard that Oregonians = ignorant, but I have heard that many of your people dislike any Californians :). All areas have stereotypes of other areas. Some people fromt he east think Californias are all flakes. Many Californians think easterners are rude, or have a funny accent. People on both sides of the country think the midwest is full of nothing but hicks and simple folk. And a lot of the US think southerners are all inbred, socially uncultured, backwater hicks.

On a slightly related note:I have a friend from NY who was amazed that out west we have Pines, Maples, Oaks, Sycamores, willows. He thought all of our plants were palms and tropical plants.

In the U.S., East Coasters look down on West Coasters.
On the West Coast, Washingtonians and Oregonians look down on Californians.
In California, NoCal looks down on SoCal.

So are not Southern Californians the most despised in the land? I’ve gotten TONS of grief overseas about being from California. It’s like we’re all stoners eating yogurt getting colonics. Usually you just say a few intelligent sentences to dispel the stereotype and that’s enough.

One truth about the stereotype is that people in the West have far less a sense of history…we have a gas station from the 50s in L.A. that is a historical landmark, for chrissakes. I love going to the East coast for just that reason.

A man, a plan, a canal: GatewayDrug

I’ve found that geographical ignorance isn’t a problem unique to one part of this country.

Yeah, I’ve heard (and believed) most of the stereotypes about the regions. Truthfully, Boris, I haven’t ever heard anything bad about Oregon or it’s citizens. Well, except when Midwesterners pronounce it “Ore -Eh- Gaaan”.

A Tennesseean, a Californian, and an Oregonian go duck hunting. Time passes and they ain’t seen no ducks, so the bored Tennesseean decides to impress his comrades by taking a bottle of fine Jack Daniels sippin’ whiskey out of his coat pocket, tossin’ it up in the air, and blasting it with his shot gun.

Stunned, the Californian and Oregon exclaim, “What the hell did ya do that for?”

The Tennesseean brags, “Where I come from, we got so much of the stuff, we can afford to do that!”

The Californian considers this a moment, then pulls a bottle of Chardonnay from California wine country out of his pocket, tosses it in the air, and blasts it with his shotgun.

The Oregonian is taken aback and exclaims, “Well, what ya do that for?”

The Californians brags, “Where I come from, we’ve got so much of the stuff, we can afford to do that.”

The Oregonian considers this a moment, then shoots the Californian.

[My mom and husband, both transplanted Californians, hate that joke.]

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

…The Californians brags, “Where I come from, we’ve got so much of the stuff, we can afford to do that.”

The Oregonian thinks about that for a moment, then pulls out a bottle of McTarnahan’s beer, drains it in one pull, and flings it into the air.

The Oregonian then cocks his shotgun, puts two shells through the Californian’s chest, and catches the beer bottle on it’s way down.

“Why did you do that !” exclaims the horrified Tenneseean.

“Oh, we’ve got plenty of those back home”, says the Oregonian, kicking the Californian’s corpse. But this has to be recycled.

Lifelong Southern Californian weighing in, and I might point out that all these things are completely one-sided. San Franciscans hates L.A., but Angelenos harbor generally pleasant feelings toward S.F. I mean, you might as well have a heated rivalry with Disneyland.

I’ve heard the rude remarks from Washingtonians, Oregonians and New Yorkers about L.A., and they don’t bother me, especially. I have been a wee bit irritated by folk from Chicago who moved to L.A. (not, presumably, at gunpoint) who constantly carp about how much nicer it is there. Just hop on the freeway and head east.


Story of my dad’s, from the 60s or 70s while he was working in New York.

One of his co-workers mentioned that he was going out west for his summer vacation. My dad, remembering how east-coasters had often shown a different understanding of American geography than did west-coasters, took this to mean the Midwest (look at a map!) or possibly, if the guy was quite ‘open-minded,’ maybe Colorado. So he asked what “out west” meant. “Oh, Albany,” was the response.

David Forster
Actually, I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon between East and West. It’s not that either coast is right or wrong, but often, a distance a Westerner would call “small” an Easterner would call “huge”.

I knew someone from Massachusetts who would expound on how long the state was (east to west). “Oh yeah, it takes hours to get from one end of the state to the other.”

When I’m on the East coast people tend to roll their eyes when they hear how incredibly far away from home I am. When I think of places far away from home, I’m thinking of Diego Garcia.

I suppose mental horizons are probably smallest in Europe, where you can take a day trip to a place where they speak a different language. The times I’ve been there though, people expressed a lot less surprise at an American having gotten that far from home.

Hey, I’m from Oregon, too! =D

And I have heard that joke about the Oregonian shooting the Califronian. I love it. LOL.

As far as how much I know about geography…to be honest, not a lot, but I have an excuse, I’m only 14. ^.^

Stereotypes about people living in different places are one of the things that kind of confuse me. I mean…what difference would where someone lives make to what they act like? Or, is it the other way around, and what they act like determines where they live?

One thing I’ve learned about geography (from Being on the Internet a lot, and also from when I went on my trip to Costa Rica) is that other places are almost exactly the same as here. If you went to Alaska and expected everyone there to be living in igloos or something, you’d be very surprised. Don’t ever expect people in another city/state/country to act drastically different.

Also, maybe it’s just because I live in Oregon, but I’ve never heard any stereotypes (of any kind, really) about Oregonians. o.O

I’ve never heard any anti-Oregon rhetoric here in NY. It’s true that NY and CA have a rivalry going, but they will instantly band together and assert their superiority to the “fly-over” states. Kind of like when Catwoman and the Penguin would team up to beat Batman.

A Texan is bragging to a New Yorker about how big Texas is. “Why, in Texas, you can get on a train, and still be in Texas three days later!”

“Ah, that’s nothin,” says the New Yorker. “In New York, you can get on a subway, and still be in the STATION three days later!”

NY and CA have a rivalry going? By the same logic applying to the Bay Area’s hatred of Lalaland (and reciprocal HUH?), that would make NY far superior to CA…

Say it isn’t true!

Reasons I’ve heard why San Francisco hates LA:

  1. They take all our water and use it to water their vast lawns
  2. They are flakes, while here we work hard
  3. LA is a horrible sprawling mess, while San Francisco is a real city. (True, only considering cities, not metropolitan areas. But it’s true the SF metro area has much more interesting geography than LA)

Reasons why Californians hate Oregonians (?):

  1. Oregon has a lot of hick, racist towns - except for Portland, it’s socially backwards
    compared to CA.
  2. Oregonians hate us, so we might as well hate them back. But, truth be told, hardly anyone in CA thinks all that much about Oregon.

Reasons why East Coasters hate West Coasters:

  1. They image all of the west coast is just like LA.

Reasons why the West Coasters hate the East Coasters:

  1. They imagine they are so important, when they are just old-money old-world conservatives. They really have no idea what is going on. I mean, try and read the NY Times web site. They require you to be registered to read it - and it’s free! They really just don’t get it.
  2. The East Coast is the center of the universe for them - nothing else in America matters. A friend of mine was trying to solve the Forbes magazine treasure hunt. I believe the last two years, the national magazine’s treasure was located… on the East Coast! Suprise!

The reason why the Midwest hates everyone else:

  1. Everyone else couldn’t possibly deal with the kind of weather we get in the Midwest.
  2. Everyone else totally ignores us. Hey, Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the US, and for the most part, it’s totally ignored by the coasters. I mean, even the whole East Coast vs. West Coast distinction leaves out the Midwest (and South).
  3. We don’t hate everyone else, we in fact love everwhere else. Let’s go somewhere else to live, it’s much more exciting! That’s why so many major Midwestern cities are stagnating, like my hometown of St. Louis.

Funny, LA must have torn down most of all the remnants of it’s Spanish colonial past then. Up here in Monterey there are many many historical adobes left from the Spanish Colonial period (the town was established in 1790). We have many of the government buildings, the colonial family homes, and we have the second Mission that Fr. Junipero Serra built. Those are what we consider landmarks. I dont think I can recall anything here that is under 100 years old being a landmark (except Cannery Row, but mostly because of John Steinbecks book, Cannery Row).

So me and a buddy from Kentucky were down in the big ol’ city of Atlanta. We went in a little restaurant and I said to the server:
“Gimme a baked tater and some sliced maters.”
She said:
“You must be from Tennessee.”
I said:
“How could you tell?”
She said:
“By the way you talk.”
My friend was impressed. So the next place we went, he said to the guy:
“Gimme a baked tater and some sliced maters.”
And the guy said:
“You must be from Kentucky.”
Astounded, my friend said:
“How could you tell?”
The guy said:
“Because this is a computer store.”