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Before You Abandon the Golden State . . .

December 09, 1990

Fed up with living in Southern California? Had it with the traffic, smog, and cost of living? Perhaps you read the recent piece identifying Seattle as one of "the most livable cities in the United States" ("Life in the Big City," Nov. 25).

Well, forget it. I have already blazed the trail for you, and rest assured there is no rainbow at its end. In the 3 1/2 years I've lived in Seattle, I have endured enough darkness and precipitation to last a millennium. Even as I write, the staccato of the pan collecting water from my ceiling is a grim reminder that my sense of humor has also begun to drip away in this environment.

Natives of Puget Sound have cultivated a kind of "damper-than-thou" attitude whereby whatever goes on in the world outside is absorbed, and subsequently wrung out as, "How does this affect Seattle?"

This form of jingoism becomes most acute when interpreting news from California. In 1989, when an earthquake hit the Bay Area, all we heard from the media up here was news of the imminent threat of a Seattle earthquake. Last fall, when fires spread through the dry hills of Ojai, suddenly Seattle too was in danger of wildfires. Seattleites were quick to extradite the stray whales back to the Golden State, but scoffed at sending any surplus water there to ease the shortage. You can buy a house here, obtain a Washington driver's license, register to vote, and even have children, but you will still never be accepted as one of their own. So I have finally decided to roll out the tarpaulin on this place and call it quits.

To you my fellow sun-worshipers I say, chill out, and count your blessings. Tomorrow morning as you set forth, behold the energy and brightness all around you and offer thanks. Randy Newman, I not only love L.A., I love San Bernardino, San Diego, Westminster, Riverside. I love every grain of sand from San Ysidro to Santa Barbara. I love every ounce of asphalt on every gridlocked freeway in the Southland.

Southern California, I'm coming home.


Redmond, Wash.

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