Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.! Why does everyone want to beat L.A. all of a sudden?
I don't get all this "Beat L.A." stuff, even as the chant seems to grow in arenas and ballparks around the nation. You hear it in Portland. You hear it in Boston. We hear it from that little bunny hutch of Orlando.
It's as if we've become the Evil Empire, or the shiny Russian dude in "Rocky IV." In the near corner, Los Angeles. In the far corner, the world. Beat L.A.!!!!!!!
Sure, we've had a few little issues. Rappers and wacked-out starlets seem to run rampant here -- their bug-eyed mug shots popping up everywhere.
And you'll probably never forgive us for "Three's Company," and we deserve that. You must understand that only a small fraction of the population makes unforgivably bad television. The rest of us . . . well, we're pretty much the same as you.
In the real L.A., we tend the tomatoes, rush to the monthly meeting for Pack 515, sell gift wrap for the school at Christmas.
The real L.A. gets to the game early to open the snack bar and rake the infield, goes to the farmer's market on Saturday for cheap grapes, watches the neighbors' house when they're away.
Like you, we get to work early, come home a little late, drink too much Trader Joe's merlot, fall asleep during the monologue.
Beat L.A.? Why not New York? Why not Orlando? It's not as if Orlando is Rome. I've been to Orlando. In Orlando, the best restaurant is a Dairy Queen. Orlando has cockroaches the size of Reese Witherspoon.
Here in L.A., we're no better, but we're no worse. We're just another congested American city struggling to make the best of it.
Turns out our most talented baseball player is juiced. So's our governor (lot of good that did us).
For gawd's sakes, we don't even have a pro football team, unless you count USC, which many of you do.
That's not our only civic embarrassment. There's that awful cathedral, for example. There's the Grove. There's Cher.
And think of all the other things we don't even have. Our drinking water is disappearing, our ocean is overfished. In fact, the only fish left in the Pacific these days are a bunch of unemployed surfers (Tip: Try them broiled with a spritz of lemon).
Our schools are reeling, our budget is upside down. We don't need your scorn, we need your old clothes, your empty bottles and cans. The way things are going in California, we'll be out of tequila by July. You want to see this state in real turmoil? Take away our Cuervo Gold.
To be fair, look at all that Southern California has done for the rest of the world. How about "The Wizard of Oz," only the greatest movie ever, unless you're counting the "The Dirty Dozen." How about "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour," merely the best TV show of all time, hands down.
Don't forget the Marx Brothers, Johnny Carson, Steve Martin and Mickey Mouse.
Don't forget Jimmy Stewart, Steve McQueen, Annette Funicello and Alyssa Milano.
L.A.'s really a remarkable place. If you go on TV, in almost any capacity, the mayor will immediately date you.
And think of the lifestyle changes that we've helped to introduce. Once upon a time, didn't L.A. play an instrumental role in that whole free love movement? What's so wrong with free stuff? What's so wrong with love? Well, plenty, but would you rather pay for it? Would you rather sleep solo?
So please, America, get over this whole "Beat L.A." obsession, it's so beneath you. For once, why don't you try embracing L.A. Come on . . . have a little hug. For free.
Just be careful where you squeeze. Many of us are about 50% saline.
Erskine also writes "Man of the House" for Saturday's Home section.