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East Coast vs West Coast stereotypes
April 4, 2006 7:29 AM   Subscribe

Can you give me some stereotypes on East Coast vs West Coast differences?

I'm not an American. In about every media I've had contact (Metafilter included), there is some stereotyping of Blue State vs Red State, or North vs South, or Urban America vs Rural America (Yeah, I know most of these overlap a lot). And yeah, much of it is offensive.

But stereotyping among the Urban, Blue State population is either rarer, or subtler. About the only things I get about this is that West Coasters are much more informal than New Englanders, and that people in the West Coast tend to use their cars a lot more than New Yorkers, and everywhere but California is damn cold.

So, can you give me some stereotypes about these places? What do New Englanders think of Californians? What about Seattleites and New Yorkers?
posted by qvantamon to Society & Culture (85 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm in NYC, and when I think of West Coasters (specifically California folk), I think of: blondes, "health food" diet trends, avocados and other "weird" food, fake boobs, fake tans, plastic surgery. Basically that "West Coasters" are all about the superficial, as opposed to "us New Yorkers" who are not.
I don't really believe that's true, btw, so no flames, please.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:39 AM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


What's weird about avocados?
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:42 AM on April 4, 2006


I have a West Coast friend who is constantly annoyed by us uptight, snobby, anal, fun-hating East Coasters. Stereotypes of West Coasters are the same as ThePinkSuperhero said, with the addition that West Coasters are more liberal, more environmentally friendly, more hippie-crunchy-granola types, and more gay. So much more gay.
posted by schroedinger at 7:43 AM on April 4, 2006


I don't think it's the avocado that's perceived as weird, it's the quantity and frequency in which they appear in Californian cuisine. It seems true to me, but that's probably because I always ordered food with avocados when I was in California. Because they are awesome.
posted by mullacc at 7:45 AM on April 4, 2006


A friend from CA actually described how some of his friends describe West Coasters as "avocado"- and then, when NYC friends move to CA, they'll rag on them for "going avocado".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:46 AM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


East coast - pushy, rude, grumpy, but hard working and always on the go

West coast - laid back, kind, but sleep until noon
posted by Pollomacho at 7:47 AM on April 4, 2006


An observation that has stood the test of time would be that when you are with West coast people they are initially warm and friendly to a point but never allow you into their private lives. The East coast people tend to be standoffish and distant until they accept you and then and you become part of the family.
posted by ptm at 7:48 AM on April 4, 2006 [2 favorites]


Yeah, West-coasters have a reputation for being spacier, having "weirder names" and such. Hippies, basically. A friend of mine in New York was constantly asking for the "weird Seattle names" I knew (Nordica, Rebar, Torque, Raffi, etc.)
posted by piratebowling at 7:48 AM on April 4, 2006


I had a friend in college that constantly reminded us West Coast-types that people on the East Coast dress much more fashionably. And by "people" he meant rich college-aged kids. More than anything, I think this was an extension of the west coast is more informal / east coast is more formal thing. In a lot of situations, that seems true to me.
posted by mullacc at 7:51 AM on April 4, 2006


I hear that West Coast people eat their young.
posted by goatdog at 7:59 AM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


My favorite stereotype is that West Coasters walk more slowly than people from the northeast. Put someone from the northeast in a sitaution where he has to walk behind Californians and he'll tear his hair out.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:00 AM on April 4, 2006


metropolitan people on the east coast are loud, pushy assholes and they're proud of it. it's a fine art. people on the west coast pretend to be laid back, nice and generally agreeable, but they are just as loud and pushy as East-coasters--they just aren't any good at it.
posted by markovitch at 8:07 AM on April 4, 2006


Seattle stereotypes specifically, I can give you, since I moved to Seattle from the Midwest: Outdoorsy or pretend to be (everyone has a kayak in the garage, few use them), everyone wears flannel and has a garage band, everyone drinks froo-froo coffee (half-caf triple-tall hazelnut latte).

I believe the East Coast reverse version would be everyone thinks "Kayak" is a province in Canada, everyone wears black and not only doesn't have a garage band, but doesn't have a garage, and everyone drinks street-vendor or Greek deli coffee and is proud of it.
posted by GaelFC at 8:10 AM on April 4, 2006


Double.
posted by grateful at 8:10 AM on April 4, 2006


grateful: ACK! Searched for american stereotypes. Sorry.

Anyway, at least this thread gives the westcoasters the chance to pay back :)
posted by qvantamon at 8:13 AM on April 4, 2006


Of course, by "east coast" you mean "North-east" right, not the south. That's one thing to think about. Then there's NYC vs. The rest of the north east. I don't think many people would consider "NYC" as "Not very gay".
posted by delmoi at 8:17 AM on April 4, 2006


Us West-Coasters are just waking up now...

I grew up in Southern California but went to school in Boston and lived in Manhattan for a few years..so..

The main difference, culturally, is that East coasters are much more class-conscious. This is reflected in the way they dress and their ambitions. There are a lot more "private clubs" and other social stratifications than on the West coast. You "know" when someone is wealther than you. Here on the West coast, the billionaire could be the guy in sandals eating across from you at the funky Thai food place.

East coasters walk fast (as mentioned above) They are always in a hurry. They are also straight with you - that is, if they dont like you, they'll tell you. Some might interpret this as rude, but personally I adore this frankness. West coasters are "nicer" on the surface but this can lead to a sort of passive-agressiveness and even hypocrisy in their dealings with others.

East coasters are much more neurotic in general. Almost any Woody Allen movie is soooo East coast to watch. His movies were incomprehensible to me as a young southern californian. When I moved to the East coast, I finally understood..

West coasters are much more New-Agey - embracing all sorts of health food trends. Yoga first caught hold over here. Massage therapists abound.

The West generally leads the nation in whats termed "informal culture." Movies are made here. Surfer-speak and Valley-girl speak started here and moved East.

The East leads the nation in "formal culture." Upscale designers live over there. The best literature, newspapers etc. all seem to be from the East coast.

I could go on...
posted by vacapinta at 8:33 AM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Some NY vs. LA stereotypes:

People from NY say "Fuck you" and mean "Hi, how are you?"
People from LA say "Hi, how are you?" and mean "Fuck you."

People in LA will stab you in the back.
People in NY will punch you in the face.

The latter pair applies more specifically to the film business, but it still applies as a general sense people tend to have about both cities, especially to the extent they are considered to be representative of their respective regions.
posted by dersins at 8:39 AM on April 4, 2006 [2 favorites]


Most of the negative stereotypes about Californians in general also reflect how we Northern Californians think of Southern Californians -- fake, superficial, not terribly bright, etc. We like to pretend that when people think of those wacky, spacey Californians, it's only because they only know LA -- if they'd ever been to Norcal, surely they'd see how wrong they were!

We're fooling ourselves, of course. No one does denial like a Northern Californian.
posted by Acetylene at 8:45 AM on April 4, 2006


vacapinta reminds me of the biggest eye-opener to me when I moved from AZ to the east coast after college. All of a sudden, people seemed to give a shit where you went to high school. Me: "You put your high school on your resume?" Roommate: "Yeah, I went to Hotchkiss." Me: "What the fuck is Hotchkiss?" Roommate: "What planet are you from?"
posted by mullacc at 8:46 AM on April 4, 2006


West coasters: naively optimistic, self-deluding, woo-woo.

East coasters: naively ambitious, self-deluding, cynical.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:48 AM on April 4, 2006


If you want a broad set of stereotypes in a compact form:

The east coast is stuck in the 1950s. The west coast is stuck in the 1970s.
posted by majick at 8:50 AM on April 4, 2006 [2 favorites]


People are bad drivers on both coasts, but on the East Coast it's because they're trying to kill you, and on the West Coast it's because they're out to lunch.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:00 AM on April 4, 2006


Saul Steinberg's famous 1976 New Yorker cover: View of the World from 9th Avenue.
posted by ericb at 9:01 AM on April 4, 2006


I once tried to explain to a San Franciscan how much I, as an east coaster, appreciate a good "fuck you" when it is deserved. The west coaster was appalled. East coasters are certainly gruff, but we also get over "it" more quickly by getting "it" out of our systems.

Also, in the north east (New England), there are virtually no black people compared to the rest of the country. Moving from Boston to DC was an eye opener!
posted by CaptApollo at 9:07 AM on April 4, 2006


goatdog said: I hear that West Coast people eat their young.

True. In Seattle we find they're best with a spicy Thai peanut sauce, and some prefer them with a side of lightly grilled spotted owl.
posted by lhauser at 9:16 AM on April 4, 2006


And by "west coast" do you mean Seattle, the SF Bay Area, LA, San Diego, what? A lot of the above is really NYC vs. LA.
posted by fleacircus at 9:16 AM on April 4, 2006


woody allen's annie hall is a nice exploration of east coast / west coast differences.
posted by ori at 9:20 AM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


The comments by markovitch above pretty accurately capture my core stereotype. I'm from the Southern California coastal area, where summer to me was the most important frame of reference, lasting from about March through October. Most meals should be barbecued during this time, and the nearly total lack of understanding of true barbecue meaning and technique among east coasters (not to mention midwestern "barbecue" glop) reinforces my (admittedly frivolous, OK?) visceral stereotype.

I saw an episode of "The Practice" a few years ago where these Boston lawyers went out west and there was a scene where they were crossing the street in L.A. in a group, all in their black suits, that stood out to me as hilarious and reminded me of meeting my east coast cousins.

On preview, Mullac's comment reminds me that California joined the United States only about 160 years ago (about the same time my in-law's house was built in Kyoto), and I've played up the California rootless, traditionless aspect several times. When a guy from Mass. came to work in my office, I brayed to those within earshot that "He can only stay in japan one year, because he misses the duck coasters already and has to go back and join his daddy in the securities fraud business." It turned out his family did set their drinks on duck coasters, and his dad was an investment counselor or some such.
posted by planetkyoto at 9:25 AM on April 4, 2006


delmoi: Yeah, by East Coast I meant Northeast plus mid-atlantic. I'm sure I can get everyone to pile on how Miami is weird, but not in this thread :)

fleacircus: Yeah, I know the coasts are far from homogeneous, but I want everything related to either.

But, yes, we seem to have focused too much in LA vs NYC. Do you guys have anything more specific to New England or the Pacific Northwest?
posted by qvantamon at 9:28 AM on April 4, 2006


Also, in the north east (New England), there are virtually no black people compared to the rest of the country.

Actually, according to the 2000 census a minority of Bostonians are white (49%). The African American population is 29% [source -- PDF] with other racial/ethnic identities adding to a majority.

One can easily come to the conclusion that there are fewer "minorities" than Caucasians in Boston due to a long history of de facto (geographic) segregation. One needs only compare the racial make-up of neighorhoods -- for example, Dorchester, Mission Hill and Roxbury versus Charlestown and South Boston.
posted by ericb at 9:29 AM on April 4, 2006


The West generally leads the nation in whats termed "informal culture." Movies are made here. Surfer-speak and Valley-girl speak started here and moved East.

The East leads the nation in "formal culture." Upscale designers live over there. The best literature, newspapers etc. all seem to be from the East coast.


Probably the best explanation right there. I think the formals are a little jealous of the influence of the informals, makes us New Yorkers see red.

One stereotype of Southern California people which is true is that since SOCAL does, indeed, usually have nice weather, if you live in a less forgiving clime, they never, EVER, let you forget that. Will crop up at least a dozen times in any conversation.
posted by xetere at 9:35 AM on April 4, 2006


For me it's odd because I grew up in a small town in Florida, went to school in Boston and have lived in LA for a decade. (gah. damn time)

For me, growing up, Florida was laid back, personable, everyone knew you, lalalalala, Norman Rockwell with palm trees and shorts. (Of course, not everyone liked you. There were still plenty of damn bigoted rednecks and my hometown had more churches than bookstores and bars by a factor of 10 to 1)

Boston, drove me nuts for at least a year. Beside the pressure of going to a stupidly hard school, there was suddenly all of this mean attitude and tall looming greyness hanging over you. Seriously took me a while to adjust to it and grow to like the fact that it was a smaller town than the one I grew up in (size wise) and yet so much more to do.

Then I moved to LA. Here, things are marked by the fact that this must be the most separated town I've ever seen. People are looser, yes many are trapped in the 70's, but most folks out here just don't give a damn. Sure there's the classic film industry types who'll run you over to get their parking space, but honestly most people couldn't care. Everyone here has a bubbe built up around them that's only really breached through shared circumstance. It's a funny thing, but really, compared to New England at least, I find the people out here much harder to draw into a social circle of any meaning. (aka other than having a drink and chit chat)

Of course, that may just be the difference in social patterns. But I do have to admit that sometimes out here you find the classic hippy dippy granola type who truly means it and lives it and they can be worth their weight in gold.
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:39 AM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh and dangit. Barbeque isn't just slapping food over charcoal, that's grilling. Barbeque is the long judicious application of hot smoke to meat. (Sorry, the latent Southerner and foodie coming out in me. :) )
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:41 AM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


I like to tie it into the area's history. New England was settled by ambitious workers who wanted to create a new society free of excess, of showiness, of religious metaphor. Straightforward people, heavy on the work ethic, who tend to believe that excessive individuality was suspect. Reinforced by the weather -- you can't goof off for too long, because winter's coming and you need to be a good ant and prepare. Now there's a mix of that old Puritan work-ethic America combined with the immigrant American dream of Ellis Island -- with hard work, you can make money and have a good life.

California, at least in American history, came in during the Gold Rush, populated quickly by people trying to escape the class system of the East (and other countries). Rough and tumble miners, women who wanted to make their own lives rather than succumb to society's rules. Happens again during the 1960s with a generation of society's drop-outs. Happens again during the 1990s with the dot-com boom -- tons of money for people pouring on people for just a few years' work followed by IPO. With luck and the right connections, you can stop working and have a good life. Again reinforced by the weather -- sunshine rains down most of the year, grasshoppers can play as much as they want. San Francisco, at least, becomes a place where people drop out of the rat race and live "authentic lives" free of traditional rules or judgment, and disdain those still trapped by old-fashioned Puritan work-ethic values.
posted by occhiblu at 9:49 AM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Great thread. And notice that there are few definitive answers here, except that Kayak is not a Canadian province (it's a Territory).
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:54 AM on April 4, 2006


Well put, occhiblu.
posted by ericb at 9:59 AM on April 4, 2006


After growing up in a military family and moving frequently, I moved to DC after college and stayed there 10 years. Then I moved to San Diego and stayed 8 years.

One of the "stereotypes" that hit me immediatelyt after moving to San Diego was that people dressed differently. Most people in offices in DC wore either conservative business attire or casual business wear of the slacks-and-polo-shirt variety. San Diego was the first place where I saw a high-level accountant in the company I worked for come in to the office almost every day in a miniskirt. Few professional women in DC at the time (80s & early 90s) would have expected to be taken seriously in that attire, but in San Diego, it was par for the course.

Then at the next company, "Casual Friday" meant coming to work in shorts and a t-shirt, but that's another story...
posted by Robert Angelo at 10:15 AM on April 4, 2006


I grew up outside LA and live in New York now.

Out west, you're a lot more likely to go to people's houses to hang out. (That may be an NYC and not total East Coast thing, though.) Out west, people dress terribly; they do not seem to consider that *you* have to look at them and a least put in a little effort. The Northwest is the worst. Out west, people can't handle actual criticism, especially in SF.

Back east, way more people are bizarrely frightened of water.
posted by dame at 10:23 AM on April 4, 2006


I've lived my whole life in the midwest, but my mom is Californian. One thing I've noticed when visiting there is that it seems like every state east of say Nevada is refered to as "back east."

I'd imagine the opposite holds for east coasters (ie everything is either "the south" or "out west"). It reminds me of an article I saw in The Onion once ('Midwest' Discovered Between East and West Coasts)

With the addition of that stereotype (that they lump us in with the wrong groups), I'd say most of the above pretty accurately describe how midwesterners think of East and West Coasters.
posted by chndrcks at 10:30 AM on April 4, 2006


I should've previewed first, I didn't see dame had used both the "out west" and "back east" phrases
posted by chndrcks at 10:32 AM on April 4, 2006


Having grown up in San Diego, and working for a company now where I have to travel to Boston frequently, I definitely agree that in general East Coast = more formal, class conscious, etc. and West Coast = more laid-back, informal, etc. However, most of the stereotypes here are definitely more LA vs. NYC, and a lot of the perceptions are even present here between cities on the East Coast. For example, San Diegans in general HATE Los Angeles because it's everything we don't want San Diego to become (superficial, sprawling, perpetually choked by smog and traffic). Southern Californians dislike Northern Californians (read: SF Bay Area) because they are more like the stereotypical "East Coasters" others have already described. We also don't like Arizona, but that's just because they invade every summer and don't know how to drive.
posted by sbrollins at 10:36 AM on April 4, 2006


Oh, and like Robert Angelo said, dress is WAY more casual here than "back East." I wear jeans to work every day in a large, professional company. I'd say at least half of the other employees do too. When I go to Boston I'm usually the only person I see at work who's not at least in khakis.
posted by sbrollins at 10:38 AM on April 4, 2006


Check out the lyrics to Dar Williams's song, "Southern California Wants to Be Western New York" for some non-NYC comparisons.

A few things I've notice but not seen mentioned:
-- The auto companies seem to give California the experimental car colors.
-- Clothing is obvious. Remember Legally Blonde? (And the black vs. pink thing in the sequel?) Packing for a west coast business trip, my dad was always sure to take a golf shirt / polo, whereas east coast trips he took things like wool pea coats.
-- A quirk of LA is that people seem to describe geography by highways. Discussed here. A prof of mine always used to try to get the LA kids started, by asking them to describe where something was or how to get there, and it always ended up in a barrage of highway names and nicknames.
-- True quote from an east coast Ivy League college graduate: "Colorado, does that border the Pacific?"
-- Can you get soy milk everywhere on the east coast by now?
posted by salvia at 10:38 AM on April 4, 2006


-- True quote from an east coast Ivy League college graduate: "Colorado, does that border the Pacific?"

True quote from someone who "went to school in Massachusetts" (wink wink nudge nudge):

"You grew up in Colorado?

There's no history there."
posted by ambrosia at 10:45 AM on April 4, 2006


I've noticed that East Coasters are much more aware of religion. I grew up with a bunch of jewish friends and never knew it till a few years ago. It just wasn't an important thing. When I visit my husbands friends in NY, they immediately make it known who is Jewish, who is catholic. And it seems like there are few who are nothing.

I agree with the East coast being very aware of class. Also snobby, rude, distant, cold. (When my brother in law (from cape cod) hugs, he does a one-arm, lightning quick, lame-ass hug. We call that an "east-coast hug.")

The East coast moves too fast. I could never live there. And it's too damn cold.
posted by aacheson at 10:52 AM on April 4, 2006


Salvia, that song makes me miss both New England and Southern California at once.
posted by dame at 11:04 AM on April 4, 2006


What about Seattleites and New Yorkers?

when i worked for a company in NYC, we went out to Seattle one week for a meeting with our web developers. They couldn't stop commenting that we looked 'so new york' because we were all wearing mainly black clothing. i had never noticed that new yorkers favored black in their wadrobe really, but it was clearly a stereotype that they had of us. Adversely, it was a bit jarring to notice that the head receptionist at a very successful and well-known web company in downtown Seattle was wearing denim overalls and a cotton tank-top to work...eh.

my general understanding was that new yorkers are more intent on making a good outward impression, especially in the professional sector. it may be shallow, but there is more of an emphasis and dependence on being well-groomed and being in order for new yorkers. our stereotype of seattelites are generally patchouli, bad haircuts, and lack of good fashion sense.

oh yeah...and the west coast is full of gangs and thugs, while on the east, we have hustlers. (i had a friend from LA in the 90s' who was incredulous that my NJ high school didnt have any gangs).
posted by naxosaxur at 11:17 AM on April 4, 2006


Stereotypes? As you can already see, you've come to the right place.

From a West Coast point of view:

Northeast of New York: Mostly farmland inhabited by pleasant but reclusive country folks who take pride in freezing their asses off every year. (this also applies to North Dakota and Idaho)

New York (which is also Chicago): Uptight urbanites who see rudeness as a virtue instead of vice. Visible forms of wealth and class are extremely important. Formal clothes are required on all occasions, including while giving birth. Anyone who is not wealthy is assumed to be a solid racist for whatever race they happen to be. (The wealthy people are all racists too, but they're quiet about it). In the business world, violent outbursts and yelling at coworkers is all part of a day's work.

New Jersey: One large wetlands swamp full of toxic waste. People only live there because they can't afford to live in New York.

Virginia, North/South Carolina: Southern country estates surrounded by extensive tobacco fields. The fieldworkers are all poor illegal immigrants who live in ramshackle huts in forest clearings.

Georgia: Isn't that where Hazzard Country is? Sure would like to meet them Duke boys.

Florida: Jewish retirement communities interspersed with Cuban immigrant housing developments and giant swamps with alligators. Except for Miami, which is exactly like it is in "Miami Vice". The north half of the state is entirely owned and operated by Disney.

Come back next week and we'll tell you all about them flyover states.
posted by tkolar at 11:22 AM on April 4, 2006 [2 favorites]


San Diego is its own world apart from the rest of the US Pacific rim.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:24 AM on April 4, 2006


I once tried to explain to a San Franciscan how much I, as an east coaster, appreciate a good "fuck you" when it is deserved.

Yes! And "asshole." I remember a movie that started with somebody moving back to NYC and as they were entering their new apartment building heard a voice from a window above hollering "Asshole!" The protagonist had a happy "Ah, I'm home" look, and I think everybody in the audience had the same reaction (I believe this was a Times Square theater).

And definitely the clothing. I'm visiting my brother in Santa Barbara at the moment, and last night we went to a fancy Italian restaurant for dinner (Tre Lune in Montecito, very good, try the specials); I put on my best shirt but knew that everyone else would be in jeans and sports shirts or t-shirts, as indeed they were. I still can't quite get used to it, no matter how many times I've visited. (My brother doesn't dress up for anything. Well, I think he digs up a ratty old suit for weddings, but only because he's pressured into it.)
posted by languagehat at 11:43 AM on April 4, 2006


People on the west coast wear pink. (It's obscene.) They also, generally, don't know how to talk, think, act, wash, and do business. They fail to understand basic concepts like 'deadline' or 'teleconference'. They've got the good ol' American Greed nailed down, but they missed the memo about being a Workaholic. They are way, way too showy and generally tend to show off their wealth or talk directly about money. They have poor taste in pretty much everything.

People on the east coast are miserable and extremely cynical. Not 'neurotic'--just plain old miserable. It's not exactly clear why this is the case. Besides that, they rule.
posted by nixerman at 11:49 AM on April 4, 2006


When one of my grandfathers died, some of his distant relatives from back East came to the funeral. I remember they were horrified that all of his California friends and family were wearing black polo shirts and slacks. His best friend even had black sandals on.
posted by Acetylene at 11:50 AM on April 4, 2006


That whole East Coast work ethic is hooey. Sure they dress up and show up early and stay late, but they spend half their time doing personal business and screwing around. And then they do this whole martyr thing about how many hours they worked, when I HEARD then bitching to their friends on the phone for an hour about their pharmacy or hairdresser or whatever.

Californians get just as much work done, but in my experience they're not supposed to admit it. You're supposed to tell everyone you knocked off early to go surfing. Hence all the laptops at swimming pools and the beach, I guess. Then you can pretend you're not working.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:56 AM on April 4, 2006 [4 favorites]


I lived in Northern California for several years. I am a smartass east coaster. What struck me as odd about West Coasters is an almost zero tolerance for sarcasm.

Any smartass/sarcastic remark I would make around these folks would either go over their heads or make them slightly angry that I was being negative.

Especially true for Irony....Right over their heads...Blank-eyed, head tilting stares into space.
posted by jamie939 at 12:12 PM on April 4, 2006


One other funny thing that struck me, reading this thread, is that from my experience, the West coast doesn't really spend all that much time thinking about the East coast. If you say you're from New York, you'll get a "Oh great! NYC is a crazy town! I love to visit there - but so crowded...."

But if you mention the West coast to NYers you often get some kind of snarky statement - its almost as if they view the West coast as some uppity younger sibling that should know its place and spend more time acknowledging the superiority of the East coast.

Its the status thing again. West coasters are the pioneers who left home, who start companies in their garages and build and invent and try new things (e.g. Hewlett-Packard and Silicon Valley, crazy Hollywood.) The East coast can sometimes act like the aloof older brother who stayed home to take care of the folks and wants to be respected for it, pursues things more of out of a sense of not wanting to be left behind (e.g. Silicon Alley)

The East coast brother is indeed smarter - especially in booksmarts and in refined taste - but he could stand to loosen his collar a bit. The West coast is more fun and crazy but could stand to learn some essentials regarding taste and should really take time to read the Classics.
posted by vacapinta at 12:21 PM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


As a Northern Californian, I am surrounded! by foreigners and immigrants. This is one of the reasons I love living in the Bay Area. But working with and being surrounded by people whose first or second language is not English has killed all subtlety in my language, and my use and detection of sarcasm is severely compromised. I'm not sure if this is just more or if it's generic west coast thing, but it wouldn't surprise me.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:25 PM on April 4, 2006


I like this thread.
In NYC, it's okay to eat and walk at the same time. We fold pizzas and wash them down with soda. Many adults don't have driver's licenses and not everyone owns a car. Hour-and-a-half commutes to a job are not unusual. Where you went to school is important. It's possible to ride from downtown to midtown in a subway car where forty pairs of eyes will not meet. Sarcasm is a social skill. You can walk the length of one block (in Queens, particularly) and hear six or seven languages. And when we leave the NYC area to visit you, we will complain about your bagels.
posted by horsewithnoname at 12:33 PM on April 4, 2006 [2 favorites]


NYC leads sartorial fashion. San Francisco leads epicurean fashion.
posted by birdie birdington at 12:34 PM on April 4, 2006 [2 favorites]


Its the status thing again. West coasters are the pioneers who left home, who start companies in their garages and build and invent and try new things (e.g. Hewlett-Packard and Silicon Valley, crazy Hollywood.) The East coast can sometimes act like the aloof older brother who stayed home to take care of the folks and wants to be respected for it, pursues things more of out of a sense of not wanting to be left behind

Funnily enough, I have found West Coasters far more hidebound and less accepting of eccentricity in actual fact, despite the myth (and that is the accurate rendering of the myth).
posted by dame at 12:55 PM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


I grew up in boston and have lived in LA 2.5 years, so here's my take:

West coast culture is more focused on the self, where East coast culture is more focused on the group. Meaning, the west coast is more tolerant of self-expression at the cost of people being more self-centered. The east coast is less tolerant of individuality but generally more giving and warm (at peoples' core.)
posted by milinar at 1:05 PM on April 4, 2006


East Coasters fight for everything -- status, money, love, bagels, apartments, etc. I recall visiting my cousins and recoiling in horror at the sheer numbers of fights they got themselves into. Fistfights, shouting matches, feuds ... the list goes on.

West Coasters don't fight for things. We take them. Sure, we are just as greedy and violent, but we do not fight. In its own way, it is just as evil.

So it's no surprise that East Coast gangs invented the "rumble," while West Coast gangs invented the "drive-by shooting."
posted by frogan at 1:19 PM on April 4, 2006


East Coast: The universe revolves around us!
West Coast: There's a universe?
posted by FuzzyVerde at 1:23 PM on April 4, 2006


Status symbols are for the insecure. Go to a Portland Trailblazers game and see the (temporary) owner Paul Allen with his friend Bill Gates in pastel shirtsleeves.
posted by Cranberry at 1:30 PM on April 4, 2006


I grew up in Central California and now live in Seattle. I used to work at a place where all my colleagues were from the East Coast (Boston, New York, and New Jersey).

They were all incredibly irritated "Left Coasters" didn't dress up to go out to dinner. They'd show up at a nice place in jeans and sandals. (My thought was "You have to dress up to go out to eat? Why? I'd hate that.")

They also hated that mass transit isn't as well developed as it is in the Northeast.

They hated the excessive "please" and "thank you" culture of the West Coast. "May I take your order, please. May I please take your bill? Thank you." Their attitude "I know they are coming to a restaurant to order food. They know they are coming into a restaurant to order food. Why do we have to complicate a simple, efficient business transaction?"

No street food in Seattle. (Well, very little. I can think of only one hot dog stand, and it closes early. Most of the espresso carts have disappeared, too.) Yes, bagels are different on the East Coast, but the pale, sour, burnt brew you guys call coffee is just appalling.

When I visited Manhatten, I was surprised by how well-groomed everyone was. Even the men. However, I was surprised to see middle aged women there dressed with the sort of "glamour" that in Seattle is reserved for transvestites.

Oh, and hour and a half commutes are pretty common on the West Coast, too.
posted by luneray at 1:45 PM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


So, I'm sitting in my apartment right now in San Francisco and I overheard the conversations being had amongst a couple of hippies below my window, working on their VW van, talking about their bike messengering careers.

If they're not fulfilling a stereotype, I'm not sure who is.
posted by birdie birdington at 1:59 PM on April 4, 2006


everyone drinks froo-froo coffee

That's frou-frou. Sorry, my snobby East Coast attitude on spelling and grammar just got the best of me.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 2:01 PM on April 4, 2006


Yes, bagels are different on the East Coast, but the pale, sour, burnt brew you guys call coffee is just appalling.

Well, most of the coffee consumed out East these days comes from West Coast establishments that have made root here: Starbucks, Peet's and Seattle's Best to name a few. That's forced independent coffee houses to up-the-ante in their quality.
posted by ericb at 2:15 PM on April 4, 2006


More on coffee...I was in NYC in 2001, so things may have changed. The difference I noticed is that "decent" coffee was available only in the frou-frou coffeehouses (like Starbucks).

The difference is that in Seattle, even generic coffee, like the kind you get at McDonald's or in 7-11, is a much higher quality than the stuff that was readily available in NYC. It was very, very disappointing to wash down a real NY bagel such awful brew.

(Starbucks is a Seattle business, Peet's is not. But there are two Peet's coffeehouses here. Seattle's Best Coffee was bought by Starbucks, and there are no more SBC coffeehouses in Seattle that I know of. I think you can still buy the roasted coffee in grocery stores, however.)
posted by luneray at 2:50 PM on April 4, 2006


But, yes, we seem to have focused too much in LA vs NYC. Do you guys have anything more specific to New England or the Pacific Northwest?

I am efing sick of the people talking about "The West Coast", and actually meaning California, and actually meaning, Los Angeles.

Pacific Northwest is not anything like Southern California.

As for an answer to the general East Coast/West Coast differences:
On the West Coast you will find real hippies, stations wagons, real mountains and slower paced cities.

On the East Coast you will find boarding schools, and the architecture is a lot older.
posted by Packy_1962 at 3:29 PM on April 4, 2006


Florida: The north half of the state is entirely owned and operated by Disney.

Come back next week and we'll tell you all about them flyover states.
posted by tkolar


How about you just brush up on your geography instead? Disney world is in central florida. It has nothing to do with northern florida. There are no signs of disney in northern florida. i could almost drive to D.C. in the amount of time it would take to get to orlando.
posted by justgary at 3:34 PM on April 4, 2006


justgary writes...
There are no signs of disney in northern florida.

Wait, you're not saying that stereotypes are inaccurate are you? Next you'll be telling me that New York and Chicago aren't really the same city!
posted by tkolar at 3:47 PM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


On the West Coast you will find real hippies, stations wagons, real mountains and slower paced cities.

You'll find plenty of each in Vermont, New Hampshire, Western Mass. and Upstate New York -- including ol' woodies.
posted by ericb at 4:06 PM on April 4, 2006


Someone from Los Angeles can say "Have a nice day" in a way that means "Fuck you." Someone from New York can say "Fuck you" in a way that means "Have a nice day."
posted by tsackett at 4:43 PM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Wow. Awesome thread, even if it is a double (kind of).

Credentials: born in Auburn, CA (just down the road from where they discovered gold, no coincidence), raised around NorCal, school back east, been in NYC for the past 4 years (came here for work, stayed cause I love the city).

First off, I think this song said it best: "Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft." (I accomplished the second part, the first part is still up in the air.)

Secondly, I think PinkSuperhero had it right, in the very first response. All the reasons I love getting off the airplane on my way home to visit the 'rents. Tight, toned, tan bodies (fake? not in cali, come on - no need to pay for it there), blond hair, fake boobs, and all the avacados my heart desires. Which happens to be all the avacados.

Can't believe no one pointed out that saying San Fran represents NorCal is like saying LA represents all of SoCal or NYC represents its home state, for that matter. Actually, I can. I'm probably the only MeFier from Sacramento.

Not sure the point that NorCal and SoCal are two different universes was sufficiently made, but there you have it.

Moving to New York taught me how to dress better, but I already had a decent idea. It taught me how to walk faster, be shrewder, but didn't completely strip me of my manners. It taught me how to fend for myself, and never look lost again, ever. It also taught me to be more concerned for the poor and downtrodden, and be more liberal in my thinking in other ways, too. Its helped me to get more culturally experienced and explore more cuisine, too.

Last, you asked for stereotypes, and you've certainly got a lot to read up on. But I think this much is still important: you will find anomolies wherever you go - a well dressed, shrewd man in Napa or a laid back hippie in Williamsburg. Putting too much creedence in stereotypes will inhibit you from seeing people for who they really are (that's the NYC talking). And it will stop you from chilling - not letting things get to you, but instead enjoying people and life in general (that's the NorCal).
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:10 PM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


People on the west coast wear pink. (It's obscene.)

Did you miss the whole pink fad the past year or two, nixerman? I'm pretty sure most of the (stylish) men in my (Manhattan) office have worn a pink shirt to work.
When Manhattanites wear pink, though, it looks hot. Man, the west coast (at least the NorCal/PNW coast) is ugly. I shouldn't throw too many stones as I am much more west coast-looking than east...
posted by ch1x0r at 6:25 PM on April 4, 2006


I think I'm on the wrong coast.
posted by phrontist at 6:58 PM on April 4, 2006


Remember the Penny cartoons on PeeWee's Playhouse? Early Nick Parks, before Wallace and Gromit, heeeelarious audio of various little girls telling stories from their lives with accompanying claymation? I guess when the series production moved from Manhattan to LA, they tried to tape kids' stories but ended up having to go back to NYC to get anything worth taping, anything with the flavor they needed. I love NYC flavor, salty and spicy and not-at-all avocado.
posted by eve harrington at 8:03 PM on April 4, 2006


I love NYC flavor, salty and spicy and not-at-all avocado.

I think there's a t-shirt waiting for a modification of that phrase:

"I [heart] NYC: salty and spicy and not-at-all avocado."
posted by ericb at 8:53 PM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


luneray wrote,
and there are no more SBC coffeehouses in Seattle that I know of. I think you can still buy the roasted coffee in grocery stores, however.)

There are five of them downtown, several in Bellevue, one at the airport...
posted by lhauser at 9:14 PM on April 4, 2006


There are five of them downtown, several in Bellevue, one at the airport...

As per their website -- there are 10 Seattle's Best Coffee houses in the Seattle area (Fourth Avenue; Broderick Building; 400 Pike Street; 102 Pike Street; Pike Place Market; 1530 Post Alley; Bellevue Square; Factoria Mall; Fred Meyer/Renton Center; Borders Books and Music - Redmond; Seattle Tacoma International Airport)
posted by ericb at 9:29 PM on April 4, 2006


LA:looks, NY: power. My understanding is that Boston and SF feel the same way about their respective neighbors to the south i.e. less intellectual, more attitude.

Native Angelena, currently in NY, sorely misses MA.

Some of the best comparisons of NY and LA (and the Valley) are on pages 3 and 121 of Francesca Lia Block's I was a Teenage Fairy.
posted by brujita at 9:32 PM on April 4, 2006


Damned if this thread hasn't made me realize that a) I'm more of a New Yorker than I originally thought and b) I don't think I could ever live on the West Coast.

My humble opinion (as a Wisconsin girl born and raised) is that the stereotypes of the Midwest are a lot more pervasive and genuinely believed than stereotypes of either coast. But that may just be me.
posted by anjamu at 11:30 PM on April 4, 2006


I'm a day late and a dollar short and don't have anything new to contribute, but so what? I grew up just outside Portland, attended college in Salem, and now actually live in Portland. I've spent 37 years basically in the same spot. I've had little contact with East Coasters.

Except that a good friend's wife was raised in Pennsylvania. Seeing my world through her eyes is always fascianting, and often amusing. For example (and this has been mentioned already in this thread), except on rare occasions, I wouldn't ever consider dressing up to go out for a meal. This woman is appalled by this notion, and she would dress up to go to fast food, which blows my mind. She dresses up no matter what sort of meal we're going out for. Me? I'll only dress up if I'm going to a nice restaurant and/or meeting with somebody I need to impress. I'm told that this woman also dresses up to go to the grocery store. WTF? Wear sweats! That's what theyr'e for!
posted by jdroth at 8:57 AM on April 6, 2006


My mother always told me when I was young that all the crazy people went west and the craziest ended up in California.

I hated LA for years when I would visit - everyone's so slow and spacey and fakey-nice and why don't they shut up about the damn weather already I know it's nice jeez and doesn't anyone here ever have a conversation about anything real because I'm sick of hearing about your crystals and yoga and plastic surgeon - but recently I've started liking it. I got suckered by the palm trees and the ability to eat outside year round.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:59 AM on April 11, 2006


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