Disneyland: On one of our first dates, my husband and I discussed Baudrillard's Disneyland-as-noxious-myth while we rode the tram from the parking lot to the entrance. We still enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and our Carnation ice cream sandwiches. Our Disneyland stands next to the 5 Freeway as a symbol for the best things in the world or as an abomination to all mankind, our gift to you.
John Wayne Airport: That's the name of our Orange County airport, because John Wayne lived in Newport Beach and was a beloved local. An American icon, a handsome hunk, he too represents everything right or wrong with America. As you wait for your ride to pick you up, you wait beside a colossal Rooster Cogburn era statue of The Duke.
Oh, those crazy politicians! B-2 Bob Dornan, former congressman John Schmitz (father of Mary Kay Letourneau!), Dana Rohrbacher, Costa Mesa mayor Larry Mansour, Robert Citron, Birther candidate Orly Taitz, and of course "Tricky Dick" Nixon. We are home to his Presidential Library in Yorba Linda and his Western White House in San Clemente. If you're not sure who the others are, google their names--you're in for an education.
Beige stucco houses in master-planned communities: We are the home of the planned community; we live under the thumb of our homeowners' associations. Seen those photos of endless identical McMansions sloping down hillsides? That's us.
Millionaires: A childhood friend's parents' house was recently put on the market and described by the realtor as "a place that 'Lovey and Thurston' [of Gilligan's Island] could have lived in." I love that the referent is to fake characters on a bad TV show, which kind of sums it all up--no Carnegie or Gatesian nobility is expected here. Maybe the realtor was getting all "meta" on us, since the show's opening scene, where the castaways' little vessel is seen leaving for the the three hour tour, was filmed in Newport Harbor.
Fake Millionaires: Irvine in the OC has been cited as the birthplace for the bad loans that led to our current mortgage debacle; there were many victims but also many abusers and everyone who lives here probably knows a few of them. I'd never heard the term "HELOC abuse" until recently: HELOC abuse is maxing out on a home equity line of credit on one's property in order to spend the money on stuff until it goes into foreclosure: a greedy way to pay for Cadillac Escalades, restaurant-quality kitchens, closets of clothes, plastic surgery, and helicopter skiing vacations. Live like there's no tomorrow, people!
Beautiful people: Everyone has or has had a career in the fitness industry.
Reality TV Stars: The first Real Housewives realty-TV franchise was started here. We were the first! And we became hooked on a fictional TV show called The OC, about the difficulties of being a rich and miserable teenager, which created the reality show spin-offs Laguna Beach, Life of Ryan, and Newport Harbor, all of which followed local teenage scions. We watch to see our streets and landmarks and our regional stereotypes played out for the world to see, gawk at, and mock. It's totally random, dude.
Poets: We're here, we really are. Well, to many locals, to call oneself a poet would be about as strange as if you said you were a wheelwright or a cordwainer so I avoid saying that I am one: I'd surely be on their list of oddballs who make up this weird and weirdly American locale.