This article is part of the The Great American Reach Around series.
This week is a very special Great American Reach Around, because I get to kick back and just play host to three very talented writers and let them tell us about their cities. Our journey begins in California, where Corey "Mackieman" Terrell and Laura "Surly Girl" Coleman have set up shop. Corey offers a balanced view of San Diego and Laura is sure to raise a few eyebrows with her cynical take of Los Angeles. Okay, maybe not, since many Americans look down on the city of Los Angeles almost as much as they look down on last week's state of Texas.
The slim foreign portion of this week's GARA update comes from the far-away continent of Africa. Johannesburg, South Africa exemplifies the economic divides and strife that have characterized South Africa since before the end of Apartheid. We also had the land of borscht and vodka, Russia, scheduled for this installment, but it would seem Russians are incapable of meeting deadlines. Perhaps I should have characterized their contribution as more of a quota. I think Russians over the age of about 20 have a pretty good grasp of how those things work.
We begin in the gigantic and mighty state of California. California is America's most populous and economically important state. Its GDP is the eighth largest in the world, placing it just behind Italy and ahead of Canada, Spain, Russia, India, and most of the rest of the world. California is geographically diverse, with temperate climates in the north and desert conditions in the south. It has a large Latino immigrant population and is as culturally diverse as it is economically diverse
Within the United States the popular image of California is of a gaudy land of liberalism, hippies, and celebrities. I have visited both of today's cities twice and I would tend to agree with this assessment, although the gaudiness is a bit overplayed if you've ever been to Las Vegas.
Mock all we want, California is probably the state of the Union best-equipped to exist independent of the United States. Its powerful economy and diverse industrial, technological, and agricultural base would allow it to be self-sufficient in a way few other states can boast. That might be why lame science fiction writers like to visualize a future in which California is a nation unto itself.
Guilty as charged, I admit.
But, enough about me and the state of California from the perspective of an outsider. Let's get down and dirty in San Diego.
Corey "Mackieman" Terrell
San Diego, California
North of San Diego is the enchanted land of Los Angeles, where the stars come out at night and don't where panties when they get out of cars. Laura "Surly Girl" Coleman, our first female GARA writer, bring us her view as an LA transplant from Chicago.
Transgressive author Chuck Palahniuk is here to help with tips and tricks to hacking your life.
Not what I had in mind when I ordered an Italian gondolier. This is literally just a tiny toy. Needless to say, the Italian businessmen were not impressed and I looked like a damn fool. We lost the pizza pie account and will have to lay off half our factory.
Time to applaud the man who applauds in a loop until the end of time.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.