I’m going to break something to you gently.
It’s going to hurt.
It’s going to hurt some of you quite a bit. In fact, as much as having your spleen removed by tractor, rope and very angry Texan.
But here goes: America has moved. It’s no longer epitomized by Texas or New York. Its heart is no longer in the Heartland.
America’s America is in the Bay Area.
While you spit what looks curiously like a mixture of blood, Linda Blair’s remaining entrails and a starter from one of my less favorite restaurants, please consider some truths.
Silicon Valley runs America.
Indeed, it’s making so many traditional parts of American business run.
There’s something pleasantly chilling about how a few boys with pimples and no dress sense have managed to usurp power with little more than a laptop and a year’s supply of Taco Bell.
Their machines and silly little algorithms aren’t merely serving to please America by supplying instant gratification of the mind, body and, especially, ego.
They are now beginning to dictate what you do and don’t like, will and won’t like and, dare I mention it, can and can’t like.
Can you even remember the days when a virtual like didn’t make your actual day? Can you remember the days when you didn’t spend at least an hour commenting on someone’s wedding/baby/vacation/drunken party pictures?
Welcome to America.
Don’t you see how the Valley has sucked you into its way of life, its way of thinking and its way of reconstructing your values?
But the Web isn’t everything, is it? There are still thing that are quintessentially American.
Sports, for example.
Well, the San Francisco Giants have won the touchingly-named World Series three years out of five. The Golden State Warriors are the best team in basketball. Yes, the Golden State Warriors of the Bay Area.
Hell, we even managed to win America’s own Cup here. Yes, there were whispers of subterfuge and chicanery after this one, but America wouldn’t be America without at least one shenanigan at the heart of things.
I can feel you still resisting, while retching at the same time.
I can hear you mutter that there are still plenty of sports the Bay Area beautifully fails at.
Look at those San Jose Sharks, you squeal. The ultimate in flattering before shameless deception brings it to a chilly end.
Then there’s the San Francisco 49ers. A sad, unruly mob of drunken wastrels and vagrants who almost won a Super Bowl and then turfed their coach out of town claiming they wanted to win “classy.”
I will try and answer your grunts as succinctly as I can.
The Sharks: too many Canadians.
The 49ers: they’re now halfway to LA.
There’s a certain core about the Bay Area, beyond which the power frays and judgment is replaced by a committee of poisonous mushrooms.
There’s so much more, though, that makes the Bay Area America’s new center.
With Napa and Sonoma, we are the center of America’s wine. America didn’t use to drink wine. If it did, it was from a box and out of a plastic cup.
Now, people from places like Oklahoma and Tennessee come here to sip, sample and learn a couple of weeks later that they ordered $5,000 worth of fine Cabernet Sauvignon while drunk.
It’s well known, too, that our restaurants are America’s finest.
Yes, some of our restaurateurs can behave like children who dropped their raspberry popsicle in the toilet.
But they do manage to consistently create excellent food, with produce from local farms and the enthusiasm of a child who got his popsicle back, shoved it in a sous-vide, slathered it in liquid nitrogen and made it as good as new.
Did I mention produce? Well, here it’s all remarkably real. No plastic lemons or lettuce that tastes like it’s made from recycled cardboard. (Hullo, New York. How are you?)
Then there’s our sunshine. We do get an absurd amount of it. Thanks to the blessing of global warming, even the fog isn’t as menacingly spoil-sporty as it used to be.
While you’re sitting there shivering like a teenager before an STD test, I’m sitting here in my shorts, the doors to my deck open, staring out at a cloudless sky. Yes, in January.
I can hear you offer one last snort as you die from lack of an argument. “It’s so damn expensive to live there,” you say.
To which I look at you with sorrow and soothe in my best nurse’s voice: “And New York isn’t?”
I know we can seem passive-aggressive at times.
But isn’t that America too, these days? We stare out at the world, wanting to thump it into sense, but we know it’s not going to do any good, so why bother?
Today’s America wants to control the world from an armchair, win (at sports), bask in sunshine, eat and drink very well and cease all this wretched fighting.
America isn’t Texas any more. It’s isn’t Kansas. It isn’t Noah’s Arkansas either.
America’s America is the Bay Area.