California culture: Wikis


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The culture of California is a Western culture and most clearly has its roots in the culture of the United States. As a border and coastal state, however, Californian culture has been greatly influenced by several large immigrant populations, especially those from Latin America and East Asia. California is a true melting pot as well as an international crossroad to the U.S.[1]

California has long been a subject of interest in the public mind and has often been promoted by its boosters as a kind of paradise. In the early 20th Century, fueled by the efforts of state and local boosters, many Americans saw the Golden State as an ideal resort destination, sunny and dry all year round with easy access to the ocean and mountains. In the 1960s, popular music groups such as the Beach Boys promoted the image of Californians as laid-back, tanned beach-goers.

In terms of socio-cultural mores and national politics, Californians are perceived as more liberal than other Americans, especially those who live in the inland states. In some ways, California is the quintessential Blue State-- accepting of alternative lifestyles, not uniformly religious, and preoccupied with environmental issues. California is also home to many prestigious universities including UC Berkeley, UCLA, Cal Tech, and Stanford.

The gold rush of the 1850s is still seen as a symbol of California's economic style, which tends to generate technology, social, entertainment, and economic fads and booms and related busts.



English is the primary language of California's inhabitants. Spanish is a prevalent second language, as is Chinese in the Bay Area and areas around Los Angeles, as well as Korean in Los Angeles.

California English is a dialect of the English language spoken within California. California is home to a highly diverse populace, which is reflected in the historical and continuing development of California English. As is the case of English spoken in any particular state, not all features are used by all speakers in the state, and not all features are restricted in use only to the state. However, there are some linguistic features which can be identified as either originally or predominantly Californian, or both.

As the nation's major motion picture, and television entertainment center, Hollywood has influenced California English throughout the nation, even the world, by making English speakers of many dialects very visible and by making known new terms and new meanings.[2]




California is home to Hollywood, the left of the American film industry, which has given rise to the popular fashion movie-star image and stereotypical beach dwelling surfers.

The American Film industry.


The guitar was the instrument that the Mexican state of Alta California chose and two composers for the instrument are represented in the collection.[3] Manuel Y. Ferrer's were collected in a book of 144 pages, called "Compositions and Arrangements for the Guitar" published in San Francisco in 1882, then reprinted in Boston by Oliver Ditson in 1915. Many of his pieces appear in the sheet music collection. [3] An additional Californian artist, of the name of Luis T. Romero is represented his 1889 arrangement for guitar of La Paloma by Yradier.

In 1898, a collection called "Characteristic Songs of the Spanish Californians" was published as Canciones del Pais de California" in Santa Barbara.

California is also the origin of countless modern popular music groups and singers, including Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beach Boys, Green Day, Linkin Park, Metallica, The Game, Rage Against the Machine, No Doubt, and Snoop Dogg.

Californians skaters and musicians created a sub-genre of punk rock called skate punk. Bands like The Offspring, NOFX, Bad Religion are examples of this genre


Notable authors who were either native to California or who wrote extensively about California include:

  • John Steinbeck, was widely as a regionalist, mystic, and proletarian writer. A prolific writer, he is one of the best known and read writers of the 20th Century.
  • Joan Didion, the author of five novels and eight books of nonfiction
  • Wallace Stegner, known as the "Dean of Western Writers"
  • Raymond Chandler, who wrote about the dark underbelly of mid-20th Century Los Angeles
  • John Muir, who spent years in the Sierras and brought Yosemite to international prominence
  • Ken Kesey, a counter-cultural figure; was an American author, best known for his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • Richard Henry Dana, Jr., who wrote about his 19th Century voyage to California and the namesake of Dana Point
  • María Ruiz de Burton, the first female Mexican-American author to write in English; wrote The Squatter and the Don, under the pen name "C. Loyal".
  • Dashiell Hammett, an American author on hardboiled detective novels and short stories
  • James M. Cain, was an American journalist and novelist
  • James Ellroy writer
  • John Fante, an American novelist, short-story and screenwriter of Italian descent.
  • Charles Bukowski, a member of the Beat Movement.
  • Robert Frost, poet, born and raised (until age 11) in San Francisco.
  • Jack London, born in San Francisco.
  • Richard Brautigan, counterculture poet and writer, and one-time poet-in-residence at the California Institute of Technology, San Francisco resident


California boasts many notable museums, including:

Food and cuisine

The first cookbook in California initiated the "fair ones of the Pacific Coast". Boiled Orange Pudding is one of the typical fruits of California.[4] San Franciscan H.J. Clayton in his 1883 book, started the now-common practice of naming the farm where the produce he cooked with derived

Los Angeles notability

The Landmarks Club Cookbook was published in 1903 when it was a fundraiser to restore Spanish missions in California. The authors of Los Angeles would hail the city the culinary diverse city around. [4] Charles Lummis, a Los Angeles preservationist, who had founded the Landmarks club, went on to explain that denizens of the desert Southwest should observe ancient culinary traditions and eat more Chile peppers[4] .

Abundance in fruits inspired early chefs

Sixty years ago, when avocados were unfamiliar to most Americans, the growers of subtropical fruit tried to persuade consumers, including a recipe for ice cream. Before tomatoes took over the catsup niche, everything from plums to mushrooms were raw material for the popular condiment.[4] Two peach recipes from California's top two cities were made at the last turn of the century, and five orange recipes in a 1928 book. Fruit festivals are often found in California, like the National Orange Show Festival in San Bernardino County.


California often gets a reputation for environmentalism. Californians, especially those living on the coasts, are viewed as being conscious of the natural environment and environmental issues in general. The environmental culture of California can be partly attributed to public outrage at the major oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel in 1969. The influential social conditions resulting from this oil spill are explained in detail by environmental sociologist Harvey Molotch.[5]

In 1965, California state became the first to regulate vehicle exhaust by setting limits on hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide emissions. In 1967, the California EPA set the nation's first air quality standards for total suspended particulates, photochemical oxidants, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other pollutants. The United States Congress has allowed California to set its own pollution standards. California legislators have responded with some of the strongest environmental laws ever passed. [6]

More recently with the controversial issue of global warming, some Californians are worried the ice caps are melting and thereby increasing the water levels particularly along the coast.[citation needed] Additionally, warming trends at their present rates, experts. generally agree that the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is crucial to the state's drinking water, could decline by approximately 50%.


Public universities and colleges

California offers a unique three-tier system of public postsecondary education:

The preeminent research university system in the state is the University of California (UC), which employs more Nobel Prize laureates than any other institution in the world, and is considered one of the world's finest public university systems. There are nine general UC campuses, and a number of specialized campuses in the UC system.
The California State University (CSU) system has over 400,000 students, making it the largest university system in the United States. It is the oldest public institution of higher learning in the State of California, and is intended to accept the top one-third (1/3) of high school students. The CSU campuses were originally separately-established normal schools, but are now organized in a comprehensive university system, awarding Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees.
The California Community Colleges system provides lower division courses. It is composed of 109 colleges, serving a student population of over 2.9 million.

Private universities and colleges

California is also home to such notable private universities as Stanford University, the University of Southern California (USC), and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). California has hundreds of other private colleges and universities, including many religious and special-purpose institutions.

Public secondary education consists of high schools that teach elective courses in trades, languages, and liberal arts with tracks for gifted, college-bound and industrial arts students. California's public educational system is supported by a unique constitutional amendment that requires 40% of state revenues to be spent on education.

Beach culture

The state's proximity to the ocean influences many aspects of California culture and daily life. Surfing is an extremely popular sport in California, where the famed spots of Trestles, Rincon, Mavericks, The Wedge, Malibu reside. Some of the world's most renowned surf companies, including Hurley, Quiksilver, Volcom, O'Neill, Body Glove, RVCA are all headquartered in California. Some of the worlds most renowned surfers, including Bobby Martinez, Dane Reynolds, Tom Curren, Taylor Knox, and Rob Machado are all from California.

Surfing (particularly in Southern California) has its own slang, which has coincided with Valspeak. Words like "tubular", "radical", and "gnarly" are associated with both. In the late 1960s Santa Cruz and Northern California developed their own slang like "groovy" and "tight".

Northern-Southern California rivalry

Although unified as one single state, Northern California and Southern California share a notorious rivalry. "NorCal" or "SoCal" pride is a very large part of many residents' culture. In the early days of the state, this owed significantly to the fact that many Northern Californians were transplants from the Northern United States, while Southern Californians primarily hailed from the South.

This has historically manifested through differences in regional dialect, as well as politics. Southern California has historically been more conservative, while Northern California has been more liberal, to the point that "San Francisco values" has become a well-established pejorative among conservatives in both state and national politics. An early example of this is the 1860 Presidential election, in which Southern Democrat John Breckinridge won in the southern counties, while the more populous San Francisco Bay Area carried the state for Abraham Lincoln. Southern California was also a determining factor in Bill Clinton's election. As statewide politics have moved further to the left, Southern California's political geography has become increasingly moderate, though it is home to many prominent neocons such as Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa.

Today, this rivalry manifests itself most prominently in the state's professional sports, where rivalries are especially heated between the following teams:

See also

References and bibliography

  • 1. "California culture: From Gold Rush to Pure Golden State". Universal World Reference Encyclopedia. 13, book 1. V.S. Thatcher. 1964. pp. 231–233. 64-12955. 

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