Living in Orange County is awesome. The weather is beautiful pretty much 11 months out of the year, and those 30 days of bad weather are scattered throughout fall and winter. We’re the home of Disneyland, Surf City USA, some of the most beautiful and beautifully preserved missions and the Pageant of the Masters. If none of that revs your engine, we have some of the best shopping California has to offer between South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island, not to mention the world class Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale and a some of the most exciting sports events in the US. For the hipsters, we have incredible coffee shops that roast their own beans, tons of overpriced vintage boutiques, the Bluth family, and more raw & vegan eateries than you can shake a stick at. For the anti-hipster, we’re famous for our outrageous (and OG) Real Housewives as well as The OC (though I’d argue that Orange County with Jack Black and Colin Hanks was here first and I’d much rather be known for that). We’re a foodie’s wonderland, a health-nut’s heaven, a family’s entertainment mecca. Orange County has something for everyone and it is at its core many, many things.
What Orange County is not, however, is Los Angeles. Los Angeles is a land of its own. Los Angeles lies within the bounds of, oh, hey, whaddya know, Los Angeles County. Yes, we have a lot in common. We both have our slums, we have our upper class meccas. We’re both home to the top 1% as well as the rest of the 99%. But so is New York. So is Dallas. So are Atlanta, Miami and DC. But we’re not at all the same.
Now technicially (according to Wikipedia), Orange County is a part of the “Greater Los Angeles Area” and “Los Angeles Metropolitan Area.” I understand these, but when well reputed news sources say that an event in Seal Beach was in the “Los Angeles Area,” I think it’s reasonable to find the writer(s) misguided. When reporting a geographic trend? Totally. OC/LA/Riverside/San Bernardino are absolutely a geographic region to lump together. But when reporting a local event, specificity is part and parcel of accuracy. People know where Orange County, California is, even if they don’t know that Disneyland lives there.
And that’s another thing. Orange County doesn’t get credit for all we have to offer. Poor little Anaheim – if you asked anyone that isn’t from or in some way connected to California what is special about Anaheim, they might know about the Angels (whom Los Angeles decided to claim as their own despite having the Dodgers) and the Ducks. Disneyland? Oh, I thought that was in LA. NOPE. We have our own identity, but it’s like having an overachiever older sibling go through school before you and getting all the same teachers. You get compared and tested, and ultimately, you’re either known as the younger sibling or you both lose your individual identities and you’re the Smith kids.
So please, the next time you write about your visit to the US Open of Surf or the Sawdust Festival or that great bakery in Costa Mesa, give some love to the coolest county on the West Coast.
P.S. We don’t actually call ourselves “The OC.” It’s just kind of an embarrassing running joke.