Don’t Go Back to Rockville
No one shows any love to Maryland.
I came to this conclusion driving home one night. I was cruising down the 405 while listening to the radio. If you ever listen to the radio in California, you will quickly realize there are thousands of songs about California, mainly because you will hear every single one of them in the course of your drive. “Hotel California,” “Californication,” “California Love,” “Beverly Hills,” “Santa Cruz,” “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” “California Girls,” “City of Angels,” “California”–each one played on endless rotation as if all DJs are under strict orders by the Government, lest everyone forgets what State they’re in.
“If an hour has gone by and no Red Hot Chili Peppers has played, people will think this is Alabama,” State officials have warned all DJs. “Also for the love of god, DON’T PLAY ‘SWEET HOME ALABAMA!’ ”
Maryland is under no illusions about its place in American hearts. If California is treasured and idealized, Maryland is barely remembered, then mistaken for DC. California has the Pacific Ocean. Maryland has the Chesapeake Bay. California has Haight-Ashbury. Maryland has Annapolis. California has Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Maryland has crab fishing. On the Chesapeake. Which, if you’re hoping for a “Deadliest Catch” scenario, is the equivalent of setting cages in the woods and going back every couple of weeks to see if a monumentally stupid deer has wandered into one. And then probably having to let it go when it doesn’t meet federal size requirements.
California has songs. The only song ever written about Maryland is the song about my hometown: “Don’t Go Back to Rockville.” The chorus is the words “Don’t go back to Rockville” repeated six times before ending with “and waste another year.”
But really, in all honesty people, why can’t we revere our panhandled Eastern state? It has nice things like nicer places, and gritty things like gritty places (I defy you to find a grittier city than Baltimore). It has a lot of Government contractors and suburbs. It holds a very interesting Renaissance fair. If you don’t feel like driving to DC, it’s got a lot of theatres that run weird plays. It has strip malls! To be honest, Maryland is on par with California. So where are the power-ballads about Anne Arundel County?
It boils down to one thing: image. To the average American, California is a pretty paradise full of nice pretty people, and no amount of the truth is going to dissuade them. The Cali Ideal is in our culture, ingrained so deeply we have no idea where our palm-tree dreams even began. The way conservatives long for an America that never was, we long for a California that’s more perfect than perfection; never mind failing schools, a bankrupt economy, or the hellish, hellish summer. California’s name even rolls off the tongue; Maryland just doesn’t have the same pizazz.
But don’t fret, Maryland. Your time is coming. Just as SoCal once acted as a beacon to those looking for work and a new way of life, so too does MoCo beckon with it’s Government contracting jobs and it’s well-regarded schools. CA may get young people with dreams while MD gets middle-aged people with mortages, but those middle-aged people have kids. Kids who will grow up a stones throw away from the majestic view of the Capitol Building, going to free museums and hanging out in expansive backyards, playing street hockey on warm summer evenings until the fireflies come out and they can’t even see their water-bottle puck anymore. These are the kids who will grow into the generation that will finally give Maryland it’s break, recognizing it for what it is: not a sexy city but a playground for memories, old and young, which should be treasured in its own right. Those are the kids who will write the songs for Maryland.
Or will move across the country to L.A. Hey, listen to the song folks, and Rockvillians, I will see you BACK in Rockville starting next week!