Excerpt:Â The Navy had taught Steven Nary a good deal in the six months he had been in the service. It had even taught about some of the dangers he would face in the Bay Area, like violent crime and venereal disease and earthquakes. The Navy had taught him nothing, however, about the often cruel and indifferent forces that comprise California's cultural tectonics. No one knew enough to teach him.
In many ways the state's culture mimics its geology, including the omnipresent fear of a "big one." During the course of its brief human history, cultural island after island has rammed up and into the state.