February 14, 2010
It’s not because Herb Caen got hot under the collar about it.
And yeah, I know it was practically the official name of the City in the decades following the Gold Rush — a moniker beloved by locals and visitors alike.
In fact, here’s Exhibit A on the pro-Frisco side, a song sung by thousands of ’49ers to the tune of Oh Susanna:
“I soon shall be in Frisco and there I’ll look around,
And when I find the gold lumps there I’ll pick them off the ground.
Oh, California, that’s the life for me … “
My own aversion to the undignified moniker of “Frisco” comes straight from the regal lips of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico.
In 1872, the good Emperor issued the following edict:
“Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abominable word “Frisco”, which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor, and shall pay into the Imperial Treasury as penalty the sum of twenty-five dollars.”
As far as I’m concerned, thus endeth the discussion.
But not in Hollywood! In fact, this little rant was inspired by Paul Potocky’s post over at SF Bay Timeless (or whatever the heck it’s called): Hollywood calls us Frisco!, a very entertaining list of the films which have helped to perpetuate the irritating misnomer.
By my calculations, Hollywood owes about eleventy bazillion dollars to Norton’s Imperial Treasury.