News for bears: cities of bears

On the 5th here, postings on the patron saint of bears and on Swiss saintly dogs (with a bow to the city of Bern(e)). Now: more on Bern; on the movie BearCity; and on two California cities of bears, Big Bear City in San Bernardino County and Los Osos in San Luis Obispo County.

Backdrop. My 12/5 posting “News for bears: St. Corbinian”, with

Recent news flashes for bears: the 11/17/18 posting “Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day” (with the customary bow to possible gay subtexts); and the 12/4/18 posting “Santa Barbara: smite him with lightning”, with image #2 — Corrado Parducci’s Horace Rackham Fountain at the Detroit Zoo (1939), featuring a pair of sculpture bears. Now, continuing the lives of the saints theme, but disregarding the many saints named Ursus or Ursula, we come to St. Corbinian, the [Bavarian] patron saint of bears (thanks to the 8th-century Miracle of the Bear).

And my 12/5 posting “News for (massive) dogs: St. Bernard of Menthon”, where image #2 is a map showing location of “Bern(e), which might or might not involve bears etymologically, but has one on its coat of arms”:


The city of Bern. From Wikipedia:

Bern or Berne … is the de facto capital of Switzerland, referred to by the Swiss as their … Bundesstadt, or “federal city”. With a population of 142,656 (March 2018), Bern is the fifth-most populous city in Switzerland. The Bern agglomeration, which includes 36 municipalities, had a population of 406,900 in 2014. The metropolitan area had a population of 660,000 in 2000. Bern is also the capital of the canton of Bern, the second-most populous of Switzerland’s cantons.

The official language in Bern is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the most-spoken language is an Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Bernese German.

In 1983, the historic old town (in German: Altstadt) in the centre of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(#2) Aerial view of the Old City (in a bend in the river Aar(e))

… The etymology of the name “Bern” is uncertain. According to the local legend, based on folk etymology, Berchtold V, Duke of Zähringen, the founder of the city of Bern, vowed to name the city after the first animal he met on the hunt, and this turned out to be a bear. It has long been considered likely that the city was named after the Italian city of Verona, which at the time was known as Bern in Middle High German. As a result of the finding of the Bern zinc tablet in the 1980s, it is now more common to assume that the city was named after a pre-existing toponym of Celtic origin, possibly *berna “cleft”. The bear was the heraldic animal of the seal and coat of arms of Bern from at least the 1220s. The earliest reference to the keeping of live bears in the Bärengraben dates to the 1440s. [The Bärengraben, or Bear Pit, is … [an] enclosure housing bears, situated at the eastern edge of the old city of Bern, next to the Nydeggbrücke and the River Aar.]

… The medieval city is a foundation of the Zähringer ruling family, which rose to power in Upper Burgundy in the 12th century. According to 14th-century historiography (Cronica de Berno, 1309), Bern was founded in 1191 by Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen.

…In 1353, Bern joined the Swiss Confederacy, becoming one of the eight cantons of the formative period of 1353 to 1481.

Whatever the etymology of its name, Bern has been the city of bears for at least 800 years.

BearCity, the movie. Digression on the X City snowclonelet, from my 8/11/07 LLog posting “Yet another snowclone omnibus”, in section 18, beginning with random city and weird city, from Cole Paulson:

Dennis Preston then suggested that “Fat City” was the original, and added that in his perceptual dialectology work in the 1980s he got lots of “N City” nonce names for areas of the U.S.: “Rebel City” (the South), “Eskimo City” (Alaska), “Cowboy City”, etc.

I added that I’d been assuming that the original had a noun X; at some point we got “Sin City”, and then “Spin City” (the television sitcom) as a take-off on that.  More recently, we get adjective Xs, and the use of the formula has extended from place/region names to predicatives applicable to all sorts of things (or people).  These extensions could be from “N City” examples, or they could have developed from “the Adj City” names (like “the Windy City” for Chicago), with the common-noun construction, having a definite article, turned into an anarthrous proper name.  Or, of course, both.

I suggested that the early uses of “Fat City” were for actual places — “Los Angeles is Fat City”, meaning it’s a place of opportunity or success  — or for metaphorical places, as in “I’m in Fat City now” (note the preposition), meaning I’ve achieved success.

Finally, I noted “X City” examples with X probably to be analyzed as a verb: “suck city” (city that sucks), “barf city” (a place that makes you want to vomit, or the act of vomiting), “fuck city” (a place where you can get laid, or getting laid).

And now the film, from Wikipedia:


BearCity is a 2010 American gay-themed comedy-drama film directed by Doug Langway, and written by Langway and Lawrence Ferber. It stars Joe Conti as a young gay man in the “twink” category who fantasizes about larger, hairier men known as “bears”, and his search to find the perfect man.

The sequel BearCity 2: The Proposal was released in the fall of 2012. BearCity 3 was funded by an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, and had a limited release at various LGBT festivals and venues in 2016, and received a full release digitally and on home media in 2017.

A novelization of the [first] film, also written by Lawrence Ferber, was published by Lethe Press’ Bear Bones imprint in 2013.

[Plot:] Tyler, an aspiring actor in his early twenties, has just moved to New York City in an attempt to jump-start his career. Young and slender, he fits in the “twink” category, but finds himself attracted to “bears”, hairy and larger-bodied men. Tyler realizes his expectations of sexual escapades are falling far short of what he would have liked, while simultaneously falling for Roger [Gerald McCullouch], the muscle-bear friend of his roommates Fred [Brian Keane] and Brent [Stephen Guarino]. Meanwhile, Roger fears judgment for being with someone from outside the community, and hesitates to introduce Tyler to his friends.

Another digression, a brief inventory of my postings on bear culture and the gay community:

on 5/25/10, “Waltzing with Bears”: the song, as a children’s song and as gay male song; bear culture

[from Wikipedia:] Bears tend to have hairy bodies and facial hair; some are heavy-set; some project an image of working-class masculinity in their grooming and appearance, though none of these are requirements or unique indicators. Some bears place importance on presenting a hypermasculine image and may shun interaction with, and even disdain, men who exhibit effeminacy. The bear concept can function as an identity, an affiliation, and an ideal to live up to, and there is ongoing debate in bear communities about what constitutes a bear

on 7/15/17, “Wonder Bears!”: bear culture, drag

on 9/23/17, “Bear chairs”: gay bears; the bear pride flag, the leather pride flag

on 4/17/18, “Cuppy and his cub”: bandanna codes; drag names; bears and cubs

on 5/4/18, “Stuff your furry friend”: bear culture

on 11/17/18: Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day: another song; cf. “Waltzing with Bears”

Bear cities of California. Bears have played an enormous role in the history of California, and ursine names, images, and references are everywhere, including on the state seal:


From all of this, I’ll provide just a tiny sample: Big Bear City in San Bernardino County and Los Osos (‘The Bears’) in San Luis Obispo County.

From Wikipedia on the first of these:

Big Bear City is an unincorporated town in San Bernardino County … along the east shore of Big Bear Lake and surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest. It is located 27 miles (43 km) northeast of the city of San Bernardino, and immediately east of the incorporated city of Big Bear Lake. Its population was 12,304 at the 2010 census, up from 5,779 at the 2000 census. The makeup of Big Bear City is mostly residential with smaller houses and cabins laid out in typical square block fashion.

… Big Bear got its name due to the large number of grizzly bears that once roamed the area. Although grizzly bears went extinct in the valley at the turn of the 20th century, there are still thousands of black bears found in Big Bear Valley

Looking east at Big Bear Valley from Butler Peak lookout tower in the San Bernardino National Forest:


On the actually incorporated city, from Wikipedia:

Big Bear Lake is a small city in San Bernardino County, California, located in the San Bernardino Mountains along the south shore of Big Bear Lake, and surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest. The city is located about 25 miles (40 km) northeast of the city of San Bernardino, and immediately west of the unincorporated town of Big Bear City. The population was approximately 5,019 at the 2010 census, down from 5,438 at the 2000 census. However, since it is a popular year-round resort destination, the actual number of people staying in or visiting the greater Big Bear Valley area regularly surges to over 100,000 during many weekends of the year.

And on the lake, from Wikipedia:

Big Bear Lake is a reservoir in the San Bernardino Mountains …. At a surface elevation of 6,743 ft (2,055 m), it has an east-west length of approximately 7 mi (11 km) and is approximately 2.5 mi (4.0 km) at its widest measurement, though the lake’s width mostly averages a little more than 1⁄2 mi (0.8 km). … At dam’s end Big Bear measures its deepest water at 72 ft (22 m). It is a completely snow-fed lake, having no other means of tributary or mechanical replenishment.

Located 100 miles (160 km) east of Los Angeles and surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear Lake is accessible via four scenic highways: Highway 330 from Highland, Highway 38 from Redlands, Highway 18 from Victorville, and Highway 18 from San Bernardino.

To the north and on the coast (rather than inland), we come to Los Osos. From Wikipedia:

(#6) Los Osos flagged on the map; and note San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles

Los Osos is an unincorporated community and a census-designated place located along the Pacific coast of San Luis Obispo County, California. … The population was 14,276 at the 2010 census.

Los Osos is largely a bedroom community for San Luis Obispo, which is 10.6 miles east, and to a lesser extent, Morro Bay, which is 2.3 miles to the north.

(#7) View of Los Osos and Morro Bay from Broderson Hill

… [History:] On September 7 – 8, 1769, the Portolà expedition traveled through the San Luis Obispo area on his way to rediscover the Bay of Monterey. Finding an abundance of bears in the area, his diarist, Padre Juan Crespi, O.F.M., recorded that the name given the area by his soldiers was “Los Osos”.

Much further north we get the Cal Golden Bears, the football team of UC Berkeley (and the traditional rival of the Stanford Cardinal). Here a bear, there a bear, everywhere a bear.

[Addendum 12/8, on the bear statues of Los Osos:

(#8) The bear statue on Los Osos Valley Road; local artist Paula Zima created twin guard bear statues, one for each of the two entrances to Los Osos ]

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