I have plenty of friends in and from California, but I don’t think California is fundamentally a friendly place. It’s open – it’s easy to become part of the community (inasmuch as there is a community), much easier than in New England or, I suspect, the South – but that’s not the same thing as friendly.
Now New York, my hometown, that’s a friendly place. And open – it’s relatively easy to join the community, and there is a community. We’re certainly not polite – we’re frankly rude – but we’re open and friendly.
Open versus Closed: how easy is it to join the community?
Friendly versus Cold: is the community mutually supportive and warm to outsiders, or the opposite?
Tolerant versus Conformist: does the community expect everyone to be the same, or can you fly your freak flag with relative impunity?
Polite versus Rude: does the community enforce codes of deference, courtesy and respect, or is socially abrasive behavior the norm?
I would call New York Open, Friendly (more friendly than people think), Tolerant (but not as tolerant as people think) and Rude. I am not as familiar with the South, but from my experience and from what I hear, I’d call it Closed, Friendly, Tolerant and Polite. California I’d call Open, Cold, Tolerant and Rude.
Noah Millman, commenting at Rod Dreher’s place. I like this system very much, though I would add that you need to think not just in terms of regions but in terms of urban/rural divides within regions.