14 January 2009


If I tell you that there are certain things that cannot be found by Google or Wikipedia, would you believe me? My recent exposure to Yahoo!Answer led to a question about the use of 9OH!9 to refer to a city. I discovered that some people, in their MySpace profiles, list 9OH!9 as their city. The state is always California, so this mystical "city" must be somewhere in California. I love words and puns so the issue appears interesting to me.

Since there are five characters and California zip codes start with 9, I tried to figure it out from the zip code angle. I am familiar with the practice of substituting letters with numbers in writing, such as making hard-to-guess password. 9OH!9, I concluded, is supposed to be 90819, a zip code for part of Long Beach. The 9s are just themselves, but O as in orange is a stand-in for zero, H sounds like 8, and exclamation mark or bang ( ! ) looks like one ( 1 ). Frustratingly, USPS.gov does not list such a zip code. Still, I did come across some phone directories on the web that do list 90819, so can it be that the USPS.gov is wrong or outdated? Such was my first conclusion. It probably has something to do with the show 90210.

I like to treat this research scientifically. If someone can independently arrive at the same conclusion, then together we can declare my answer is the ultimate truth. Asking the librarian at the local library near my office did not help. He just Googled for it and couldn't offer anything else. In a perfect world, my librarian would log into Internet 2, a parallel Information Highway that is spam-free and ad-free which really has all the answer in the world. Oh well.

Next, I asked a cousin of mine, a teenage girl who has her own MySpace page, so perhaps it's something she already knows. She doesn't, but did mention that there's a musical band called 3OH!3. Wiki says that 3OH!3 got their name from the area code, 303, of Denver and surrounding area. I see the pattern now - 9OH!3 is probably 909. Wiki has an entry about 909 area code in California.

Instead of listing your real city, people choose to put down an area code. Other than appearing mysterious, I don't see the value of it - why not just fake the whole thing? If you live in Long Beach, CA, just say you are in Columbus, OH. There's probably a whole subculture out there. I invite someone from the subculture to speak up or provide links to it.


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