We all wonder if Los Angeles is the best place to be living. The traffic. The noise. The pollution. The violence. The hustle. The constant grind to make money. And it’s so expensive. Is it worth it? I wondered.
One day, I sat down with a cup of coffee and thought about it. I didn't miss the rain, sleet and snow of Boston. And all the clothing that weather requires. The Santa Monica beach was there but I wasn’t going. Why? Was I too busy? Too old? Too stuck? Too cynical? Too what?
I didn’t know but some thing needed to change (and it was me.)
I started to look around and see Los Angeles in a different light. I started to focus on what I liked about Los Angeles. And I...
I love LA!
Beaches. Hikes. Public transportation. Farmers’ Market. Diversity. Weather. Movies. Wine vineyards. Great food. Bikes rides. Beautiful homes. Parks. Oscars. Bogey boarding. Griffith Park. Trips to the snow. Camping. Fishing. Culture of the movieland. The land of rock ’n' roll.
This article was sent to me by a client. I hope you enjoy it.
p.s. I still get excited when I see light(s), camera and action!
10 Things To Get Over!
1) Hating the San Fernando Valley
40% or so of Angelenos live in the Valley. More than the population of Philadelphia. If you live in LA and know more than 10 people you probably know someone who lives in the Valley. Sure, it’s a newer, sprawl-ier place than a lot of Los Angeles. Sure, it’s typically 10 degree (F) hotter than a lot of Los Angeles. Sure, it doesn’t have quite the cultural facilities like some other parts of Los Angeles. But let’s not get started on the lack of interesting qualities in a lot of places from where you might have moved.
Plenty of awesome stuff comes from the valley. Do you like movies from Disney, Warner Brothers or Universal? Do you watch television on CBS, ABC or NBC? Have a problem with Marilyn Monroe? Or anyone on this list?
GET OVER IT!
2) There are no seasons in Los Angeles
Okay, I understand that you might miss a crisp fall day with the leaves changing if you live in New England. In Los Angeles, that’s the depth of Winter.
Sure snow is pretty when it’s falling or has recent fallen, but does anyone look forward to shovelling it? Or when it turns to dirty slush? Or the sidewalk ices over and you risk your life to shuffle down the street?
Oh, and Spring, don’t start with Spring. Spring is all in bloom and green in May… after two months of rainy wet and mud.
LA has winter… it’s drizzly or brisk and cool. Sometimes you need a jacket or a sweater, but at least you can still get around without special tires or digging the walk out. LA has spring… it’s beautiful and green, and the air clears up, and there are lots of wildflowers in bloom… spring in LA is gorgeous. Summers can get hot, but we have great beaches AND it is, in fact, a dry heat, so you can use a FAN or OPEN YOUR WINDOWS instead of running the AC most of the time. It still cools off at night so there is respite! And LA has Fall… it’s bright and clear like Spring, some trees do lose their leaves, and you don’t have to worry about snow on Halloween or Thanksgiving.
GET OVER IT!
3) Everyone is in the Industry
That’s like saying that EVERYONE in Detroit works for the auto industry. Or, everyone in San Francisco works at a Start-up. Or, everyone in Houston works for Oil and Gas companies. Or, everyone Austin is trying to start a band… There are lots and lots of people who don’t work in the Industry and don’t really care about the Industry. You know how many people living in Los Angeles are in “entertainment occupations”? In 2001 it was 1.8%!
Yup, 98.2% of the people who live in Los Angeles do not work in entertainment. If you find yourself surrounded by people “in the industry” you’re missing out on, literally, over 4 million people who work in Los Angeles. It’s less than 75,000 people that work in entertainment. And you know what, it doesn’t make all 75,000 of those people famous and rich, for many it’s a job, it puts food on the table and your kids through college.
GET OVER IT!
4) Los Angeles has no Public Transit
Los Angeles has the second largest bus system in the US behind New York City. Which makes sense, because it is the second largest city in the US. It has the third largest transit system by ridership in the US as well.
Why do people think there is no transit? Some guesses:
– There is no single center. New York’s subway is built to get you to Manhattan, especially Mid Town and lower… where people from outside of Manhattan, or the residential parts of Manhattan work. Chicago gets you Downtown too. It’s easier to plan a system if you’re really focused on getting people to a concentrated single area for work.
– There are literally dozens of other transit systems from surrounding and overlapping cities like Culver City’s Bus, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, Foothill Transit and so on, which don’t always play nice with each other.
So it’s not that it isn’t there, it’s that it’s really complicated and people just don’t want to figure it out. So they jump in the car.
GET OVER IT!
5) Los Angeles is a Desert
NO it’s not. Is it a hold over from the politicking about the Owens Valley Aquaduct? Is it an out-dated or inaccurate definition? Is it all of those things? Yes.
GET OVER IT!
6) Los Angeles has no Culture
First of all, as the primary center of the entertainment industry in the US, the “no culture” argument doesn’t hold water… it’s the epicenter of the majority of this country’s cultural exports in the form of popular entertainment. So is the argument that it’s High Culture? When did we all get so posh?
Los Angeles is pretty well established as a center for visual art, film, architecture, literature… it’s got a lot of everything. And for theatre, it has over 300 professional theaters. If you don’t know where to find the theater, here is a list.
How about LACMA, MOCA, the A+D Museum, the Hammer, Barnsdall, the Fowler (on UCLA’s campus), the Getty Center, the Getty Villa, LACE, MAK Center, REDCAT, Skirball, SPARC, 18th Street, Bergamot, and this list of current gallery showings from Art Forum.
I mean I could go on. But if you think Los Angeles is without culture, you’re just lazy.
GET OVER IT!
7) Los Angeles is a Sprawling Suburb
According to the last census, Los Angeles is the Most Densely Populated Urban Area in the US.
At nearly 2,000 more people per square mile on average than New York, you can’t compare Manhattan to Culver City and call it a day.
Where do you think the traffic comes from? It’s people, commuting, from one place to another. I already pointed out the lack of center to the city, so people move from where they live to where they work, somewhere in the great expanse of Los Angeles, which is actually just much more evenly distributed in terms of density than east coast cities.
What LA is is BIG. It’s massive. It is widely spread out, spilling into neighbouring cities and counties… and there are A LOT of people there too, distributed in hundreds of communities, living in any number of configurations, speaking literally hundreds of languages (the LA Almanac says 224).
GET OVER IT!
8) Los Angeles is here to Entertain You
So you moved to Los Angeles and everywhere you go there are stupid, fake people, eating stupid hippie BS food at “brunch” every hour of the day, who don’t seem to do anything except for talking about their screenplays and or doing a cleanse. They get in their stupid hybrid car and drive to the gym to walk on a treadmill so they look great illiterately begging for skin cancer at the beach….
Source: Every post about how people hate living in LA. and then every comment where someone corroborates this image of LA in their brief time living there.
NEWS FLASH: You’re lazy.
This is akin to saying New Yorkers are rude. New Yorkers aren’t rude, they just don’t want to deal with your BS, so could you kindly get the heck out of their way.
Yeah and Los Angeles isn’t a monkey here to dance for you. Put some effort into it.
Los Angeles rewards exploration. Small cafes, independent book shops and art galleries, awesome music stores, the best movie going experiences in the country, year-round farmers markets, live music for all tastes, a great variety of cultures and foods, an amazing public library system, loads of significant architecture, great parks, plentiful sporting events, amazing street food, the most interesting magic/burlesque scene, arts colonies, urban agriculture, historic sites, experimental theater…
Yeah, and there is Brunch. Brunch is awesome too. But there is also the ruins of nazi come hippie commune along a river with a waterfall you could check out off of Sunset too. You just have to put in some effort.
GET OVER IT!
9) No one is “from” Los Angeles
What about Kaiser, Cedars, LA, Good Samaritan Hospital and a whole lot more hospitals). People are born in all of those facilities. They are in Los Angeles.
There are a lot of us “natives”, but we’re sort of treated like Unicorns. Why? Because a lot of people move to LA. They move to LA and their networks are based on friends of friends… on school and college relationships… on aspiring to being in entertainment… on thinking it would be great to live in LA… on enjoying the sunny weather…. you know, name a thing. But none of these mean you’re going to interact with people from Los Angeles. This holds true for where ever you might move.
Truth is, the people you never meet from Los Angeles are busy living in Los Angeles. You know: working, paying rent, going out with friends, taking out the trash. It’s a place, full of people. People have kids. Kids grow up. They stay or they don’t.
End of Story
GET OVER IT!
Here are some common complaints as a sub-list, a meta-list if you will. It’s an inception list:
1) It all looks the same – That’s right, the 1930s apartment blocks of Korea Town are identical to the 1950s ranch homes of the Valley and the late 19th century Victorian homes of Angeleno Heights.
2) Nobody Walks/Takes Transit – True… if you think that only people with the means to buy and operate a car are people.
3) The air sucks – Yeah, if you insist on driving everywhere, the air is going to suck. Luckily, even with a booming population, the air is continuing to get better.
4) The traffic sucks – Yeah, if you insist on driving everywhere, the traffic is going to suck. Luckily, with the extra sales tax Angelenos voted to impose on themselves, we have lots of ambitious transit projects happening all the time. But it’s hard to keep up with so many people moving here all the time with their cars.
5) Hippie Sh*t – I’m glad you have enough leisure time and disposable income to indulge in the exploration of non-western traditions, organic/vegetable based diets, and other forms of non-normative lifestyle choices that you’re bored.
6) There is no History – Except for the Indigenous populations displaced by hundreds of years of Spanish Colonialism, formerly being part of Mexico, the late 19th century oil boom, and the rise of mass entertainment. But, no we don’t have that many art deco skyscrapers…
7) The bagels and the pizza – Two things. First, you’re wrong and lazy. Second, Tacos. Yeah, the first things was two things, think of the value. But if you primarily value your location based on its access to the cuisine of a primarily European diaspora which immigrated to the US in large numbers in the 19th and early 20th centuries, you shouldn’t move to the clear opposite side of the continent from where they would have entered the population, and which is more heavily populated with those who will have emigrated from Central America, South America and Asia (or were just already here)?
8) It is all about movies and money and dominated by shallow celebrity culture – If you’re primarily interacting with less than 2% of the population of a city (see above).
9) So many broken dreams – You mean failed actors stuck waiting tables? Or do you just mean people who, despite trying and working hard, can’t catch a break and are having a hard time trying to make ends meet? Welcome to the world. LA doesn’t have a corner on this market. Try to meet some folks just trying to give their kids more.
10) It’s dangerous – It’s a city. Crime is pretty low from where it once was. It’s a city. Some people have had life crap on them… it makes unfortunate things happen.
A lot of Los Angeles hate seems to originate from people coming to town and then wanting LA to be like some place else, just with better weather. It’s a unique place with its highs and lows like any gigantic, diverse, complicated city. It’s not like it’s a city under constant threat of chemical warfare from a brutal dictatorship… or the anxiety of daily suicide bombings. There is traffic congestion. It doesn’t snow. These are not unmanageable issues.
And, yeah, I think it smacks of I’ve-got-enough-to-complain-about-anything privilege. It says: I’m so threatened by the dangerous unfamiliar city, that I’m doing to pay too much for rent to remain in s specific safe enclave of people who don’t really engage with the city, which, let’s face, includes a disproportionately high number of people who have moved to Los Angeles to be in the entertainment industry…
GET OVER IT!
10 Things To Get Love!
1) Learn to love the Natural Beauty
No natural beauty? Yeah, Right. With so many hills and mountains, there are so many places in the center and within 30 minute drive to leave the city behind. Sure Franklin, Runyon and Fryman canyons are crowded. Good thing there are HUNDREDS of options.
2) Learn to love the Literature
Los Angeles has a long history with the written word. Faulkner wrote the screenplay for the Big Sleep here. But, not everything written is for the camera. There is a thriving literary community in Los Angeles with plenty of wordsmiths who are not at all interested in a development deal with Disney.
3) Learn to love being a Pedestrian
Los Angeles was designed as a walking city. Where do you think all the staircases came from. Check ing out http://www.secretstairs-la.com/welcome.html.
4) Learn to love Transit
There are a lot of nieghborhoods where being carless is easy. Some, because the density and walkability are desirable, can be more expensive, but without paying for a car, this can actually save.
Because the car based history of LA, there are parts of the city which are hard to reach in a timely fashion from transit. But it’s doable. AND, it’s pretty normal for a lot of the world.
5) Learn to love the Diversity of Food
Here is a good place to start. You can start embracing the ethnic diversity of Los Angeles through the food.
You can also get tours of various neighrborhoods on foot and based on food from companies like Six Taste. It’s worth it. Discover something.
Even better are the fly by night operations are picnic tables all around. Some argue that LA has the best tacos anywhere. I know there are lots of amazing tacos. Give up your bagels and pizza (which can be found anyway) and embrace a real and good taco!
6) Learn to love Personal Space
What the hell is charming about spending your entire day within earshot of another person? I mean if you want that, you can have it in Los Angeles, sure. But what’s nice about a single family house? About being in the car by yourself? You can sing at the top of your lungs and no one cares.
Yeah, I get the appeal of casually running into people. But, this just means you need to put a little effort into it. I’ll take having personal space and needing to seek out social settings over constantly hum of human interaction all the time.
7) Learn to love Urban Argriculture
Goats to mange the landscape on city lands? An explosion of locally grown food?
8) Learn to love Driving
Yes, this is counter to my previous plea to learn to love transit. But, this is different. Driving can be enjoyable. Rent a car and cruise Mulholland, the canyons, or the Pacific Coast Highway…. or any number of scenic roads… and you’ll come to appreciate what can be nice about driving beyond the soul crushing monotony of a daily commute.
9) Learn to love the Movies
Yeah, I know how I’ve stressed the small percentage of people actually in the entertainment industry. But, since the industry is based here, you can take advantage of excellent quality screenings of just about any movie. I’ve never been to another city where I can count on proper focus and sound, or dream of selecting a seat, as one of the simple pleasures of enjoying mass entertainment.
10) Learn to love Not Complaining
This list is a complaint. I know. Don’t think you got me there, I know.
Los Angeles is not like other places. And that’s not to say it’s the unique and singular while other places aren’t. It’s just a fact. Los Angeles is not like other places and other places are not like Los Angeles. Just like I’m not you, and you’re not me.
A New Yorker, or anyone who has established an address in the New York City area for a length of time long enough to receive mail and then profess their love of the Big Apple, is going to find Los Angeles a big change. That goes for most cities that are around the same age or older than New York around the world. If you need a clear central hub of activity to be able to negotiate a city, then sure, Los Angeles isn’t going to work for you. That doesn’t mean it’s awful, it means it is different.
Conversely, someone from Houston might love the density and the drier weather. Someone from Phoenix might love that it’s slightly cooler, near the ocean and not in Arizona. This doesn’t mean that people from Houston or Phoenix are vapid, inane wannabe screenwriters and actors.They could be. They could also just like LA or have a new job in LA or any one of another myriad other reasons why someone would move from one place to another.
Traffic is bad, there is pollution and it’s a massive mess of humanity. But you need to get over that you might not like it. If you really dislike it, you’re welcome to leave. If you’re just whining, you’re welcome to STFU.