Los Angeles (One Post of Many to Come)

I was going to write a blog about Los Angeles.

Not about the Los Angeles from movies, magazines, or songs. About the everyday Los Angeles and what it feels like to grow up there in a way that you can only appreciate once you’ve left.

Then I realized that I just don’t have the time to give it the energy and attention that blog deserves right now. Rather than continue on my trend of not posting at all, I thought I’d do a little more sharing.

ThoughtCatalog is a collaborative website–or, more accurately, a collection of blogs. I sometimes think that ThoughtCatalog is psychic…it seems to post things that completely mirror the exact things I’ve been thinking about and in a voice much too similar to my own. It’s creepy.

So here are some highlights from ThoughtCatalog that reflect some of my feelings about Los Angeles (I’ve bolded points I find especially poignant):

from “How to Live in Los Angeles” by Ryan O’Connell:

Grow up in Culver City, Brentwood or even Glendale. Know early on that your neighborhood will define you. Move to Los Angeles only if you’re from weird places like Ohio or Oklahoma and quickly discover that people born on the East Coast don’t usually set foot in L.A. In fact, they pretty much despise the city. Everyone’s too sun-fried, too lazy, dazed at the beach, or so they think.

Have a normal upbringing. Get dropped off at gallerias in middle school and house parties in Eagle Rock when you’re in high school. Know someone who knows someone who works in the entertainment industry. When you’re older and in a different city, tell people that “Growing up in L.A., you’re just surrounded by celebrities. It really wasn’t a big deal.”

Go away to college on the East Coast and become friends exclusively with people from L.A. Talk about the city like it’s a nervous tic. “OMG, I miss In-N-Out so much right now! Did you ever go to Il Trem? The one in the valley? Ugh, I just want to lay out in the sun and drive around in my car, you know?” Say these things over and over especially when it’s snowing or a homeless person has just peed on your leg in the subway. These conversations about L.A. are never interesting, but they provide you with a sense of comfort. You feel safer somehow. People from Massachusetts or Rhode Island will overhear and treat you like an alien. You kind of are, but that’s okay. You’re going to move back after college anyway!

Grow up on the Eastside and rarely step foot west of La Brea. Grow up on the Westside and rarely step east of La Brea. Understand that the distinction between the two different sides of L.A. is very important to Los Angelenos, but never fully understand why.

Experience some beautiful moments in Los Angeles. Driving on PCH in the warm wind and smelling the Malibu ocean. Seeing the beautiful spanish architecture of the homes in Hancock Park. Driving late at night through the canyons. These will be times when L.A. will truly feel like “the easy life”, like some weird magical utopia. And in many ways, it is.

Los Angeles can be a dichotomy though. Be surprised to see something natural. Forget that you’re surrounded by beautiful mountains and oceans. Spend a lot of time staring at fake breasts and strip malls.

Notice a glaring contradiction with the healthy lifestyles people claim to live in L.A. These are the ones who spend their days swimming in the ocean, eating their macrobiotic lunch, doing yoga. But at night, they call their coke dealer, rage at a bar and go to an after-hours party. For many people, L.A. is GTC: Gym, tan, coke. “But it’s organic…”

A few quick things: Traffic sucks, the Mexican food does not, there’s great radio stations. People say this a lot; “I love L.A. but I hate L.A.”

Life here is like living in a hazy dreamworld that’s drenched in sun and smog. People wear $200 tracksuits to dinner. They say and do strange things, and love every second of their freakshow lives. Discover that the city doesn’t take itself too seriously. People can dress their dogs in fur-lined outfits, buy a whole new face and it’s fine because they’re in L.A. They pay good money to be able to live here and look absolutely ridiculous. Come to the conclusion that L.A. will never adapt, you will adapt to L.A. Admire the city’s unabashed attitude and think you’re going to stay here for a long time.

From “Overheard in Los Angeles” also by Ryan O’Connell:

A woman is typing on her computer at Intelligentsia, a hipster coffee shop in Silverlake that reminds me of Bedford Avenue. In the three weeks I spent in Los Angeles, I went there almost everyday to work because it attracted the kind of ridiculousness I’m always looking for in that city. This woman was older, maybe in her late thirties, and had tattoos. She was typing slowly on her old MacBook when she stopped to answer a phone call. She talked to whoever this person was on the other end of line about how hard it was for her to get out of bed today but the Prozac she has just been prescribed has really helped her. She actually seemed pleased with herself. She then talked about this boy she had been dating. “I looked him up on IMDB. I’m such a stalker.” She seemed tired and hopeful. I liked her.

A woman is describing the neighborhood of Silverlake to her friend while sitting in a restaurant in Silverlake. “It’s not as gay as like WeHo but it’s Los Angeles so it’s pretty gay everywhere. Silverlake is more diverse and full of artists. Not as gay though.” I never heard her friend respond, which was weird, but she kept on reiterating how Silverlake was “gay but not too gay.” I didn’t like this woman.

A drunk British woman told me that she loved my aura at the Chateau Marmont. I was at the hotel in a professional context so I was initially embarrassed by the interruption. However, the more she tried to grill me for information about myself, the more I felt at ease with the situation. I had to tell myself that this was the reason you go to the Chateau Marmont: to get accosted by aging foreigners with fake breasts who congratulate you on being so real, so salt of the earth. I liked this woman but maybe not for the same reasons she liked me.

So many bits and pieces of conversations about pilots or deals or Paramount studios being a dick or whatever. These conversations follow a script of their own and are usually really boring unless they’re openly talking shit on a celebrity. I hate all of these people.

An eight-year-old boy at Cross Creek in Malibu complaining about his weight to his mother. “I’m 102 but I would like to be 90 again.” This was not a joke. This was so real that it almost made me throw up all over Planet Blue. I liked the boy and I hated his mother. Who do you think is planting these ideas in his head?

These conversations all feed into this stereotype of L.A. being a city full of phonies who are obsessed with the entertainment industry. They’re not a fair representation—L.A. is so much more than that—but I realized while on the plane back home to New York that I perhaps consciously seek out that cliched Los Angeles experience. I don’t want to know about the nuances of the city. I want the super sized version of the city. I want sad delusional people talking about a bigshot movie producer over some iced teas. You can’t really get that anywhere else and since I’m a visitor rather than an actual resident of the city, I guess I’m more interested in just hearing the most quintessential L..A. conversations, stuff you wouldn’t be caught dead talking about anywhere else. This may be why people hate L.A. but it’s why I love it. It’s why I’m missing it so much already while I’m flying over Iowa and dreaming about sprawling backyards, Arnold Palmer’s, and a nice California salad. I want to go back. I’m not finished overhearing things.

 

I’d like to do a nice little wrap up and tie all these ideas together for you. I just don’t have the time, but I promise that I will at some point. I can put together a simultaneous Love Letter/Dear John Letter to my City of Angeles. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed some of the stuff I shared today and I will bring back the wit & snark very, very soon.

Raise your glass! A toast–to La La Land.

I don’t like Los Angeles. The people are awful and terribly shallow, and everybody wants to be famous but nobody wants to play the game. I’m from New York. I will kill to get what I need.
~Lady Gaga 

 

Advertisements

An Explanation

3534516458_48e4e8595fIf you are reading this post, I think it is safe to assume you are either family or a friend. Hypothetically, you should know a fair amount about me and what I am doing out here in DC.

I made that assumption. I thought, these people are my friends and my family. Turns out, not a safe assumption to make–not safe at all.

The night before I left for DC, my parents took me to a farewell dinner. It felt like my Last Supper–though, if I was going to have a last meal Roy’s wouldn’t be too bad. In typical Liane fashion, ever my Father’s Daughter, I spent an inordinate amount of time talking about myself. The waitress came over, smiling and waiting patiently as I blabbered about something I was “feeling” about the impending move. Eventually, I did need to pause to breathe and my mother politely turned to the waitress with pride and said, “She’s moving to DC for grad school tomorrow.” I excused myself to go to the bathroom and upon my return my mother throws this at me:

“The waitress asked what you were studying and I didn’t know what to tell her.”

I looked at my parents in utter disbelief. I started planning for graduate school my third year of college–over two years before that dinner. I’d prepared a binder of all my options. Not just any binder–color-coded, alphabetized, quick reference fact sheets–this was the kind of binder that Type-A, OCD, control freaks dream about. I’d spent more than one Sunday morning drinking coffee and flipping through my options with them. They were there every step of the way, as I narrowed my options. I’d chosen my program months ago and spent the time before I left having to tell every person we met about leaving. My mother could name every single class that my brothers were taking, but she had no idea what Master’s program was moving her one and only daughter across the country.

My eyes turned to my Dad, certain that the self-proclaimed “ultimate boyscout” would remember. Don’t they teach mnemonics in the Boy Scouts? Nope, another blank stare.

Why am I publicly chastising my parents for this action?

(1) To explain why I have an attention-seeking personality

(2) To ease your guilty conscience, since I’m pretty damn sure you don’t remember what I’m studying either

(3) To make them feel guilty before my birthday which is in 13 days!

This is the part where I play psychic and answer all the questions you are about to have:

Well, Liane, what DO you study?
Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University

What the hell does that mean?
The program focuses on the place where politics, media and public affairs intersect. Still confused?

What’s the point of that? Are there even jobs in that?
Absolutely! Media, and social media, is one of the largest growing fields in the country–inside and outside of academia. This kind of degree could open doors in new and traditional media organizations, government, politics and business. So, anywhere really!

What do you learn?
Currently I’m taking classes in Media Theory, Media and Foreign Policy and Research Methods. I will probably talk about some of that more in detail at a later date.

My research interests within this realm of study are still a little fragmented.

Generally, I am curious in how social media will continue to shift the way politicians interact with the public. As someone who witnessed the development of new media “on the frontlines”, I have strong feelings about the value that it has to society. The shift of the dynamics of interpersonal relationships and the construction of individual identity has been staggering, but I think we are still just beginning to see where new media can take us as a society.

In terms of  the “public affairs” side:

  • Politics, primarily Elections –Working on the Hill made me jaded about the amount that people can do once their representatives are actually in office. Elections, in my opinion, are still the most vital part of democracy.
  • Education–The children are our future–and I hate dumb people and I wish there were less of them.
  • Foreign policy–Since our education system sucks, globalization reigns supreme, and I don’t have the time to learn Chinese.

Well, now that you know what I’m studying–I should probably actually go study

A toast, TO BOOKS!

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
~Cicero

Static

I’ve spent the last two days staring at my computer screen. Mostly doing nothing, sometimes refreshing my Facebook homepage. I sit there cursing my friends for not being more interesting as I realize that somewhere out there on the other end of cyberspace they are probably doing the same thing.

It’s a little like that car commercial:

I actually find this commercial to be extremely insightful. What do you think about it?

Ok, now back to staring at the screen and hoping that my Research Memo & Communication Plan Proposal will write themselves..

And now, a toast, “To people whose idea of a social life exists outside of the confines of their computer screen.”

“Little girls think it’s necessary to put all their business on MySpace and Facebook, and I think it’s a shame…I’m all about mystery.”
~Stevie Nicks