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 

 

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