The one year anniversary in the City of Angels is upon me, and it’s been, well, interesting I think sums it up. There’s something about Los Angeles that is magnetic and charming. The ocean and palm trees make the city a tropical paradise of scenescapes the likes of which are Instagram gold. Having moved here in August of 2012 without much prior knowledge of the city and only relying on friends to tell me what was what, I came to a personal understanding of some parts of LA and how it operates. Below are my findings, none of which are meant as a slam to this city, but more curious observations that make this place great.
LA is not expensive.
You can disagree with me on this one as much as you’d like, but the fact of the matter is, Los Angeles is nowhere near as expensive as you might think it is. For what you get here, in terms of external environment and access to all types of landscapes, rent is pretty affordable. Some might think that $1400 for a 700 sq/ft apartment is ludicrous, but you’d be wrong when you take into account that both hiking in the mountains and swimming as the beach are perhaps equidistant from one another. Bars and restaurants can be pricey. Just like in any city. The good think about LA is the multitude of affordable options. And it’s not just taco trucks. There are actual good restaurants that don’t suck, and you wouldn’t be embarrassed to take a date or your friends to. Don’t let the glitz and glamour of Hollywood fool you. LA can be enjoyed even on a small budget. Just gotta know how to play your cards. And check this out. Busses are (for the most part) $1, regardless of if it’s a local or express. And they run quite often. I’ve been able to survive here without a car for the most part for a year. And speaking of cars…
You will get hit by a car (if you’re walking or skating or riding your bike).
This is a fact. And it’s really not a big deal as much as it is a minor inconvenience. Angelenos have this adorable (read: awful) tendency to pull all the way into the crosswalk when pulling from a side street onto a main street. This means, they go well past the stop sign and stick the noses of their vehicles basically into the right lane of the main road. This is a particularly crappy situation when you are maybe skateboarding down the sidewalk and come to a somewhat blind intersection. While you have the right of way and would expect a car to not just pop out and you go flying over the hood, it happens. And it happens often. Don’t worry though. Los Angeles breeds people to be somewhat angry with each other for a split-second, then forget all about it just as quickly. Now I will say that I have had friends on bikes suffer some pretty bad accidents. This is caused usually by bike lane encroachment and an overall lack of awareness from a driver. All I am saying is be careful. Chances are, that if you’re a pedestrian in Los Angeles, you run a high risk of taking a bumper or hood to the leg at 3-5mph. Further, this is not a car vs bike / pedestrian rant. It’s just what happens.
If you live on the Westside, you will not go to the Eastside. But if you live on the Eastside, you might come to the Westside.
One interesting thing I’ve found is the travel in this city does not seem to be reciprocal. Now, I am totally open to hearing different thoughts on this matter, but I’ve seen more kids coming from the eastside to check out the beach, Venice, Santa Monica, Marina Del Ray, Malibu, etc, than I have seen westside kids hit up Silver Lake, Echo Park, DTLA, Montecito Heights, etc. It’s like there’s this aspirational thing the eastside strives to achieve when coming west, or perhaps it’s obligation. I mean, after all, you live in LA. Might as well see the beach once or twice a Summer, right? I live smack dab in the center of LA. I can just as easily eat dinner at Mohawk Bend as I can at True Food Kitchen, so my outlook might be skewed. But from what I’ve heard from westsiders and eastsiders alike, I have come to this conclusion. And this leads me to my next point…
It’s possible to go months without seeing the beach.
I didn’t move to Los Angeles to not see the shore. I would go crazy if I didn’t get to the beach to put my feet in the sand and wade out into the shallows at least once a month. And I try to go way more than that. But one thing you realize is that, if you live east, the ocean is kind of not really anything but a weekend trip here and there. Why? Well, lots of people drive, and the weekends f*cking suck with beach traffic, so what’s the point of cramming yourself into a car with your buddies and all your beach gear just to sit on one of the many routes into the beaches just to find it overcrowded and nothing like how you pictured? I don’t see much incentive, and an air conditioned apartment sounds much, much better. But here’s a pro-tip: If you are on the eastside and do want to get to the Pacific, leave early. Beach days that begin before 10Am are much more enjoyable and less traffic-riddled. If you’re on the eastern side of the city, I would really love to hear why you don’t make it to the beach but live in LA. I’m not being condescending. I’m just curious.
Los Angeles doesn’t suck.
When my girlfriend and I first discussed leaving Denver for California, I said, “Anywhere… but LA. I hate that place.” Well, I’m just an asshole apparently, because LA is actually a really, really rad place to call home. I could quote Best Coast here, but I’ll refrain at risk of sounding too much like a tourist. Los Angeles has the ocean. That was the initial draw. And it has miles and miles of expansive ocean front adventure landscapes just waiting to be explored. (unlike….). But then you have the arts and culture. Silver Lake and Echo Park make me happy to live in a creative and ever progressing city, despite your opinions on it. Having Little Ethiopia down the street from my house transports me to another world every time I take my dog for a walk. That spot on Sawtelle, north of Olympic… Little Osaka? Rad. Koreatown, the Pinata District, shit, even Hollywood and Highland, as repulsive as that spot is, all add to the sprawling fabric of this huge suburb. Not to mention we have Umami Burger. And dammit do I love me some Umami Burger.
What it all boils down to is somewhat of a love letter with a few twists to a city I now call home. Los Angeles, you have your ups and downs, bumps and bruises, golden sunshine and socked in mornings. But all in all, I love you, and thanks for welcoming me.
So here’s to year-round backyard BBQ’s, rooftop pools in February, movies in the cemetery, train expansions, vintage cars, abandoned Nazi communities, and the uninformed disdain of a nation. Oh, and telling Ben Gibbard he’s wrong. Cheers.
I still can’t root Dodgers,