The fact is, I wish I liked living in Los Angeles, but I just plain don’t right now.
This town (LA) is quite simply for two kinds of people: Either the hustler-type who thoroughly enjoys the cut-throat nature of “playing the game” and acquiring excess while destroying other people’s souls, or idiots with zero brain cells who are perfectly happy to live day to day mooching off others while constantly commuting in LA’s version of the Bermuda Triangle: Starbucks, yoga, and the mall.
Everyone else who falls in the middle, which is most of us, is only living here because we have to in order to do the job we love. No one actually seems to genuinely like it here. We are constantly trying to convince ourselves, and others (especially our friends who still live in NYC) that LA is a fun place to live. Sure, it’s got perks: access to nature, a handful of good-but-not-great museums, juice bars- but at its core Los Angeles doesn’t know who it is. It doesn’t have any specific identity. Which makes it really hard for the humans living in it having the same “I don’t know who I am” crisis. I mean, think about it; you hear “Seattle” and an immediate image pops into your brain of cozy coffee houses and hiking on Mt. Rainier. You hear “Denver” and you suddenly feel like taking in a Broncos game and going skiing with your bros. You hear “Charleston” and you can smell the jasmine and taste the shrimp and grits. But LA? There’s so many different things it’s trying to be that it all just ends up being a big mess.
I recently came across an article in the New Yorker titled “N.Y.C. to L.A. to N.Y.C., Ad Infinitum” and it so perfectly describes this inner crisis of mine of missing all the good things about New York, but knowing that moving back is not the answer. I’ve included the text below; I guess the answer lies in learning to be happy, no matter where you live. Which kinda feels like the secret of life. So, if anyone figures out how to do that, lemme know.
Maybe I’ll challenge myself to do a couple articles on living in LA like a tourist and try to be a bit less bitter that I can’t hop on the Q to 14th and browse the travel writing section of The Strand. Maybe.
by Cirroco Dunlap
When I realized that New York was a cesspit filled with the viscera of broken dreams, I decided that the time had come for me to move to beautiful, sunny Los Angeles.
When I arrived in L.A. and realized that it was creatively dead, had a withered husk for a soul, and considered ombré the height of culture, I took the first plane back to New York.
Of course, my plane landed in a sea of overstressed, overworked rat kings fornicating with cockroaches and three of my exes. So I bought a used Prius and drove cross-country straight to L.A., because in L.A. people go on hikes.
On my first hike in L.A., I had to talk to someone who’d never read Joan Didion and who’d had—get this—plastic surgery. Before he could say “juice cleanse,” I had ridden a fixed-gear bicycle right back to the Big Apple.
My bike wouldn’t fit in my two-inch-wide urine-soaked apartment in Sunset Park, so I found someone to take over my lease and I rode a Segway all the way to Hollywood, eating local fruits and reciting positive affirmations as I rolled merrily along.
At my first party in Los Angeles, I heard the word “agent” more than fifteen thousand times. (I tried to keep a tally, but my fingers started bleeding, so I stopped.) People went on “generals” and never returned. I knew I needed to get back to where the real people were, the people of substance and letters, who understood the Struggle.
So I took the secret subway train that goes from L.A. to New York. It was O.K. until 3:30 P.M., when a gang of youths attacked me, emotionally. Somehow I arrived in one piece, but it was the middle of winter, so I sat alone in my apartment until spring. During that time, my hair fell out and my skin fell off.
I hitchhiked to L.A. at the first opportunity. When I arrived, the people were sun-kissed and the rampant depression was barely noticeable compared with New York. You can hide all manner of mental illness with a solid tan and veneers. I hopped in my car, got on the 405, and headed to the beach. I was stuck in traffic for six years.
By the time I got back to New York, I was very old. I was twenty-seven. I was too old for the constant partying I assumed people did. I was too old to keep pretending I’d read all the articles and listened to all the bands. Pretending to like things was a young person’s game. I just needed a change.
And L.A., city of vapid angels, provided that change. No one cared if I’d read anything or listened to anything, or whether I even had eyes or ears, as long as I didn’t get the part of Surprised Waitress No. 2 over them. Everything was fine until all the yoga made my bones dissolve.
Skinless and boneless, I jiggled back to New York, but everyone kept making me feel so ashamed of being a blob. I threw on my comfiest sweatpants, poured what was left of me into a Vitamix, and shipped myself to L.A.
Halfway between New York and L.A., I imploded. I am so much happier now. ♦