2017-03-21

When I tell my friends from college that I moved to Los Angeles, most of them ask why in the world I choose to stay in L.A.

Coming off the East coast, an attraction to Los Angeles is not only unfashionable but also misunderstood. I've tried to touch on it before, and here I'll crowdsource some help.

It is difficult to capture the Los Angeles ethos in a photograph without falling to tropes or banality. Another strip mall? The mountains with palm trees in the foreground? The phenomenology of Los Angeles is woven from threads of of experience, rather than a patchwork of moments. It is the opposite of photogenic.

In my eyes, New York City is an amazing city to visit. Take the subway, eat a bagel, go to a museum, see a friend (or five). But it can suck to live in New York between the demanding social scene and fewer and fewer square feet per person. Conversely, Los Angeles is lovely to live in—regular sunshine, diverse topography, cheap food—but it sucks to visit. Half of your visit will be spent on the freeway, going between urban cores. It's tough for a visit to have any cohesion; the moments are banal.

L.A. Plays Itself, or, similarly, you play L.A. the way you want it. Geoff Manaugh captures some of this in his post Greater Los Angeles:

No matter what you do in L.A., your behavior is appropriate for the city. Los Angeles has no assumed correct mode of use. You can have fake breasts and drive a Ford Mustang – or you can grow a beard, weigh 300 pounds, and read Christian science fiction novels. Either way, you’re fine: that’s just how it works.

Los Angeles, the Improbably Sustainable City, makes no sense. I always felt like in the East Coast cities I know, the temperament of the city informs the stage on which you act. L.A. doesn't so much assert its own personality as much as it wears it with a wink while sitting in the seat next to you as you both watch the slow-motion apocalypse of Southern California.


K-Hole Description of L.A. K-Hole's Capture of the Paradox of L.A.

A lot of people think L.A. is just eyesore after eyesore. Full of mini-malls, palm trees, and billboards. So what?

So says Ice Cube in this short on L.A. and the Eames. He's right—so what?

"One man's eyesore is another man's paradise."

The individualism of the defining characters of Los Angeles—the creation of one's own paradise—cannot last. The ability for the city to act as a partner in finding one's own, glinting in the sunlight, might persist.



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