Why Los Angeles?

800px-DowntownLosAngeles.jpg

Why are you here? And I don’t mean in a philosophical way. If you were not born here, why did you come here? If you were born here, why did you stay or what keeps you here? Have you lived other places and just had to move back? Or did you live other places only temporarily and then come back? Are you happy with your decision?

I moved here to go to film school and work in the movies. I grew up in a small town and when thinking about college, I wanted to go as far away from home as I could and considered University of Virginia to study history. I thought if I ended up at a California school it would be a cop out to be so close to home (even though it was still a five hour flight away.) Then I realized I could study film and work in the movies and all that changed and I came to LA and to LMU. It took me a long time (20 years?) and a year away (Seattle) to realize that LA is really for me. Los Angeles was never my first choice for a city to live in, but slowly, slowly, I fell in love.

But what about you? Why are you here? What keeps you here? If you wish you were somewhere else, where would that be and why aren’t you there? If I’m getting too personal, all the more reason for you to share…

Photo by Thomas Pintaric and used with permission under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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33 Replies to “Why Los Angeles?”

  1. I’m not there. Not anymore. Sure, the weather’s great but it doesn’t outweigh the numerous downsides. Where do I begin? It never rains. Yeahs, that can be good, but it also sucks because if you can’t appreciate a real thunderstorm with real measurable amounts of rain, then I’m sorry. Plus, when rain does fall on the land and drains into the ocean it makes the water even more dirtier and unswimmable that it already is. You call Santa Monica a beach? Ha. The water is brown and the sand is as nasty as the bums on the boardwalk. Ever been to Hawaii? Mexico? Florida? The water is blue, like it’s supposed to be. Next downside, traffic. To you, and formerly me, it becomes an attitude. Like, yeah I sit on the 405 for an hour to go 8 miles. If you had half a brain you’d realize you’re wasting gas and more importantly time. That’s all time that could be spent with family, friends, or anything else that doesn’t suck as much as sitting in traffic. I don’t get the whole “I’m proud of my long commute” attitude. So dumb. Speaking of cars, it seems like 1 out of 3 cars is a Mercedes or a BMW. What makes me laugh are the people who are renting a hole in the wall apartment but they’ve got a Porsche in their parking spot. Gimme a break. It’s living beyond your means. Speaking of, house prices. If you can possibly justify spending 1/2 a million on a crap hole house in Reseda, you need a head check. Everything is overpriced and not worth it. Okay, so there is a lot to do, but it takes forever to get there. I found that you contact friends (and family) less because it takes so long to get anywhere. Let’s say your friend lives in Sherman Oaks and you’re in Santa Moncia, though the distance is not great, it’s how you have to get there. It’s not a place you can just drop by and visit people or swing over to their house on your way home. Everything has to be an event. Nobody wants to take you to the airport because getting there sucks. I don’t know, I could go on and on with negatives and I’m not bitter, I know there are positives too – just not enough to keep me invested there.

  2. Why on earth would someone bother reading an LA-centric blog if they didn’t live in LA? And on top of that, posting comments in said LA blog? Someone has way too much time on their hands.

    Anyway, I left LA to go to school – same basic idea as Julia: get far away from home. Also worked out to five or six hours away. I really love the weather in the Monterey and SF bay areas (I lived in Santa Cruz). However, at around 22 years old I made a complete mess of my life up there, came home to So. Cal. to straighten things out, found work I love and have thoroughly entrenched myself here between careers, friends, family and love.

    If I moved away it’d probably either be to the bay area or to Ireland, but since cost of living is actually even worse (believe it or not) in SF and Dublin and my fiancĂ©e and I both have good jobs and most of our families and the people we love here, it doesn’t seem likely we’re going anywhere.

  3. As Joni Mitchell sings in Court and Spark:

    His eyes were the color of the sand
    And the sea
    And the more he talked
    The more he reached me
    But I couldn’t let go of LA
    City of the fallen angels

  4. I came to Los Angeles from the east coast ten years ago (!!!) for what I believed to be a short stint in graduate school. Life kind of unfurled itself during what turned into a really important time in my life, and I ended up staying. Like many, it has taken me a very long time to really appreciate this gritty, ugly and beautiful part of the world, and I have no regrets whatsoever.

  5. My husband and I came here for grad school. As Northern California natives, we thought we’d hate it, but we ended up carving out a pretty great life for ourselves. Sure there are downsides, but that’s true anywhere. The inspiration and opportunities we have found here far outway the problems of living here.

  6. Nice with the Joni Mitchell, Kelly. I know all the words to that entire album and in the last few years have really begun to appreciate all the LA in it.

    And as for the first commenter, I’m glad you are not bitter and glad you found a better place to live for you. I think (as Soobs said) that good and bad can be found anywhere and it’s all about your attitude. I find that even with friends in Silver Lake and Hollywood (I live on the Westside) we drop in if we are nearby. And as for commuting, I’m either F-ing brilliant or F-ing lucky, but the longest commute I ever had was 25 minutes and I hated it, I was never proud of it. (Now I work at home.) And for the record, I drive a 14 year old Acura.

  7. I, like most, came to LA for film school, and stayed for the career opportunities. In total, I’ve only lived here for 6 years and I do still struggle with it.
    I lived in Malibu for 4 years (college) and that place sucked the light from my eyes. Sure the beach is pretty, but the people measure precisely to the most unfortunate LA stereotype someone can conjure up.
    Then I moved to Los Feliz and started riding my bike. It was love at first pedal. Los Feliz gives meaning to my life here. I like exploring new places and working in downtown, but Los Feliz is a lovely bit of respite from the stress i feel in other neighborhoods.

    But then there are days like today, gorgeous, yet heavily weighed by the fact that it was SUPPOSED to rain yesterday and the evidence that it did not can be seen by the HEAVY smog over downtown as I rode my bike to work. Yuck.
    Plus my little sister calls to tell me she is moving to the mountains to work at a ski resort for the winter. That nomad attitude is something that I miss now that I have a great job that requires me to live here in LA.
    Even though I am technically freelance and could pick up and move whenever I like, I know I couldn’t further my editing career in a small mountain town. I think I’d like LA better if I were choosing to live here because of it’s good qualities, as opposed to feeling like I am in this town because this is where I can get work.

    After a “great” movie at the New Beverly last night, exhausted from the importance placed on television and movies… I actually had a dream I left this crazy, single-minded movie town.

  8. This is a question I wish I could ask everybody I met!
    I moved to L.A. from a foreign country less than 10 years ago and it was my first time living in the US. My partner’s job brought us here. My hometown is magnificent, one I’m sure many people would dream of living in. But it’s where all my bitterness is. I’ve had big heartbreaks over there (family and lovers) and was never independent. Initially, I came here runnig away from all these losses (and within an emotional context, too), but as it turns out, running away isn’t the best reason to be anywhere. I do love my hometown, but the latest time I went back I wasn’t able to connect with people I loved – plus everything had changed. If my partnership ends, I don’t know what will hold me in L.A. emotionally, since I don’t have family anywhere near (I’ve a relative I like in the East coast). I do meet a lot of cool people. I made and lost two important and deep friendships.
    Professionally, I still haven’t found a big break (and my concept of big is relatively modest) to justify my stay, but I think and hope that will happen, that way I’ll have more degrees of freedom in making this decision. That has been my purpose anyways.
    Even though my story is primarily one of a “refugee”, I think I couldn’t be luckier, for this is a wonderful city (in a wonderful country, too).
    My personal favorite things in this city are the L.A. Forest and the library. I love Hollywood and Griffith park, Venice and Santa Monica. Zuma beach and the beach at Trancas canyon are fantastic. Being “only” 6 hours away from Hawaii isn’t bad either ;)
    I’m sure that if I ever leave L.A. (and something tells me one day I might), I will miss it terribly and dream of it at night as much as I dream about my hometown.

  9. I came to LA because of a job (non-entertainment-industry). While I’ve loved the job, I’m sorry to say that, after 2 years here, I’m actively looking for a new one so that I can move out of LA. While I’ll miss the mountains and the weather, I’ve really found I can’t get past the soulless social atmosphere and the complete lack of community here. To me, there are just some things that are worse than having to put on a heavy coat for a few months. And I’m not sure there’s any quantity of great sushi that’ll change my mind.

  10. Born in LA. Left for a couple years. I love it because it’s one of the few places where a major culture can’t really take control. Sure it’s American, but it’s just as much Mexican. Not to mention the major Chinese and Japanese financial foundation. It’s a city that refuses definition.

  11. I love this topic and being able to see why people come and go. For me, I was born in Pasadena and never went further than 30 miles from it. I grew up in Arcadia, then went to USC. I hated Arcadia because it was a suburban bubble where no one knew what real life was supposed to be like. I chose USC because it gave me a smaller east coast school feel while allowing me to stay close to family. I had a 4 year old sister at the time that I just couldn’t bring myself to leave. I loved it there, despite it being dirty and the crime that it has in the neighboring areas. It was the school spirit and number of really cool opportunities it gave me that made me love it (I got to take photos on the sidelines at football games. What more could you ask for?!) My family moved to Colorado in my senior year, so I stayed behind to finish. After graduating, I had a wonderful boyfriend and chose to stay here rather than going somewhere else. I have come to absolutely despise LA and everything about it in the past couple years. I hate the traffic and the types of people I come in contact with. It’s dirty, most people are money-obsessed and crazy (had someone jump out of a window in my apartment building at Park La Brea just a couple days ago), and I just don’t feel like I belong here anymore. While I’m attempting to take steps to fix that, it means leaving my boyfriend behind because he’s part of the industry and this is where he belongs. So LA being the only thing I know, it has come time to leave and explore so that hopefully I can one day have a single positive thing to say about the city (other than it having USC!).

  12. So that’s what makes things in Los Angeles suck — all the transplants run away from their crappy lives back home and bring their problems here, yet blame ALL their problems on this City. Greeeeeat.

  13. I was born here (well, in Monterey Park) and grew up in the suburbs in the San Gabriel Valley. My immediate and extended family is here. I chose to go to college nearby because I knew I couldn’t handle being far from home at 18 and I really liked and felt comfortable at UCLA. After graduating, I really wanted to leave, experience another city and all that good stuff, but I stayed in LA to be near my family (tough times at home). When it came time to go to grad school, I really wanted to get out and I applied and got in to those schools, but UCLA was the best program for me in terms of my interest. So, in spite of my desire to leave — albeit temporarily, to experience living a new city — family and school, a function of achieving my professional goals, have kept me here. Well, that and I love the place.

  14. I moved here from San Francisco about a year ago so my honey could go to grad school. I loved SF and hadn’t really planned on leaving, so it’s been a rocky transition. LA is starting to feel a little more like home, though, and even though I haven’t tapped into my groove here I definitely feel like the city holds more possibility than San Francisco did. Painful as change is, it’s nice to shake things up every so often.

    I don’t particularly want to stay here forever but I’m not sure where I would go next. Something tells me that SF just won’t be the same if I go back.

  15. I’ve visited from the Midwest tonz o times.

    Recently, finally moved here for a dream job (non-‘industry’).

    Living in Highland Park and love it so far.

    I’m totally optimistic, which isn’t hard after living in Minnesota all my life. Looking forward to steady-as-she-goes, non-precipitation, boringly warm weather and shallow social circles. I’m a quiet, independent sort of bird, and am looking forward to embracing the unique blend of ugly dirt and odd beauty LA has to offer.

  16. I grew up in Woodland Hills and went away for school (Boston) and lived in NYC for a bit before coming back. Every city has its pros and cons, but L.A. is the place for me.

  17. I came here for a boy. My boyfriend of four years had moved here to follow a dream, and after nearly two years of long-distance hell I moved here. Is 2,200 miles a long way to go for a boy? Maybe. Is it ironic that it is only in the past year that I’ve had serious Hollywood aspirations? Not really – I worked in film in New York twelve years ago and got a little burned out on it.

    I stayed here for the climate. And the boy. We got married and had a baby (the redheaded hellion you met this summer). And we write screenplays, for all the good that does us right now.

    I’ll leave when we can afford to build a house in Pioneer Town. Until then, I am an Angeleno.

  18. I was raised in Argentina. I wish I lived somewhere else to see If I like LA. I still don’t know. I’ve been to Chicago, Boston and NY. I am debating to see if I am a west coast or east coast person. All I know is that I am not a ’12 months of the year summer’ person.

  19. Chances the Militant Angeleno posted his comments via Blackberry while sitting in traffic behind the wheel of a Hummer in between sips of a Pinkberry smoothie on the way to a dog spa? Excellent. :)

  20. Pioneer Town is near Joshua Tree/29 Palms. It was built in the 40s to be a live/work community where Western films and TV shows could be filmed with local crews. It’s still an amazing artist community, and Pappy & Harriet’s is the best damn honky tonk I’ve ever visited (great food, too). I’ve written about it a few times at my personal blog – maybe I should do a post here.

  21. We just left LA after 15 years, and it wasn’t easy to say “see ya later.” We were away for a couple of years a while back thanks to a job — in New York — and couldn’t wait to get back.

    But as our progeny reached school age, we realized public school in LA wasn’t a long term option. We also tired of traffic, the cost of living, and the effort required to get anywhere. We needed a break from LA so we moved to the southeast a month ago and are enjoying the lower cost of living and lower stress… so far 8-)

    But we love LA and will probably be drawn back some day. We miss Trader Joes. We love the color of the light in LA. We love our LA friends. And I love the sense of possibility that shines through newcomers to the city — as it did for me in 1993 when I arrived in my Camry loaded with everything I owned and a stack of screenplay.

    LA was very, very good to us (us wouldn’t have happened without LA), and will always be a part of us no matter what our address is.

  22. I came to LA in ’95 to pursue acting. Then left from 99-2003. When I came back traffic was noticeably worse and housing prices were beginning to go through the roof. Though LA is one of the most diverse and exciting cities I know I’m getting fed up that with traffic I don’t have the time or energy to do the fun things LA has to offer. I consider LA my home even more so than where I grew up in the Midwest…However I’m getting to the point where I think I would be able to enjoy all the things I love about this city more as a visitor rather than a resident.

  23. Yesterday I visited the Observatory in Griffith Park. It was magnificent up there. I struggle with the negatives about Los Angeles and contemplate living in NYC because I like the urban lifestyle. I have grown to hate the burbs…where I have spent most of my life. I do live in a loft building Downtown and have a couple of dogs. Yesterday I really started thinking about the winters in NY. Living in a loft is great but you do have to walk your dogs frequently. What in the hell do people do in NY when it is 20 degrees outside and your dog has to go…Guess I will stay here….the beauty of Griffith Park observatory made me realize how beautiful Los Angeles can be…I lived in Georgia once and grew to hate it the longer I was there. Here, I have grown to love the place and appreciate it as very unique, diverse and interesting place..and there is so much beauty, not like San Francisco, but in its own unique LA way.

  24. I’m actually pretty sick of LA right now, so sick that next week, I’m moving back to New Mexico!
    Seems to me that L.A. is full of nothing but bullshit artists,wannabes, weirdos, minorities, pollution,overpriced rents…man, fuck L.A.! This is a city for faggotts and jews!
    FUCK LOS ANGELES, FUCK THE JEWS THAT RUN THE ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS, FUCK ALL THE LIARS, AND MOST IMPORTANT…FUCK YOU!!!

  25. Way to show your true colors, dipshit! And in such a timely fashion too.

    Good riddance to you, and thanks for the parking space!

  26. Yup,thanks for showing your true colors so we really can say good riddance. BTW….isn’t NM full minorities too?

  27. You would have thought a filter would have caught those comments by Spike.

    Anyways I am in LA because of all of the reasons that Spike is leaving. I love the various ethnicities, I love Jewish culture if it weren’t for Jewish people and Southerners, American literature would be filled with self-help books and people trying to work out psychological issues in a very unentertaining fashion.

    I love the new arrivals, I even love the old school pissed off people, and the rent for a big city is pretty reasonable. I love East LA, the real Eastside, the fake eastside, the San Gabriel Valley (people always forget about the SGV, that’s the raddest place in suburbia) I love South Central: Leimert Park, Watts, Baldwin Hills, the South Bay, Orange County (Costa Mesa and Newport Beach) I even like the Westside. Wouldn’t live there, but the Westside is a great place to vacation and to impress relatives from cities way out in the boonies.

    If you want to make sure your Auntie from Lagos sees a movie star, you go to the Westside. That’s a mightly long flight to come to LA and not see someone famous.

    You know in regards to rent the 818 is always an option if things go horribly wrong and even from there the fun part of LA is only a couple of stops on the orange line or red line or a few exits via the freeways…and even the valley can be fun.

    The Cobalt, Scotland Yard, Caseys, the po#n industry, yeah even the valley is fun if you have some imagination.

    I had a friend who lived in Van Nuys in a house done up like a 1970s p##n film, that was pretty cool.

    Also I don’t know if a Nigerian/Honduran/Canadian could just pick up and move to New Mexico or Iowa or Idaho or even Maine without people staring at them all of the time.

    I went to Texas once and people kept asking to touch my hair as if I was an alien or something, so I don’t think I have much choice but to stay in LA.

    I liked New Orleans, but there are no jobs. New Orleans got alot of bad press owing to Katrina, but it really was a lovely place. It has some lovely aspects to it.

    San Fran too Gap commercial and I seriously have a strong urge to punch UC Berkeley people, don’t want to go to jail, so not going there. I guess I could go to Oakland, but my boyfriend might not fit in there…

    New York, too expensive, also I’m not street smart or sophisticated enough to hang there. I’m outgunned on every front, if I made a lot of money New York would definitely be an option, but not for what I’m doing right now.

    Chicago why would I want to live in a place that cold if it’s not New York?

    LA that’s pretty much the only place I’m allowed to live in within the USA.

    But I also love LA very much.

    Good thing for that.

    Browne

  28. I was born in Portland, OR, and just moved to Los Angeles earlier this year. I had lived in LA in 2001, before 9/11, and up through early 2002. I left because I hated the college I went to (LMU, actually, ha-ha, it was full of really stuck-up snobby kids and way too much like high school; bad film school, too, can’t see anyone around from LMU working in high positions that I’ve ever seen). I came back down here to go to L.A. Film School and it was much worse than LMU, so I quit with a friend and started a production company. Screw film school.

    I love Los Angeles, though, I think I’ve defended L.A. more adamantly than most people who live here while I’ve been back up in Portland. I hate that crappy weather and miserable atmosphere where 8-9 months of the year the weather just blows. I don’t like rain and I’d die a happy man if I never saw it again. Ever. The only bad part about L.A. is the traffic and there is traffic everywhere worthwhile, anyway, it’s not much worse here than anywhere else. Seattle is actually the worst traffic in the U.S., NOT Los Angeles. I just don’t get on the road at 4-7 p.m. or 8-10 a.m.

    People always seem to complain about the people in Los Angeles, but I don’t see it. They’re no different anywhere else. There are good people down here, regular, friendly people who like to talk to strangers and are just nice people. There are also pretentious a-holes, but whatever, they are everywhere. Not just here. I don’t like crappy little small towns, so please, if you don’t like L.A., get the hell out and go live in some crappy little shanty town. I need BIG cities where we get the movies before everyone else, we have the best bars and clubs, we have the hottest girls, and we have the most money, the most luxury cars, etc. Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world. I Love L.A.!

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