Last week, a friend of mine from New York was visiting LA for work, and perhaps inevitably our dinner conversation turned to that old saw: LA vs. NY. Know that we weren’t trying to establish the superiority or dominance of one megalopolis over the other, just come to some sense of understanding. Annette, my New Yorker friend, had just come from a yoga class and was a bit culture-shocked–first there was the fact that the entire class sat on the floor in their fine yoga togs texting on their mobile devices while waiting for the instructor. Then there was the intensity of the class, the fervor with which the students yoga-ed themselves into bendy, sweaty shapes, coupled with the high anorexia quotient. “The women in the dressing room,” Annette remarked, “Had those hollows in their pelvises that you see on malnourished people and POWs.”
“Welcome to my town,” I said. “The key to loving LA,” I said, “Is to not want it to be New York or San Francisco or Paris.”
Sure, I have lots of friends and fellow-bloggers who are avid cyclists and vegans and activists, who live simply so that others may simply live, who drive Prii, make their own clothes, and compost their melon rinds.
That said, I believe the heart of LA is cold, and the key to living here happily is to give up on the whole notion of a future, sustainable or not. Never mind Tierra del Fuego, this is the party at the end of the world. LA is truly the most decadent US city I know. We have Vegas beat by a long yard because we pretend to be something more than an amusement park.
Lean into the apocalypse, LA urges us. Buy uncomfortable shoes made from rare creatures! Pierce what you can pierce and tattoo the rest! Eat foie gras! Never mind the drought, transform your little plot of desert into a thirsty rainforest! Buy a Hummer! Eat hot dogs! Lots of them!
LA is meant for people who have stopped trying to believe that things can be different and that we can be saved.
“To fill the hour, — that is happiness; to fill the hour, and leave no crevice for a repentance or an approval. We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them.” So says Emerson (in a darker moment).