It is easy to crap on Los Angeles. A city that has stereotypes by the dozens, a city whose own city-ness is in constant question, a city that often times holds up to those bleach blonde stereotypes (even though let's be honest none of those people are actually FROM Los Angeles). However as a native Angelino, I know it is also a city that is so much more than those stereotypes.
It just took me 28 years to realize it.
I was born at Cedar Sinai, I learned to ride my bike just off Beverly Glen, I had my first kiss on a Los Angeles golf course, I learned to drive on the 405, and then I ran away. I ran as far as I possibly could within the U.S.: NYC.
At NYU, I bemoaned Los Angeles every chance I got. The overbearing conspicuous consumption, the saccharine personalities, the culture-less spread of beach bums and wannabes. No, NYC was where I needed to be. The arts! The fashion! The life! I had whittled L.A. down to its most despicable generalizations.
Then college ended and it was 2008, jobs were nonexistent, and on the other coast my would-be husband and a potential job opportunity awaited.
The entire first month I moved home I cried. I mourned my friends, I mourned the wine-fueled, two-am musings about things as meaningful and nonsensical as the loudness of silence, I mourned the art galleries I would weave in and out of on weekend afternoons, I mourned the city's shared fascination of weirdness, and I deeply resented L.A. for making me leave all that behind.
Fast-forward eight years, and you couldn't pay me to leave this great city.
And last week I was gleefully reminded why.
At the home of Jeanne and Tony Pritzker (which by the by is THE epitome of LA glamour if you've ever seen it) I found myself surrounded by those that love Los Angeles most - supporters of Future of Cities: Leading In L.A. - an initiative looking to catalyze Los Angeles' civically sleepy denizens into impassioned city activists, committed to building a stronger, more vibrant city.
The room was filled with bright faces, cultured souls, and creative minds...and that's not even including the subjects of the museum-worthy paintings that flanked the Pritzker's multi-million dollar walls.
Future of Cities: Leading In L.A. co-founder and the evening's co-host Donna Bojarsky shared LA-centric childhood memories, LACMA director Michael Govan spoke to the rest of the country's flagrant misconception of Los Angeles culture (we have a lot of it in case you were wondering), Los Angeles Magazine EIC Mary Melton posited utilizing L.A.'s gastronomic-themed growth as one of the best ways to get people to explore the city (my personal preferred method of urban discovery), and the list went on.
The more people spoke, the more I was reminded of all the reasons why I love Los Angeles - the space (oh the space!), the anything-goes nature of it all, the afternoons getting lost in any one of L.A.'s great museums, the twelve-a.m. wine-fueled conversations on the beach, the juxtapositions of healthy living and hedonism, and, most of all, the hidden treasures of people you find, but only if you are patient enough to dig.
As the evening came to a close, there was no doubt that Los Angeles has a lot of work to do, but it has - and always had - a foundation for greatness. As Michael Govan said, we are a young city, and we should take immense pleasure in that fact as it means we get to shape it everyday. We - Angelenos new and old - have the unique opportunity to create the city we want and that is a pretty special thing. Some might say making Los Angeles even more special than New York...
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