I drove up to San Francisco a few weekends ago for a wedding, listening to the Dodgers playoff game in the car. I was in fan mode in a Dodgers hat so I didn’t even think twice to take it off while wandering the city. This turned out to be a mistake. On a Friday night, no less then five people commented on my hat or made snide remarks about Los Angeles. I might have understood it a bit more in a working class city pride 'hood, but this was out amongst the hipstered masses pub crawling the Mission. I remember living in SF in the 1990s and hating on Los Angeles also, I just didn’t know they were still doing it.
My friend and I were talking about this at the wedding the next day, comparing “from LA” stories when some guy listening drunkenly interrupted with “..but for being from LA, you two are pretty cool..” Of course we started laughing. I know it was supposed to be a compliment, but when your stereotypical opinion is so low, even a reaching compliment feels like a diss. A reminder of just how low their starting point for the opinion really is. Anyone who has lived in Los Angeles long enough knows the feeling.
This feeling often arrives in the form of weekend visitors who can be tedious in a way that is distinctly unique to our city. Something about traveling to Los Angeles tends to bring out a certain enamored disdain that is absolutely city specific. As a host you can usually handle it for a night or two, but by day three you’re dropping guests off at the Viper Room with your home address and a cab service written on a piece of paper. It sometimes feels like they just came to LA to condescend on it while at the same time working harder then anyone you know to get some celeb time. (Most likely so they can go home and tell their friends how lame the celebs really are.) A true haters holiday and one that they love to take. That Sunday night flight to Seattle returning them from whence they came can feel a million years away.
I grew up in New York, moved to Colorado for school, finished in San Francisco and first-jobbed post college in Seattle. I move to Los Angeles 10 years ago and like a wife after a series of relationships, it is the one the stole my heart. My Los Angeles has nothing to do with the botox playground of shallow bluetooth-headset-clad knobs. Of course it is sometimes fun to joke about this element, but a weird aside is all that is in my Los Angeles. What people often fail to realize is that Los Angeles isn’t in your face like tighter cities so everything is an effort. If you don’t like the Beverly Center, skip it... forever. Don’t make the effort. You won’t miss it and it definitely won’t miss you. The same applies to everything, like a real life choose your own adventure book. If you don’t like where the story is going, flip back to the last choice and make the other one.
The right choices include great friends and great people. Oceans to surf in and mountains to bike. It’s drunken taco trucks adventures at 2 a.m. and hungover ones at 2 p.m. The city that everyone loves to hate also happens to also be a city that loves to be loved, and loves you back like a three movie cuddle-fest with a rad person. Even on a bad day, Los Angeles will smack you down in a painfully beautiful way, reminiscent of listening to The Smiths for a week straight after being dumped. That’s only a piece of the Los Angeles I still have a gushing crush on but I'll save a little something for later. if you're visiting, know that we could care less how shallow or materialistic you think our charming 'burb is because that's not what we see. It'd be like going to New York and obsessing over bankers, or SF with its vanilla yuppies. Every city has its blemishes, so if you're completely focused on ours, you’re not only missing the point... you’re missing Los Angeles. Besides, we have the best nigth clubs in America...
Follow Steven Nereo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/single_ape