When the subject of Los Angeles comes up in conversation, I’m quick to enthuse openly about the city, and often just as quick to have that enthusiasm treated like a bizarre paraphilia. When I say I love LA, brows are furrowed and noses are wrinkled, as if I’d said, perhaps, that I love anal bleaching.
It’s understandable. Los Angeles has a terrible rap, and it mostly deserves it. Crime, while not as rampant as it once was, is still pretty rampant. Poisonous smog continues to give asthma to LA school kids and cancer to senior citizens (and improbably beautiful sunsets to the rest of us). And when it comes to public transportation, it is almost undeniably the worst metropolis in the world.
To many, it’s hard to see past these flaws. And they are great flaws; I don’t mean to deny or dismiss them. But then what are our criteria for enjoying ourselves and living well in an urban environment? My checklist, like many others’, might begin something like this:
☐ good public transport
☐ air that won’t hurt me or turn the sky beige
☐ probably won’t get mugged
Los Angeles doesn’t fare well so far. But my list would go on:
☑ hot, dry, sunny weather pretty much every day
☑ taco trucks
☑ lots and lots of good ramen
☑ well-stocked, affordable Japanese supermarkets
☑ great cinemas
☑ Zankou Chicken
☑ amazing burgers
☑ mountains and beaches
☑ good music scene… if you like ska, J-pop, jazz, and punk
☑ friendly, creative people (i.e., all my friends are there)
☑ not one, but two Little Tokyos
☑ Pliny the Elder on draft for like $6
My reasons for loving LA are personal and specific, and I don’t expect many people to share them. But I want people to understand that LA isn’t quite the cesspit of urban decay and cultural ruin that it’s often made out to be – it’s a place that’s very dear to me, and that’s not because I’m deluded by nostalgia, or simply masochistic. It’s because its full of things and people that I love. My next few posts will be about them.