September 22, 2008

My City – Los Angeles

Posted in Life tagged at 9:20 pm by Lindsay

To most people, L.A. is a joke.  An overly-tanned, smog-filled, traffic-jammed superficial joke.  For me, it’s been the most exciting adventure of my life. 

When I enthusiastically respond to the question “how are you liking L.A.?” I get the feeling that most of the time, people think I’m exaggerating.  That I’m justifying my choice to move here.  That I have to keep convincing myself that I made the right decision.  Really, who loves L.A.? 

I do. 

I’ve had experiences here I couldn’t have had anywhere else.  I got to work as an artist escort on the Grammy red carpet where I literally ran into the biggest names in music (sorry, Tony Bennett).  I listened to Kirk Douglas reminisce about his experiences making the epic Spartacus.  I worked on a studio lot where everyday, I walked by movies and television shows in production.  I’ve watched friends play a show at the Roxy on Sunset.  I’ve gone to tapings of “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and “Deal or No Deal” on a whim.  I watched Kid Rock open a bottle of beer in his mouth backstage at a Kenny Chesney concert.  I’ve listened to the producer of Roman Holiday tell stories about Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, and the Golden Age of Hollywood.  For someone working in the entertainment industry, Los Angeles is it.  

In L.A. I feel like I’m on vacation 11 months out of the year.  It’s not unusual to make a trip to the beach in January.  I can’t remember the last time I wore real shoes instead of flip-flops.  When I wear a scarf, it’s because the air conditioning in my office is too cold.   

I’ve noticed that L.A. gets a bad rap for lack of culture.  What signifies culture? Museums?  Visit the J. Paul Getty Museum and see for yourself the brushstrokes of Van Gogh’s “Irises” and various works by Monet, Manet, and Renoir – for FREE.  Educational institutions?  ULCA and USC (among others) infiltrate the city with their academic pursuits.  History?  The abundance of historic missions give insight into California’s development.  Or go a little farther into the past by perusing Ice Age fossils at the La Brea Tar Pits.   Architecture?  Go admire the many buildings designed by Frank Gehry or Frank Lloyd Wright.   Artistic communities?  North Hollywood is a creative conglomerate of Bohemian locals pursuing acting, art, and writing.  For the performing arts, catch the L.A. Philharmonic at the world-renown Walt Disney Concert Hall, or be part of an act’s live album recording at the Greek Amphitheater in Griffith Park – one of the largest urban parks in the country.     

One of the best things about Los Angeles is that living in the city is about as urban as you can get, but at the same time you don’t have to go far to get away from it all.  There are numerous canyons to hike, state parks to camp in, and trails to bike.  Take a short drive north on the Pacific Coast Highway and suddenly it’s just you and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.   

As glamorous and surreal as some of my experiences have been, I’m also aware of the realities of living in Los Angeles.  It is expensive.  I pay three times in rent what I would at home in Seattle or at school in Nashville.  Gas is consistently 25 to 50 cents more per gallon than most parts of the country.  Traffic is bad, but it’s predictable.

Is L.A. superficial?  If you hang out in Beverly Hills or spend weekend nights in line outside the club du jour then sure, you’ll find people who buy into the L.A. “image”.  But I can honestly say that 95 percent of the people I’ve met here are intelligent, down-to-earth, interesting, and genuinely kind.

I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and the South and have great affection for the other cities I’ve spent time in.  But if you’re looking for adventure, nothing comes close to L.A.