Issue #113 – “Manifest Destiny’s Child” – July 30th, 2007

-One of the oldest running jokes in Los Angeles is that no one is actually born here, they’ve just moved here from someplace else.   That’s why at parties, when asked how long they’ve lived in LA, people will often tell you their exact anniversary – like they’re an alcoholic telling you how long they’ve been sober.  For instance, having left New York on July 31st, 2005, tomorrow marks two years since I arrived in California.  The second-oldest running joke in LA is that people come out here only intending to stay temporarily, and then never leave.  Considering my original lease was a five-month sublet, I can’t argue with that one either.  Having long since resigned to the fact that my foreseeable future will be spent on the West Coast, I’ve tried my best to adapt.  Like our forefathers, who believed that America was destined to reach the Pacific Ocean, I too have come here to follow my dreams.  Though of course, back then, no one could have imagined that Manifest Destiny would eventually spawn the whacked-out freak show known as Los Angeles that I call home today.

-Whenever a celebrity enters a bar in LA, the paparazzi set up camp outside.  Then, when you walk out of the bar wasted at 2am, they’ll look you up and down to figure out if you’re famous or not, before letting you pass.  They might even snap a picture or two just in case.  If you really want to fuck with them, you can walk out with your hands covering your face, which makes them take pictures like crazy.  And there’s nothing like seeing a photographer’s disappointment when he realizes you’re merely just a regular, upstanding, underwear-wearing citizen.

-Before I moved here, I checked to get an idea of what the weather would be like.  I didn’t know what any of the local zip codes were, so I simply entered 90210.  Only later did I feel stupid.  Not because my knowledge of LA was limited to a cheesy ‘90s television show, but because it turns out the weather here never varies more than five degrees.

-The most striking difference between New York and LA is that New York is so much more egalitarian.  Everyone takes public transportation in New York.  In LA, there’s a bus and subway system that half the people (myself included) have never used.  Merely waiting at a bus stop in LA reveals much about your socioeconomic status.   I hate that.  New Yorkers never really know exactly how much one another makes, but rather assume it based on preconceived notions and rash judgment – you know, like normal people.

-You know those absurdly hot chicks that walk around in every scene of Entourage?  It’s not too much of a stretch.  I’ve been in fairly low-key bars in LA and still had trouble keeping track of how many “tens” were in the room.  I’m not saying I hook up with them, or even talk to them, but I’m strangely comforted by the fact that at least someone is.

-By far the most frequently asked question I get from friends and fans is: “How is LA?”  But the emphasis is always on the word “is” – “How IS LA?” – as if I moved to Mars.  No one asks, “How IS Chicago?” or “How IS Boston?”  Why are we subjected to such scrutiny?  I think it’s because people are fascinated by Hollywood.  But in truth, the city of Hollywood is only a small segment of Los Angeles (and, ironically, one of the seedier parts at that).  Most people in LA don’t even work in the entertainment industry.  Of course, I don’t know any of those people, but I’m sure it’s true.  That’s why, from now on, when people ask me, “How IS LA?”, instead of racking my brain for an appropriate response, I’ll merely tell the them truth: 85 degrees and sunny.  Every fucking day.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-It still bugs me out that there are a lot of “open-air” buildings in LA.  Like if you walk out of the elevator in my apartment building, you end up outside.  And my hallway has no door or anything; it just leads to a courtyard where there’s a gourmet pool and Jacuzzi.  Pool-worthy days a year in LA?  300.  Times I’ve actually swam?  One.  Seeing hot chicks sunbathing on my way to the mailbox?  Priceless.

-LA is dominated by graduates from colleges that feed the entertainment industry, namely Harvard, Syracuse, Northwestern, USC, and UCLA.  This is a marked difference from New York, which I found to be filled with alums from Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Cornell, and Penn.  Luckily, however, we’re all brought together by the common language of Flip Cup.

-Despite the unapproachable but Entourage-worthy chicks that abound, one area that LA is severely lacking in is nightlife.  Sure there are cool bars, but there’s much fewer of them, they’re much farther away from each other, and they’re much harder to get into than any other city I’ve partied in.  Plus they’re either dives or really upscale – there’s nothing in between.  Getting laid is supposed to be hard work; getting drunk is not.

-People tell me all the time that they love LA because the “quality of life” is better than on the East Coast.  But how is having to get in your car to go to the ATM better?  How is waiting 90 minutes for your food to be delivered better?  How is spending half your day searching for parking better?  To me, quality of life means instant gratification and not having to deal with people who use the word “stoked.”

-In New York, if you run into someone in the street who you don’t want to talk to, all you have to do is say that you’re hurrying back to your apartment to use the bathroom.  In LA, if someone calls who you don’t want to talk to, all you have to do is say that you’re gonna lose them because you’re about to drive into an underground parking structure.

-And, finally, a cursory glance at my life would seem to reveal that I’m not only living in the state of California, but a state of denial as well.  After all, I still have a New York State driver’s license, still subscribe to New York Magazine, still have a New York cell phone number, and still see my dentist in New York every six months.  I have a clock set to New York time in my home office, the only Lakers games I’ve ever been to have been against the Knicks, and despite my open-air apartment building and pool, I’m still pale as fuck.  But despite all that, my current career path in comedy necessitates that I live in Los Angeles, and I’ve been doing my best to integrate.  I’ve made some great new friends out here and reconnected with old ones.  I’ve learned my way around the city pretty well (thank you, Google Maps!).  I have a doctor and a broker here, bought a pair of Chuck Taylors, and even have a landline with a local area code.  And, OK, I’ll admit, I occasionally say “stoked.”  I guess I just eventually realized that living in Los Angeles doesn’t change the fact that I’m originally from New York, and never will.  So, I’m not there yet, but hopefully one day I’ll learn to love LA.  After all, when the paparazzi mistake me for someone else and snap my picture – there’s no reason I shouldn’t be smiling.  Fuck me.