Los Angeles, I Love You

[The original love letter to the city of Los Angeles, as seen on the LAist. Original post September 8th, 2011.]


You met her at a bar.
She was a perfect 10.
Actress. Model. Dancer. Whatever.

You’ve seen her in pictures, watched her on TV, and heard about her from friends but you always wondered. And now she is right in front of you, but there’s just one problem, she’s a raging bitch.

She rarely pays attention to you.
She makes you feel insignificant.
She hates your friends.
She hates your apartment.
She hates your car.
She is always looking over your shoulder at someone else.
She four squares everything.
She loves TMZ.

She makes it really hard to love her.

Her name is Los Angeles.

I am part of the rare breed of Native Los Angelenos, yes we do exist.  I grew up in the neighborhood of Atwater Village (you know that strip of land in between Intelligentsia and Glendale). After 27 years of living and growing up in this town I can say I hated it. I was sick of the traffic, $14 martinis, the Ed Hardy, the yogis, the vegans, the valley, everything. So I moved away. I moved to Connecticut for a glimpse of the countryside, the “better life”. I worked there for 2 years, paid super low rent, and spent weekends in New York. But about half way through that endeavor I realized I missed LA.

I missed the culture.
I missed the style.
I missed the 24 hour restaurants.
I missed the music.
I missed living in a place where “limited release” movies were actually released.
I missed the weather.

There was a period during winter in Connecticut when I didn’t see the sun for two weeks. I decided to get in my truck and drive south until I hit sunshine (it took 3 hours). While I met some amazing people in my time in the Northeast I knew it wasn’t for me.

And so I came back to California. I took an almost 40% pay cut to come back to the Angel City because I missed her.

I came back to her culture.
I came back to her fashion.
I came back to her culinary mecca.
I came back to her art.
I came back to her opportunities.

The movie industry films here because its 70 degrees and sunny every day so you can work year round. While other parts of the country have snow, heat waves, and humidity I rarely go a day without sandals on my feet. You can take your tornados and I’ll keep my earthquakes (we don’t even look up from our iphones for less than a 5.0). Each neighborhood has it’s own personality may it be from the hipsters in Silverlake, the key grips in the valley, the plastics in Beverly Hills, La Raza in Boyle heights, or the stoners in Venice. Sure there is the ubiquitous traffic that everyone bitches about but that’s only from people that don’t actually live here. People that live here accept that its part of the package deal and don’t complain about it. It would be like New Yorkers ranting about that weird smell in the subway or all the graffiti. Celebrities that constantly complain in interviews about how everyone here is “so fake” might want to re read their job description and then hang out with a different crowd. There are real people here and I have seen them in these streets that I know so well working as a paramedic. I have rubbed elbows with them at In N’ Out, we have waited for our Grande soy sugar free vanilla lattes together, and I have cheered with them at the upper deck of Laker games. So don’t belittle my city celebrities, a city that has brought you so much.

Most tourists hate this town too but LA is like a fungus, it grows on you. There is no immediate visual pull like San Francisco, or history like Paris, or skyline like New York. There is no real town center like most any other city of the world. Think about it, what do you tell out of towners to do once they get here? I have no idea either. Besides Hollywood blvd. there is no Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, or Wrigley FIeld. When they ask you where to stay you say, “it depends”. When they ask you what to eat, “it depends”. Each neighborhood has a personality as does each cuisine and each person here. While we may not have many marquee attractions, what we do have is a bunch tiny pieces to the mosaic that makes up this great city.

Don’t get me wrong though, as with any relationship you sometimes hate each other. The parking, pretentious hostesses/bouncers, cupcakes, greenpeace volunteers, menus that tell you what’s NOT in your food (no preservatives, gluten-free, no dairy, flourless, etc.). Sure she may nag you, tell you to take out the trash, or ask you if you think these pants make her look fat but this is the place you, me, and that guy next to you in the Prius have chosen to live.

This is where I grew up and this is my town, and if you don’t like it get the fuck out, because traffic here is a bitch.

Los Angeles, I love you.

Eternally Yours,
Chris Backley

[PhotoThe palm tree in Atwater Village, Los Angeles]


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