Sunday, 27 October 2013

More Notes from LA

So, I'm writing this from the perspective of those planning a long terms stay as I don't think LA is a great holiday destination. After a few days you'll be bored BUT California is a beautiful place and if you combine it with a visit to some other amazing destinations not too far away (Vegas, San Diego, Mexico even!) then it becomes a more viable place to visit.

If you've never been to LA or only visited the east coast of America, you will be in for a culture shock. For example, New York is a busy cosmopolitan city with a rich cultural life. In one week I saw Bobby McFerrin and Paul Simon perform live at the Lincoln Center, I caught Chris Rock, Louis CK and Robin Williams at the Comedy Cellar, saw an awesome gospel choir at the Abyssinian Baptist church in Harlem and ate at a world famous soul food kitchen. 

LA is a bit of a mono-cultured by comparison. The immigrant communities have carved out their own pockets within the city but those areas don't feel as accessible in the way, for example, New York's China Town or Little Italy do. 

The one thing that struck me after just a few days in LA was the disproportionately high number of Hispanic people in poorly paid employment. Valet attendants, cleaners, gardeners, delivery guys - all Hispanic. To me, this seems to have created an implicit social agreement that in someway, these people are lesser. Of course people of Latin American extraction are also present in all areas of life but the overwhelming numbers in these blue collar jobs was a shock.

These people are essentially keeping this city running but far from being grateful, sometimes people treat them like second class citizens, or worse like invisible machines. 

Thank God there are Brits here. Our desperation to be nice and polite to everyone means these men and women get treated well at least some of the time. I don't think it's that Angelenos willfully treat them badly, I guess it's been the status quo for so long, they no longer see it. 

I've finally moved into my apartment and having been all over looking at accommodation. Unlike the UK, you don't really see any terraced housing here. There are bungalows and semi-detatched homes where each one is completely different from any others on the street. Presumably this hails back to when LA was first developed and people bought a plot of land and got an architect, or a mate with some crayons and a ruler, to design them a pretty house. 

You get small low rise apartment blocks of anything from 2 - 100 (ish) units, then you get actual tower blocks, then you get the detached homes which go up in size until you reach the LA mansion up in the hills type beasts.

Last year I found myself in the home of a mid-table agent. She lived in a gated community with perfectly manicured lawns. The swimming pool at the back of her home looked out over West Hollywood and beyond. She had a screening room and a majestic, sweeping staircase... And she was mid-table. It's true what those prospectors used to say, there's gold in them there hills.

LA has the biggest diversity of building styles. Higeldy pigeldy should be an American word based on the architecture of this city but, having said all that, some how it works. 

The main places 'industry' people tend to gravitate to are West Hollywood - where also, most of the tourist hotspots are, Studio City - where, guess what, most of the studios are such as Warner Brothers, Buena Vista and Universal, Culver City where the agents are and Santa Monica - where the Brits are (no surprise, the coast comes closer to having seasons, is generally cooler - temperature-wise,  and feels more like a city with a centre)

I'm in the eastern edge of West Hollywood which is not hip at all but West Hollywood is where you'd hope, well possibly even expect to see the odd celebrity doing their grocery shopping in Wholefoods Market or stagger out of Chateau Marmot (posh celeby hotel, restaurant and bar).

I reckon LA is probably a cool city to hang out for a few years but I wouldn't live so centrally indefinitely. Like I say, I'd rather head for the hills or drop down to the coast. Let's see which one it turns out to be. 


  1. ...and the party?

    Maybe we'll have to wait.

    All the best,
    Peter C

  2. I'd say San Francisco and San Diego are much nicer cities to live in long term


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