I hate Los Angeles. I am not really sure why, probably because I have hated it for so long that it is easier to continue. My loathing of the place is completely unwarranted since I have never really been there. Sure I have sat through her traffic on my way to San Diego countless times. I have been to Disneyland, a trip to see the Raiders, a few USC parties, a graduation, a blurry few days I think somewhere near Manhattan Beach. Is there such a place? I can’t remember.
LA, for me, has always been a place that is one wrong turn away from a gang assault. One second you are walking down a lane spotted with sorority houses with their manicured lawns and residents, next thing you know you are on the set of Boys in The Hood. One second you are at Six Flags in line for a roller coaster ride, then you are praying you don’t get stabbed in the kidneys by the tattooed family of Mexican gangsters who have obviously been let out of their cages for a few hours to terrorize the park with their menacing appearance.
The rest of my impressions of LA have been created by the E channel and a series of reality TV shows I am too embarrassed to admit I watch. Everything about the city feels fake, shallow, dangerous. I never understood when my best friend Ari decided to go to college there. I chalked it up to youthful stupidity, but when he moved back to LA after a stint in NYC, I was flummoxed.
What could he possibly see in the miles of parking lot traffic jams, urban sprawl, and strip malls? I have always felt that LA has no soul. Never mind that the place is the center of the music and movie businesses, and the former home of Charles Bukowski.
I am here to admit that I no longer hate LA. Not because I took some life-changing trip to the city of angels, but because as an adult, I think it is wise to discredit as many of your youthful ideas as you possibly can. I hated LA because I was young and stupid and never gave it a chance. I am ready to give it a chance.
Countless movies I have seen since I was 19, TV shows like Entourage, Californication and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have helped me get better sense of the place. Having said that, I don’t see myself making a trip to LA anytime soon, but through Ari’s video I was able to get a more down to earth sense of the city. I love how the video rides us through so many different neighborhoods. I think this diversity is what I never understood flying down the 101. One of the aspects I love the most about NYC is that although every block is different from the next in terms of culture, languages and feeling, the entire city feels like a cohesive whole. NYC, all five boroughs of it, is one place. I don’t think LA can be that way. It is too spread out.
I love the way the video exhibits these contrasts. One frame we are behind a Prius on a wide avenue with houses built close to the ground. In the next we are mired in the commercial quicksand that defines America. An aqueduct….and the ocean. The video transforms LA into a slowly meandering river. I am not sure how many miles Ari rode or how long this trip took in its entirety, but I cannot imagine that is was a quick ride.
The ending is the perfect metaphor for LA. It appears to be the end of the road, unless you are willing to take flight and continue. Nicely done Ari. Looking forward to seeing more.