California Dreams: Why I Love L.A.
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
I’ve lived, visited and enjoyed many of the world’s great cities like New York, Paris, London, Hong Kong and Mexico City. And while each urban center has its charms, I keep returning to Los Angeles where a job move dropped me in the distant past. You’re about to find out why this is the greatest city on Earth. But don’t think this is a pollyana celebration of a fantasy. An Angeleno’s relationship with his abode is complicated. You can read about the flip side in California Nightmares: Why I Hate L.A.
The weather is irrelevant when you plan for and go through your day. In places like Seattle, when the weatherman predicts 20 percent chance of rain, it rains. In L.A., 40 percent chance of rain means the sun will be out. T-shirt and shorts are the standard uniform for outdoor activities even in the middle of winter. You can drag your recycling bin to the curb or pick up letters from your communal mailbox in your bare feet. And the only snow you’ll encounter is in the malls and theme parks for holiday displays.
Venice Beach Hot Bodies
The guys may be hunky in Rio and the girls tres chic in Paris but the reflections in our magic mirrors are the fairest ones of all. Surrounded by the icons of movies, TV, fashion and other entertainment, we define good looks and tell the entire world exactly what that is. Because we can’t hide a bulging paunch or cottage-cheese legs under layers of winter clothing, we eat right, work out and sometimes surgically remove our imperfections until we meet our own high standards. And whether your tastes run to dark chocolate or creamy milk, you’ll find your favorite mix of race and nationality within city limits.
The way we need to connect with people is perhaps the first thing visitors notice about Angelenos. We say “hi,” ask about the weather, tell you our opinion and hope you have a nice day, even if we don’t know you from Adam. The cynics may detect the desire for a bigger tip behind the smile of a waitress. But how then to explain the executive who helps you find your way because you’ve got a map, the grandma who talks to you about your baby while you’re in line, or the teen who shows you a cute kitten on her smartphone? You’re not alone for long in the City of Angels.
30 L.A. Cuisines
Argentinian, Basque, Cajun, California Fusion, Crepe, Cuban, Egyptian, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Hawaiian, Indian Vegetarian, Israeli, Japanese, Mexican Yucatan, Mexican, Moroccan, Persian, Peruvian, Salvadorean, Sicilian, Tuscan, Ukrainian, Vegetarian, Vietnamese and Waffle.
In many states of the union, you’d be hard-pressed to find an African shop. Here, we have entire neighborhoods devoted to Ethiopia only. Want to dance to some Latin music? Then specify whether it’s salsa, rumba, cha-cha, Tejano or Reggaeton, or you’ll be in the wrong club. And tourists can come for a month and dine on a different type of cuisine every day. Check out the list of my 30 favorites on the right.
Our cultural diversity directly feeds into my favorite quality of L.A. Originality is a requirement. We shun the conventional as boring, and thrive on the bold, the unusual and the one-of-a-kind. Think about all the ideas that have come from our area to influence the country and the world, though not always for the better: movies, drive-in restaurants, Thai BBQ pizza, sentences that end with a rising tone, property tax revolts and theme parks. Because the region is an entertainment capital, we spread this influence through movies, TV programs, magazines, games, websites and music. So, much of L.A.’s culture has become the world’s popular culture.