Life in Los Angeles
Born and raised in Los Angeles I took many things for granted. Particularly what the city encompasses and the lifestyle which it embraces. For me, I thought this was how it was everywhere else. Slowly, over the years, I've been gently disabused of such notion. In this hub, I'm going to try to paint a picture for you of what it's like in LA and what the culture is like. This will be difficult for me as there are still many things that I think of as being ordinary which might not be.
There is no normal in LA. Being eccentric or different is what's normal. So, to be normal, dress normal, etc., makes you somewhat unusual. So, to be normal is to be different -- get it? I was recently talking to a friend from another state who had come to LA to pursue a career in the film industry. She commented on the fashion in LA and how it was casual, artistic, relaxed, etc. Something you wouldn't find "back home". I never thought we had a different sense of style in LA or that it would be anything anybody would aspire to but, apparently, it is.
Connections and Hollywood
Los Angeles is all about connections. True thing. It's about who you know. While this is true anywhere you go, it's even more so in LA. Example: I've been invited to be an extra in a number of different movies, commercials, etc., by friends who were in that industry. Just because I knew somebody. Such opportunity does exist in Hollywood and Los Angeles where somebody can stumble upon you and say, "You'd be great for my movie." One time I was body surfing with my dad and I came back to find a note on my towel saying, "You have the look, I'd like to make you an actor." Fortunately for me, he was not a creep who wanted me in some adult film (I was 16 at the time) but was actually the director of The Paper Chase, a movie from the 70's. My dad was more into that than I was, honestly, and we went to our friend, Doreen Stone for headshots. She does headshots and photographs for many actors and celebrities -- a pro. This is as far as my acting career went, I just wasn't into it. This came as a shocker to other actors who I would later meet or be an extra with, that I'm not interested in pursuing that career. And while you can be stumbled upon, don't let that make you blind to the fact that what it really takes to make it in that industry is plenty of work, practice, lots of auditioning and it helps to know the right people. Don't expect to just have it fall into your lap.
Because you need to sort of promote yourself, people can get into a frame of mind where they're a little, if not wholly, self centered. This does not go for everybody, mind you, but it is something which you will see. I've noticed it most, because of the contrast I've seen in my recent travels to Washington and Canada. Self image is overrated, in my opinion and you get some people obsessing about being skinny. Sadly the large majority of people caught in this trap are the girls who are trying to follow a career in modeling or acting.
Cost of Living
The cost of living is high. Unless you want a rundown place in a bad part of town, you can expect rent for a one bedroom apartment to be easily over $1,000 a month. You can find a good deal if you look though. As it's expensive to just live in LA, you'll find that many actors work two jobs. One is acting and the other, very often, is being a waiter/waitress. The schedule for a waiter is flexible and if you're in a more posh restaurant you can get decent money on tips. You also get to practice memorizing lines and delivering them in that you have to know the menu -- never thought of it like that, did you? My buddy is a regular extra on Grey's Anatomy and his second job is being a translator at a hospital. I find that to be amusing. But, my estimate is that about one third of the waiters/waitresses in nicer restaurants are actors, especially if you go to something more trendy.
I know I said a couple of the negative points but there is a great thing: the weather. Sunny skies and decent weather for the majority of the year. You wont have proper seasons in LA. It's as if the year goes like this: SUMMER, SUMMER, winter, SUMMER. I've found a couple of Los Angeles kids (myself included) having a difficult time grasping the concept of spring and fall because it doesn't properly occur in LA. It also rarely rains. My joke is that when it does rain, I'll comment, "Ah, it's our tri-annual rain." Rain is rare enough that some people run around like Chicken Little saying how the sky is falling. You'll hear them comment how it's "Pouring outside!" when it is a mere drizzle.
Whites are the minority in Los Angeles. Because they act like the majority at times it doesn't change the hard fact that whites are outnumbered. It's 60% Latino, another percent Asian, etc. I love that too. I've known this for years but it never hit home until I traveled to Salt Lake City, Denver and Boston. Then I came back and I saw it! People all around me and almost none of them were white. I was, for the first time in my life, able to really notice the ethnicity. Before this point I saw everybody else simply as people just like myself and didn't put a label on them. It was interesting.
Diversity is a good word for Los Angeles. There is not a single kind of culture or lifestyle that's left out of the equation. America was once the melting pot of the world and LA still represents that except that instead of totally mixing, the different cultures, lifestyles and ethnics stay somewhat separate while still intertwining, like a giant cultural lava lamp.
There is so much to do just from the countless musical performances and the huge range of different restaurants. I can comfortably say there are also thousands of secret hidden treasures or hang out spots. It's impossible to know them all. You can literally have lived in Los Angeles your whole life and even if you were to go to a different place every time, there would still be virgin, untouched places you haven't yet ventured to.
There is so much I can say, especially if I were to get into specific places but I wont do that here and now. My intention was to give you a general overview. Hope I was able to paint that picture for you.
P.S. I took the above picture in Venice Beach, which is a part of Los Angeles.