Latest 3 Things

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

3 Good Riddance

So, for those who don’t know it, I’m just a few weeks away from ending my five-year Los Angeles project and my eight-year California project - which has been, for the most part, a success. The trip that brought me here - from Florida to the west coast - was a journey across more than just miles; it was trip to a new degree, a new career, a new image, a new life, new friends, new loves, new losses, new perspectives and a new and completely unexpected chapter in my life. My time in California was nothing like I imagined it to be, and I was disappointed and pleasantly surprised in equal part.

I once wrote:

In the end, much like the balance of California, which enjoyed its initial national prominence as a result of the promise of gold for anyone with a shovel and some fortitude, L.A. is a city of promise unfulfilled - built on the golden hopes of those who would never strike it. It is also a place, however, whose endless springs of opportunity yield many, among us, who have found their way, despite it not being the one they initially set out on.

And so it’s gone with my own way, right out of world’s most famous state, and into the waiting arms of Nevada - off to a great new job, with a great new company, and an opportunity so rich and exciting that I can hardly believe I’m a part of it. There are a great many things I will miss about California. Most assuredly more than three (and I imagine there’s some more writing to be done on that matter), but there are a select few things that I will definitely not miss - and as luck would have it, there are three in particular:

1. The Flakes. During my first six months of living in Los Angeles I was stood up on seven dates. Seven. In the preceding 30 years of my life, I had only been stood up twice (and I thought that was a lot). It was a harbinger of things to come. I began to attend gatherings with 100 invites, 50 affirmative RSVPs and 10 actual attendees. I would call new friends to meet up, and find out on my way there that they wouldn’t be able to make it. And ever so gradually, I began to accept the “flake” culture. In Los Angeles, it is your inalienable right not to show up, especially if you’ve promised to do so. This forces people to overbook their evenings out like the last Southwest Airlines flight out of Vegas on a Sunday night - and then begin to broker which of the opportunities that actually do pan out will actually provide them the greatest social value. This search for the BBD (bigger, better, deal) has turned the previously enjoyable time spent socializing and “going out” into a complex science of social and actual economics, and rendered the majority of the social interactions a very well-heeled, tastefully decorated, and woefully overpriced networking event. In short, the only true way to relax in LA is just to stay home - which is why most people, no matter what they’ve planned or promised, just choose to do so.

2. The Traffic. How could I not mention this? Honestly, the Los Angeles highways have all the functionality of a Bangladeshi street market. The second largest city in the nation has a less effective mass transit system than Portland, Oregon (the 29th largest and less than 1/7th the size). Greed, ignorance, and dysfunctional local politics have rendered even the most modest road trips impassible parking lots - and if you expect to get from the north part of town to Orange County (about a 35 mile trip) on a weekday evening, you’d better leave yourself most of three hours to do it. And that’s on the 4 lane highway headed that direction. LA’s traffic compared to other cities‘ is like their winters compared to ours. Listening to people gripe about a five minute delay on their 20 mile work commute in other states and cities makes me want to slap them with a rake. There is nothing as maddening as bumper-to-bumper traffic caused only by poor civic planning, driver incompetence and just too many damned people; I’ll be much happier to move somewhere where traffic jams are caused by accidents, road construction, or actual severe weather (and not the light rain that brings the LA streets to a crawl).

3. The Price. The cost of living isn’t just high in Los Angeles, it’s downright insane. It’s a place where a six-figure income renders you lower-middle-class (and for dating purposes, the equivalent of a pizza-delivery guy in any other city). Buying a home that’s within fifty miles of the city that wasn’t built before 1920 is a million-dollar proposition. And by that I mean, you’ll need to have an actual million dollars to do so. And keep in mind, that’s not for a nice house. Gas prices are nuts, taxes are inexplicably high (for a state government that can’t seem to balance a budget), and a decent night out (i.e. dinner and a movie) is going to set you back a couple hundred bucks. It is estimated that the total cost of living in LA is 40-50% higher than many major midwest cities. That’s right, your money goes twice as far if you’re willing to tolerate an Ohio winter. That’s the kind of money what warms a lot more than your heart. The idea of owning a modest single-family home before age 40 shouldn’t be a fantasy.

* * *

Listen, I know I’ve left some things out, hell I couldn’t even begin to list the horrors of trying to date in the City of Angels, and Hollywood alone produces more easily identifiable absurdity than any similarly sized municipality in the world. And I’m only beginning to process the things and people that I will miss dearly as I plant myself just a scant 270 miles to the northwest, in a little township called Las Vegas. And don’t worry, that essay is coming - more than likely as the return of Tru Love. But, for now, I’m taking a few parting shots - call it a good laugh to save from crying. And so for anyone who was considering a move here, and wanted to me sum up the appeal of this crazy city in just one sentence, I’d probably tell them: “Los Angeles - Hey, it sucks, but it’s sunny.”


Hawkman said...

Yo...what up, P!?!?

Glenn H. Truitt said...

Well, there's a fourth for this list, but in the interests of discretion... I'm keeping it a secret - but thanks to Denise for pointing it out. Las Vegas, here I come!

Larry Richards said...

I could not agree more... and that's without going into anything to do with the wonderful world of Entertainment. Don't even get me started on that. After 8 years of having lived in L.A., the only things I miss are the great people I met (all of whom are in some segment of entertainment btw), the drive up the coast to places like Cambria and the close proximity of decent skiing. Best of luck to you, Glenn. Something tells me that Vegas ain't gonna be the last place you experience but it's sure to provide a whole new perspective - and I'm looking forward to reading about it.


Anonymous said...

Wow Glenn, so you are a DJ, Lawyer, and a writer? How talented. My friends and I enjoyed your show Saturday night (Kaiser Permanente). Thanks for the tips on things to do in LA. Have fun in Vegas!

Anonymous said...

Whoops Friday night.

Jimmy said...

I don't know if the flakes bother me so much, simply because I don't take many people in LA seriously.

I definitely will not miss the traffic if I ever leave.

Jen and Tonic said...

What about the smog. Dear God, that SMOG!!

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