La La Land — the Magic of Los Angeles
I wrote a love letter to Paris last week. I figured Los Angeles is next. Home of the stars, home of the angels, home where my heart belongs.
I acted in Popcorn by Ben Elton in drama school. As I did, I had to research Los Angeles, where the play was set. This was back in the day. I mean there were still VHS tapes amongst the DVDs. So I remember watching a VHS tape in school about Los Angeles.
They spoke about mudslides, drive-by shootings, car accidents, earthquakes and plastic surgery. My best friend had also mentioned GMO palm trees that all grew straight in Beverly Hills. It sounded horrendous.
When researching LA, I started reading a Danielle Steel novel set there. I got a few chapters in before I gave up on the plot. The people in the novel just “loved” everything. I got so bored with the expression “she loved” that I literally stopped reading. However, I remember the main character having made a decision that she did, indeed, love Los Angeles and because of it, she never got angry with the traffic. It was just part of LA life.
Needless to say, I decided LA was the last place I wanted to live. My paranoid fear of earthquakes aside, the place sounded awful.
Then, in 2008, I went to Maui via San Francisco to do a course in personal development. I had the time of my life in Maui. And it so happened that I had the time of my life with people from Los Angeles.
The day I returned to London, I asked an attendant on Heathrow how I was going to get my two bags down the escalator to reach the tube station? There was no elevator? He promptly took one of them and placed it on the escalator for me and let it ride solo down. I had no option but to follow with my other bag.
This was a far cry from American hospitality.
As I finally got out of the tube to go stay at my best friend’s place, as I had rented out mine for a few days longer, I was greeted by police arresting drug dealers. Charming.
When I arrived at my best friend’s place, she announced that in year, when she graduated, she thought she and her boyfriend would move to LA; to the film industry.
I decided then and there that so was I.
Said and done, that summer I had an option to go to LA to complete a life coaching course instead of doing it in London, so I did. And a year later I moved to LA to attend UCLA Extension to study producing and film and television studies, as did my best friend, though her main field was film acting.
I love Los Angeles. And I always laugh at the traffic, because when I’m stuck driving up Laurel Canyon Drive, I know I’m home in my very own City of Angels.
The Perks of LA Living
Reading the beginning of this article, you already know some of the downsides of LA living. So let’s get to the better bits. There are many. Very many. At least if you ask me!
Rooftop meetings are a thing. You meet at a rooftop somewhere, probably a hotel, to dish out your business deals. So, basically, you sit next to a pool, drinking your brew of choice, under the shining sun, doing business. Who am I to complain?
Flip flops are the go to footwear and so long as you can make it bling, you can show up to any occasion in flip flops. As a woman, that is. As a man…you’re gonna have to get proper footwear.
Let’s just get this straight: LA may have a bad rep due to plastic surgery, but people take their inside health as serious as their looks. It’s not unusual to see someone in their seventies legging it up Runyon Canyon. I mean running past you. I find that hot. And I’m not talking about the sun. People who look after themselves are hot.
Healthy Food Options
I once found a kale Cesar salad on the menu in LA. Kale was a thing for a while. The latest superfood and “it” item on the menu (just don’t overindulge on raw kale or cabbage of any kind if you have thyroid problems and probably don’t do it if you don’t either — everything in moderation). I happen to love the All Hail Kale Salad at the Veggie Grill, but my kale obsessions aside, in LA you can find healthy food in a fast food joint. Seriously. People in LA care about their health. And that’s just sexy. And for veggie lovers like myself, it makes life a whole lot better.
The downside? I’ll get to that later.
The Film Industry
In LA the film industry is just “the industry,” because it really is THE industry. If people don’t work in it, they work around it.
Due to my love of film, it’s lovely to be surrounded by people who are into it. I love the passion. I love walking into a coffee shop and seeing people working on scripts. It makes me high on happiness.
Entrepreneurs and Artists
While most people may work in film, there are a ton of entrepreneurs and artists flooding Los Angeles and the O.C. San Fran and Silicone Valley are close and it’s as if the whole of California is filled with an entrepreneurial spirit that makes you wake up and taste the passion. Possibly due to the many specialty coffee shops.
Maybe it’s a remnant from the California Gold Rush? People became entrepreneurial back then and most people who made a fortune made it from businesses, not the gold.
The same holds true for the artistic spirit. LA is filled with artists. It’s invigorating.
There are great beaches. Need I say more? Didn’t think so.
Venice Beach on a Sunday
I love going to Venice Beach on a Sunday to do slack lining, while others are swinging in the rings, or doing acrobatics on the built in mats. Someone will invariably walk by playing the guitar, or playing with their pet snake (no, seriously, someone biked past me with a snake once). It’s a great place to meet people while having fun.
The Hollywood Hills
There’s no better place to live than the hills. I love the views. I love the fog as it snakes its way up the hills and makes the lights look like magical lanterns in the night. I love the community in Laurel Canyon. I love the winding roads (but not on foggy nights and not when overly confident people try to drive full speed on rubbish collection day). I love the places along Sunset Boulevard below — from having drinks at Chateau Marmont, to buying my favorite foods at Trader Joe’s and browsing at Book Soup.
Downtown may not be much to look at, but in LA you’re surrounded by rolling hills and mountains that you can go hiking in, long beaches, deserts, woodland and fields. You have it all. Go skiing an hour from LA, or hit the desert for some sunshine.
Whether you want to drive to San Francisco, or Las Vegas, it's all quite possible in less than a day. The whole of California and the nearby States are filled with experiences to be had.
The Spiritual Vibe
Most people may come to LA because of their broken egos, but in their defense, most people also try to find themselves, either via AA or Agape. Many take it to the extreme (though if you want to go really hardcore, go to San Fran) and go off with the fairies, but many also just sincerely try to better themselves. Hopefully, there will come a time when they realize that wearing purple won’t turn them into kinder, more spiritually enlightened souls, but rather that hard work and a willingness to give up on their egos will. All the same, I like it. I like the willingness to explore and I’m as new age and egotistical as the rest of them.
Mulholland at Night
Driving along Mulholland and stopping by a lookout spot at night to view the glittering city below is just simply magical. It can’t be described, it needs to be seen.
A lot of trends start in LA, which can be explained by the number of influencers living there, but also by people’s willingness to try new things. Yes, they may fall fool to fad diets, but at least they don’t turn down progress. They’re willing to look at things from a new perspective. They don’t necessarily think something is true because it’s the way it’s always been. They’re willing to believe the world is round, when everyone else is still saying it’s flat.
If you want to try out a new product, try it in LA.
The Downside to LA
So why does LA have a bad rep if everything is fabulous in the city of sun and desert winds? Well, there are a few things, beside the mudslides and fires fueled by aforementioned winds. Let's have a look at those things.
Any Fad Goes
Remember kale as hitting the “it” list for menu items? Well, I love kale, so I was happy about that, but a kale Cesar salad really isn’t that tasty, nor is kale always the healthiest option.
A varied diet is the healthiest option. Just because goji berries and cranberries have high antioxidant values (ORAC), doesn’t mean that they’re better than a good old apple. Remember that the ORAC values are measured per gram. Eating 250 grams of apples every day is fairly easy, but try consuming 250 grams of goji berries every day… Also, different foods have different nutrients, which is why you can’t just live off one superfood or another.
In LA people are simply prone to believe in the latest health fad if it can be backed up with enough pseudo science and sometimes that’s to the detriment of everyone in town. Spirulina cake, anyone?
The traffic in LA is no joke. I often don’t give a hoot, as I turn on my radio and enjoy the fact I’m in LA. I accepted long ago that home has a lot of traffic in it. That’s not to say that when you have to get from point a to point b at rush hour traffic and you arrive two hours later that you feel particularly fresh.
The exhausts are, of course, one of the worst side effects. Which is why everyone and their dog is driving a Toyota hybrid or a Tesla. Thankfully. I know it may cost the environment more to produce and use an electric car, but at least it doesn’t pollute the big cities as much. Let’s just pray the day comes soon when truly environmentally friendly and soundless cars arrive.
Get some non-fiction audio books so you can learn while driving, or do conference calls over bluetooth. It’s the only multi-tasking I can think of that won’t result in you driving off the road.
Hot Men and Palm Trees
Men in LA do take their muscles seriously and can often be seen out jogging almost the aforementioned GMO palm trees in Beverly Hills, weaving in and out of traffic as they cross streets filled with swanky cars. The problem? It’s very hard to concentrate on driving. There are hot men, hot cars and a million palm trees one could run into.
The Broken Egos
Some people don’t come to LA because they love film, or music, or whatever, they come there to become famous, or get rich. They don’t truly care about their professions, they care about the billboards.
The worst part of it is not the bad acting that comes with it, but people falling apart. In LA one in a couple of thousand make it. The rest, no matter how many times they’ve read The Secret, will fail at becoming famous. They may, on the other hand, succeed in living happy lives doing what they love if they work hard at it and believe they will make it. The Secret is about living from your heart and I can guarantee you that becoming famous isn’t what most people truly desire.
The problem is, many people can’t handle the rejection, or they get sucked into trying to sleep their way to fame, party their way to fame, or do coke to numb their insecurities. People feel like LA beat them up, but it’s not LA. They beat themselves up.
Sharing a message, becoming an influencer, all that is very possible. Making a living as an actor, possibly while also teaching, or doing something else part-time, that’s very possible. Becoming the next Channing Tatum, on the other hand, is a little bit more difficult. It will happen for some, but even if that’s you, how can you make life great right now? How can you dance and act right now?
On the flip side of the coin, there are those who make it by walking over corpses, sometimes quite literally. That's not truly making it either. That's more like digging your own grave as you aren't enjoying your life. You live imprisoned by your ego.
If you can find happiness in LA before you find fame, then you’ve truly made it.
There’s more to LA than I have mentioned here. Much more. From farmers markets to the best ever American breakfast joint (The Griddle), but I fear you may get tired of my ranting. Just go there and explore it for yourself, but remember, as a friend of mine once said: New York is for visiting, LA is for living.
It’s the lifestyle that makes LA worth it and that’s best experienced by living there.