Friday, August 19, 2011

'Eat Some Damn Sushi' and Other L.A. Survival Rules

On August 14, I celebrated the fourteenth anniversary of my move to Los Angeles.  Yes, fourteen years ago, my roommate and I rolled into town with late 90's hair and Third Eye Blind blasting.  Behind us caravan-ed my folks in a pick-up truck towing a Beverly Hillbillies-style trailer piled high with all our worldly possessions, including a black and white futon and several cheaply framed movie posters. We were quickly big pimpin' with our waitressing gigs and black and white headshots.  We lived off leftovers from my California Pizza Kitchen job and Jif peanut butter.

Those were the days.

Because I've spent arguably all of my adult years in L.A., I've learned a few things.  And, weirdly, there are exactly fourteen of them that I'd like to share with you.

1) It's perfectly acceptable to wear heels to brunch.  Or to lunch or karaoke or your doctor's appointment or shopping.  Just don't wear them to the beach or you'll look like an asshole.

2) Decide how long it will take you to get somewhere.  Now add half an hour just in case they're filming something or there's a premiere or some dick stopped on the side of the road or someone's playing The Hollywood Bowl or Lindsay Lohan is going to rehab again or The Lakers won or it's a random Tuesday.

3) By living in Los Angeles and putting up with the aforementioned traffic, the smog, the high cost of living and a certain degree of ridicule/scorn from everyone you know who lives somewhere else, you have earned the right to brag about the lovely weather whenever you want to.  Do not feel guilty.  You have paid for this right literally and figuratively.  Go ahead and tell your Texas relatives during a heatwave that it's thirty-five degrees cooler in your fair city.  They might hate you but they'll still crash in your guest room when they want to go to Disneyland.

4) Never ever ever fly out of or into LAX.  If you must fly out of LAX, drink heavily and wear your headphones.  Don't make eye contact with anyone.

5) Some cities are all about certain types of food.  As much as Chicago is about pizza and Philadelphia is about cheesesteaks, Los Angeles is about beverages.  We like coffee shops and wine bars and beer gardens and martini lounges.  We dig our tea rooms, juice bars and smoothie trucks.  We have joints just for tequila.  Pick your beverage first, then decide where to go to dinner/brunch/lunch.  Cheers.

6) The most important app an Angeleno can have on his or her phone is IMDB.  This way, you can win arguments at that tequila bar about whether the fellow in the booth next to you is Jason Bateman or Brendon Fraser.  After leaving the bar, never mention that you saw Jason Bateman or Brendon Fraser to anyone except your cousin who lives in Arkansas or whatever because no one here cares.

7) The 405 Freeway.  No.

8) 42% of your social life will revolve around sushi, so just go ahead and eat some damn sushi already.  Get over yourself; you'll like it.

9) People in Los Angeles love to hike.  If someone invites you to Runyon or Griffith Park, tell them you're busy but you'll meet them after for a drink or a coffee.  Choose a place right at the bottom of the hill.  Sit and smile as they sweat and tell you about the awesome nature you missed out on.  Nod your head and feel smug in the knowledge that hiking is just glorified walking.  Think of all the energy you saved!

10) You don't have to drive all the time.  There's a Metro and it's pretty cool.  And cheap.  And, it makes you feel like you're in a real live city!

11) Speaking of transportation, buses are only your friends if you're on them.  If you are in a car, on a bike or walking, give them a wide berth.  They will hit you, run you down, or knock you over nine times out of ten.  Buses are your Dementors.  Avoid at all costs.

12) When out-of-towners come visit you, take them to the beach or a museum.  Drive them to the Long Beach Aquarium or Huntington Gardens.  If they want to see Mann's Chinese or the Hollywood sign, hand them a map and tell them to have fun.

13) No one works a real job in Los Angeles.  Do not assume the rumpled dude next to you at the bookstore at 3:14 p.m. on a Wednesday is unemployed.  He probably makes more than your whole apartment complex combined.  Related:  Anywhere you go at any time might be crowded.  This includes movie theaters, restaurants, bars and waxing salons.  Plan accordingly.  (See number 2.)

14) When it rains, it is a catastrophe.  Be prepared to deal with terrible awful examples of horrid driving at every turn.  Also, do not watch news coverage or discuss the weather with neighbors or coworkers.  These people believe they're experiencing real weather.  Do not argue with them.  Just smile and enjoy the break from sunshine.

15) Do not go South of Pico.  Or, for that matter, the Valley, unless you are really craving Olive Garden or you need to fly somewhere.  (See number 4.)

Okay, that was 15.  The last one's one to grow on.

*This post is dedicated to Christie & Edi.  
**Photo by Eugene.