Thought Catalog
October 24, 2012

A Beginner’s Guide To Los Angeles

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Welcome! How was your flight? Sit next to any celebrities? No? You probably just didn’t realize who it was. There are lots of famous people in Los Angeles you may not recognize yet. For example, if you see a white guy with a short beard, that’s probably Paul Thomas Anderson. It was a woman? Could’ve been Meryl Streep, deep in character. A black woman? Well, I did hear they’re working on a Tropic Thunder 2… Interesting.

I assume you’re coming out here to be an actor? A director? Please tell me you’re planning to work in entertainment. Maybe people in other industries live here — we don’t know. Frankly, we don’t want to know. You’re going to be expected to know how movies are doing in the box office, what shows are hits, and which ones were canceled. And you’ll be expected to care. Or at least to fake it. LA takes kindly to phonies.

Where are you going to live? Hollywood will keep you close to the action, and by action I mean unstable men dressed as superheroes fighting each other. Santa Monica is nice — they just legalized Frisbee-throwing, and they’ve stopped jailing people for bicycling without a license. But it’s far. Conversely, Los Feliz is convenient to a lot of places, but mostly just House of Pies. I couldn’t tell you about West Hollywood because I’ve never managed to find parking there. Echo Park has a bar that gives out free tacos, and homeless people who wear skinny jeans. Culver City is a compromise. The valley is a no.

But don’t worry too much about where you’re going to live. You’ll be spending most of your time right here — in traffic. Once you’ve lived in LA for a while, you’ll learn how to avoid the worst of it — I mean, what kind of moron flies into LAX at 4:00 on a Friday? Sorry, sorry, you didn’t know. They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at anything. So for most people, it takes about three days of living in Los Angeles to become an expert at idling on the 405.

This might be a good time to point out that LA isn’t just a city — it’s a collection of 158 small cities and 114 neighborhoods, all connected by a series of efficient strip malls. This has its pluses and minuses. For one, you’re never more than a mile from a 7-11, a frozen yogurt shop, and a Thai massage parlor. Yes, I meant that as a plus. You can actually find almost anything in LA if you look for it — horseback riding, shooting ranges, barcades, puppet theaters, a Museum of Jurassic Technology. Anything except a Dunkin’ Donuts.

There’s even natural beauty — the city is surrounded by mountains, lined with palm trees, and bordered by the Pacific Ocean. There are some beautiful old buildings downtown, too, though they were generously donated to the residents of Skid Row. What’s left is, well, ugly. They had to build LA fast and cheap — there were romantic comedies to be made! That’s a large part of the reason Los Angeles doesn’t engender the same kind of pride as, say, New York. It’s hard to feel proud of a city that no one took pride in building, aside from the cartoonish supervillain played by Christopher Lloyd in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

But there’s a lot to love here — I’m sure you’ll find it once we start moving again. And really, if you want to work in film and TV, there’s no better place on the planet.

Wait a second… You didn’t come here to be a writer, did you? WRITER IS TAKEN. TC Mark

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