1. Dunkin’ Donuts
Spare me the argument that the donut and coffee king just opened up a shop in Santa Monica this year. I grew up with five DD shops in my tiny hometown and am used to stumbling down just about any street in order to get my morning fix of perfectly brewed Iced Turbo coffee and five-flavor Munchkin assortment. One shop is not enough for a thirty mile town full of East coast transplants.
2. Polar Seltzer
Arrowhead sparkling water is garbage and while La Croix is enough to hold me over (that coconut flavor is really fucking special), nothing beats Massachusetts’ own Polar Beverage Company. The seltzers come in hundreds of flavors (everything from berry to eggnog) and rolls out new flavors for every season. I have gone as far as ordering my beloved vanilla in cases on Amazon, but the shipping cost of $24 leaves a bad taste in my mouth. That said, I will absolutely Venmo cash anyone who can prove to me that they’re mailing me a box of new seasonal flavors and old standards.
3. Sense Of Urgency
This was the thing that puzzled me most when I first moved to the west coast. Does no one have anywhere to go? Does no one assume that the people around them have places to go? If “nobody walks in LA”, it’s because the few people that DO walk move like fucking snails, taking up the whole sidewalk. Your days of grabbing a quick Starbucks on the way to work are over, too. From the customers to the baristas, you’d think everyone in this city is chronically three hours early, not twenty minutes late. I miss the invisible fire under everyone’s ass in New York in Boston. I miss walking at a clip fast enough that the walking counts as actual physical exercise.
4. Decent Pizza And Chinese Food
For all of the ethnic food that Southern California does well (mainly Mexican, Japanese and Armenian), there’s a truly disappointing Italian or Chinese meal waiting to insult your cravings. Before LA natives freak on me and list Mulberry Pizza or Village Pizza as two places that get the large pepperoni right, I will acknowledge that there are a COUPLE places that get both of these cuisines right. But when you consider the fact that there’s pizza and Chinese joints in just about every strip mall in this city, that’s not a particularly impressive statistic. Why is it that you kind of can’t get a bad slice or pan-fried noodle along the Eastern seaboard but have to search far and wide to find anything worth the calories out West?
5. Ethnic White People
Over Christmas I was struck with the realization that where I’m from, white people consider their ethnic background to be an overall indication of who they are and what they’re about. If you’re Irish, Italian or Jewish, you often manage to work that into your personal introduction. And babe? I like it. I feel like I have a better sketch or understanding of a person who I knew grew up on their Noni’s kitchen floor while she spent hours hand making gnocchi. It’s comforting to know that you share the same traditions as the 30 other Irish American girls in your catechism class.
6. Harpoon Beer
The realization that Harpoon Brewery doesn’t ship its delicious Winter Warmer brew out West was another hard blow when I first moved to this city. Even worse, you can’t have them ship you a case from the brewery because Massachusetts doesn’t allow you to mail liquor. To make up for it, I drink the cinnamon-y beer like it’s water when I go home, but like the Dunkin-effect, it would be easier if they’d just start selling the stuff out here. And don’t even suggest I switch to Sam, you Satanists.
7. Fun Rudeness
It’s hard to explain, but where I’m from, someone telling you to “shove it up your ass” is a way of telling you that you’ve made it, you’re in good. There’s a certain level of perma-flippancy that goes on back home that I miss all the time, especially when I find my own ball-busting to receive little more than a blank and/or sometimes offended stare. Hell, one of the main reasons why I like working with other comedy writers is because it’s the closest I can get to joking around with old friends. Imagine how great it is to grow up surrounded by tough senses of humor that train you to earn your laughs—then imagine how much it sucks to live somewhere where people get all butthurt if you tease them for living off of kale and grains traditionally used to fill bean bags.
Obviously California has history, especially Los Angeles, but honey—you know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about marked paths where Civil War soldiers ran, buildings older than your grandpa’s grandpa, the constant buzz about what happened where. In the nine years I’ve lived in L.A., I’ve had to seek out historical locations by looking them up on websites that look like they were built by a 70 year old in 1991. Back East, our history is a constant conversation and there’s a lot more of it. I’m not some history buff or something, but you can’t deny that there’s something powerful about knowing that great things happened on the very sidewalks you use to get to work.
9. Quick And Cheap Delivery
If you want to order in, be prepared to wait for the cook time plus the commute and have an extra five bucks ready because they’re going to charge you for the pain of having to drive a chicken Panini through rush hour traffic. As if the fact that I live here and want a chicken Panini is my fault. As if we shouldn’t just throw up our hands and say, “Hey! Maybe if delivery has to cost so much extra, we shouldn’t even bother to have it because where I’m from, delivery is treated like you’re any other customer, you just happen to not physically be in the store!” And I probably don’t need to say it, but there’s nothing about a $25 Panini that tastes any good.
10. Breakfast Sandwiches
I don’t want a goddamn tortilla-wrapped egg. I want an egg, some cheese and some bacon stuffed between an English muffin and I want it for $5 or less. I don’t want avocado, soyrizo or black beans. I don’t want that to even be an option. I want cheap, easy breakfast sandwiches available at every deli, coffee joint and bakery and I want them YESTERDAY!
11. Public Transportation
It can take HOURS to go what’s normally a twenty-minute distance on LA’s bus system. We have a subway, but it was banned from the west side for so long that it really only travels between the Valley and Long Beach east of Vine. Plans to expand the train have been in the works for years now, but when you think about the fact that this is one city that you NEED to be able to move about in order to get anything done, it’s insane that we’ve lived as long as we have without it. When I was without a car and took the bus to get most places (including a one and a half hour commute to work), I was keenly aware of how much this city seems to hate poor people and refuses to actually facilitate those who want to make a difference in their carbon footprint. You have to pay ten cents for a fucking grocery bag but you’re expected to hop in a gas guzzler and get on a freeway or two if you want to go to the beach? That’s real chill, LA. Real, real chill.