Overheard In Los Angeles

A woman is typing on her computer at Intelligentsia, a hipster coffee shop in Silverlake that reminds me of Bedford Avenue. In the three weeks I spent in Los Angeles, I went there almost everyday to work because it attracted the kind of ridiculousness I’m always looking for in that city. This woman was older, maybe in her late thirties, and had tattoos. She was typing slowly on her old MacBook when she stopped to answer a phone call. She talked to whoever this person was on the other end of line about how hard it was for her to get out of bed today but the Prozac she has just been prescribed has really helped her. She actually seemed pleased with herself. She then talked about this boy she had been dating. “I looked him up on IMDB. I’m such a stalker.” She seemed tired and hopeful. I liked her.

A woman is describing the neighborhood of Silverlake to her friend while sitting in a restaurant in Silverlake. “It’s not as gay as like WeHo but it’s Los Angeles so it’s pretty gay everywhere. Silverlake is more diverse and full of artists. Not as gay though.” I never heard her friend respond, which was weird, but she kept on reiterating how Silverlake was “gay but not too gay.” I didn’t like this woman.

A drunk British woman told me that she loved my aura at the Chateau Marmont. I was at the hotel in a professional context so I was initially embarrassed by the interruption. However, the more she tried to grill me for information about myself, the more I felt at ease with the situation. I had to tell myself that this was the reason you go to the Chateau Marmont: to get accosted by aging foreigners with fake breasts who congratulate you on being so real, so salt of the earth. I liked this woman but maybe not for the same reasons she liked me.

An aging queen talked with his friend about recently moving to L.A. from San Francisco to get his spec script off the ground. That was fine, I loved that for him, but things got really weird when he decided to blast gay porn in the coffee shop at maximum volume. I stopped liking him then.

So many bits and pieces of conversations about pilots or deals or Paramount studios being a dick or whatever. These conversations follow a script of their own and are usually really boring unless they’re openly talking shit on a celebrity. I hate all of these people.

An older gay man getting his haircut in the outdoor patio of a very bourgie salon in Beverly Hills. He gossiped to his hairdresser mostly about money problems and going bald. I didn’t like or dislike this man. He just made me sad.

An eight-year-old boy at Cross Creek in Malibu complaining about his weight to his mother. “I’m 102 but I would like to be 90 again.” This was not a joke. This was so real that it almost made me throw up all over Planet Blue. I liked the boy and I hated his mother. Who do you think is planting these ideas in his head?

These conversations all feed into this stereotype of L.A. being a city full of phonies who are obsessed with the entertainment industry. They’re not a fair representation—L.A. is so much more than that—but I realized while on the plane back home to New York that I perhaps consciously seek out that cliched Los Angeles experience. I don’t want to know about the nuances of the city. I want the super sized version of the city. I want sad delusional people talking about a bigshot movie producer over some iced teas. You can’t really get that anywhere else and since I’m a visitor rather than an actual resident of the city, I guess I’m more interested in just hearing the most quintessential L..A. conversations, stuff you wouldn’t be caught dead talking about anywhere else. This may be why people hate L.A. but it’s why I love it. It’s why I’m missing it so much already while I’m flying over Iowa and dreaming about sprawling backyards, Arnold Palmer’s, and a nice California salad. I want to go back. I’m not finished overhearing things. TC mark

image – Krevitivity

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • WOO

    yey ryry

  • Stephen Burke

    We clearly spend our time on very different parts of Bedford Avenue.

  • Anonymous

    I love LA and running into famouss people while you’re at a cafe. 

  • RAH

    This was really good.  Thanks for keeping me entertained Ryan. 

  • Mary

    I agree! Im living in LA for 3 months on a work assignment. This city can be described in 10 words. Signs. Shoes. Cars. Liquor. Shopping. Greenery. Parks. Entertainment. Architecture. Museums. Beach. I’m going to write about this in my blog, goldencoastadventure.wordpress.com

  • ami

    Your articles always end so abruptly! Slightly anti-climactic…


    This article sums up the differences in growing up in the Valley versus growing up in the SGV.

  • http://fr.photoswomens.com Femme

    I completely agree to this. I love this city!

  • your cousin

    *Laura Palmers. (The vodka kind.)

  • http://twitter.com/blingless Dave P

    A couple from my own collection:

    “I’ve been liasing my ass all over the place.”
    “I think I was born to be a revolutionary…for what, against what, I don’t know.”


  • margot_tenenbaum

    as an LA native, this tickled me in all the right spots. i usually loathe it when people talk about the stereotypical LA, but you did it in such a delightful, non-abrasive way. “Please sir, I want some more.”

  • Chrissy Harris

    Whenever someone from TC talks about L.A. they only mention Hollywood, Beverly Hills, or hipster cafes. Want real L.A.? Take a ride on Crenshaw Blvd or Vernon. Stay in Inglewood for awhile. You’ll hear some real talk there. Truth.


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=19608362 Christopher Equality Dilley

    East Coast – my entire life
    New York City – 6 years
    Los Angeles (WeHo) – 3 months

    You’re on the money here and you’re “Screw You New York” article hits it on the head as well. Having had enough “screw you’s” in New York I haven’t really reached the longing to return you spoke of in the conclusion of it yet as I’m definitely finding the “nuances” of Los Angeles to be quite charming as well.Looking forward to reading more about your West Coast adventures as a New Yorker!

  • FC

    Paragraph 3: Humblebrag

  • http://twitter.com/yuramint stacy k

    I’ve lived in Silverlake/Los Feliz my entire life and I hate having to explain what it is everytime!

  • http://thestarspangledgirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/chapter-21-los-angeles-one-post-of-many-to-come/ Los Angeles (One Post of Many to Come) | The Star Spangled Girl

    […] “Overheard in Los Angeles” also by Ryan […]

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