Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

I Love L.A. (We Love It!)

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In any relationship, there must be change.   When you first meet someone, there is always a lot of newness and sexual energy.  But things grow stale without variety.    That’s why I’ve changed my mind about memes in my second year of blogging — and decided to do one. 

Thanks Shane Nickerson at Nickerblog, for tagging me with this special Los Angeles meme.

Four Things About Los Angeles

Four Jobs I’ve Had In My Life in LA:
Reader/Story Analyst
Sitcom Writer
Disney Animated Cartoon Writer
Web Producer

Four Movies About LA I Could Watch Over And Over:
Singing in the Rain
Sunset Boulevard
L.A. Confidential
10

Four LA-Themed Shows I Love(d) To Watch:
24
The Brady Bunch
Three’s Company
Curb Your Enthusiasm

Four Places I’ve Lived All Over L.A. (With Food Memories From Each):
Mid-Los Angeles:  Fairfax and Melrose (with two female roommates — just like Three’s Company!):  Corned Beef sandwich at Canter’s Deli
Santa Monica:  9th and Santa Monica (ooked out over Toyota dealer):  Benita’s Frites on Santa Monica Promenade
West Hollywood:  Fountain and Poinsettia:  Noodles at Toi on Sunset
Redondo Beach: Yellowtail from Ichiriki Sushi

Four Places I Would Vacation At In LA:
Ritz Carlton, Pasadena
Chateau Marmont, West Hollywood
Big Bear
Hotel Oceana, Santa Monica

Four LA-Based Websites I Visit Daily
Delicious Life
Jew Eat Yet?
Words for my Enjoyment
Living the Romantic Comedy

Four Of My Favorite Foods Found In LA:
Pink’s Hot Dogs, La Brea Avenue
Dim Sum at Empress Pavilion, Downtown LA
Lemon Tart at Sweet Lady Jane, Melrose Avenue
Chicken Cilantro Soup, Martha’s 22nd Street Grill, Hermosa Beach

Four Places In LA I Would Rather Be Right Now:
Farmer’s Market, 3rd and Fairfax
Driving PCH in Malibu when there is no Traffic
Hermosa Beach Pier
Huntington Library, San Marino

Wanna Do It?
Cruisin’ Mom
Inland Empress
Dad Talk
Diary of Jamie
and Sophia!

I don’t usually write that much about Los Angeles.  Maybe I’m afraid that my snobby East Coast readers wouldn’t show any interest in anything about the city other than celebrity encounters.  However, unlike Pauly, I rarely run into celebrities in the supermarket or pharmacy (although I did almost crash into Julie Andrews’ car in the Beverly Center).   To get a real sense of Los Angeles media life (other than the typical Hollywood stuff) I would suggest LA Observed, which is essential LA reading (and frequently more interesting than the Los Angeles Times).

A few weeks ago, I read that Parisian blogger, Nathan, was coming to Los Angeles for a visit.  I always get nervous when I hear someone is visiting LA for the first time.  It’s a difficult city to like, especially when you’re coming from one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  I emailed Nathan, going into LA Chamber of Commerce mode, pleading with him to give the city a chance before he even got on the plane, knowing ahead of time exactly what bad things he was going to encounter — the traffic, the narcissistic people, the ugly buildings, etc.  I reminded him that the city is spread out, and many of its charms can be hidden.

Despite the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and the mountains that surround the city, LA is an ugly city, filled with mini-malls and lack of history.  I miss New York a lot.  But LA does have a weird energy that keeps me here.  Maybe the city’s lack of maturity parallels my own.  Or maybe I just like wearing flip-flops to IHOP.

Update:  I used to tell my friends in New York that the one thing keeping me in Los Angeles is Trader Joe’s.   Today my mother called and said that they are building a Trader Joe’s on 14th Street.   Damn New Yorkers!  

Now there’s no reason to stay in Los Angeles —

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56 Comments

  1. New York is overrated and talk about ugly, there is little beauty to appreciate. LA has beautiful beaches and mountains and more opportunity than you can shake a stick at.

  2. Here’s a celeb encounter I know you’ll appreciate, Neil. I got to serve a Starbucks drink to Brooke from All My Children last week. That’s the only celebrity encounter I’ve had since moving to Southern California.

  3. Jack — I knew you were going to say that! You’re LA’s biggest supporter. That’s why I didn’t ask you to do the meme — you love LA too much! Granted the ocean and mountains are beautiful, but when I leave my apartment at Olympic Blvd. in midtown, LA just screams “ugly.”

    LA needs more:

    1) Parks.
    2) Real trees that give shade.
    3) Some organized building code that forces developers to think about the aesthetics of their buildings.
    4) Stringent rules on the design of mini-malls.
    5) A subway that goes from Union Station to Santa Monica and LAX.
    6) Limits on how many Office Depots are allowed in the city.
    7) A tabloid newspaper to compete with the LA Times.
    8) A mayor who has some control in the city.
    9) A population that cares about the civic nature of their city, and not just their private homes and cars.

    Frankly, the city is so decentralized, it’s hard to know what city you actually live in. So far, I’ve really only lived in Los Angeles for a short period of time. The rest of the time I lived in West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Redondo Beach. How do you make all these people in different mini-cities feel like they are part of one bigger city — like the boroughs do in New York?

    But you’re right. New York is ugly in parts, too. I think we all should move to… Vancouver. Now that’s a nice place!

    Mo — Brooke from AMC! Now that’s a real star!

  4. Damn it, Neil…I asked you not to post my picture. But I’ll do the meme anyway. Thanks for asking! What’s meme protocol?…do you answer on your own blog or on the blog of the person who tags you?

  5. You would think, living where I do, I wouldn’t find a meme like this very interesting. But I did!

    1) Sunset Boulevard is one of my all time favourite movies. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve watched it (thank God for DVDs!).

    2) I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I love Curb Your Enthusiasm. (DVDs again – it’s one of the only shows I have on DVD – all four released seasons).

    3) I went to that “Living the Romantic Comedy” URL – I’ve got that guy’s book! (I thought his name looked familiar. My favourite “type” of movie is romantic comedy, though I’m kind of picky about them. But my favourite movie is My Man Godfrey, a romantic comedy of sorts – screwball with a little social awareness. And William Powell, Carole Lombard … how can you lose?)

    As for posts about L.A., I’m neither interested nor disinterested in it. I suppose if every post was about living in L.A. I’d get bored pretty quickly. But as it is, when the posts are occasional, I find it interesting to read about what it’s like to live in other places. And it’s certainly interesting to read and see what L.A. is like from the perspective of real people and contrast it to what comes across through things like E! and Entertainment Tonight. Perception and reality are two very different things, I think, where L.A. is concerned.

  6. LA has a million parks in it, you probably haven’t visited half of them. Run through Griffith Park, visit Shadow Ranch, check out the Pan Pacific, go to the Pier, Chatsworth Park, wander through the Santa Monica mountains and admire the waterfalls and deer. They both exist.

    Stop blogging and start jogging and you’ll see.

  7. I have several blogger friends in L.A. and I hate you only because you have much nicer weather. New England weather sucks.

    I admit to having greeted one of my west coast blogger friends with the email, “Hope things are well in L.A.– where the people are fake but the tans are real.”

    (In my defense, it was snowing here at the time.)

  8. Two things:

    What sitcom?

    And did you get that gal’s number?

  9. I watched the movie Crash last night with my boyfriend and, at some point, told him that I never found L.A. attractive, from any of its representations that I have seen on TV or in movies, and that it was definitely not a priority for me to ever visit that city. But – hey, maybe I should give it a shot. I am waiting for the Popular Culture Conference to go there, that will be the perfect excuse to get my ass to this great Mecca of West Coast popular culture.

  10. I’ve only been to LA once (DNC convention) but your post and meme made me want to give it another shot.

  11. Trader Joe’s is the same reason for why I stay in DC. There are absolutely none in upstate NY, so what’s the point of living there?

    We need not get into the fact that it’s cold and dreary for 9 months of the year and that it’s freakishly small up there, but there is no TJ’s. And without it, I might die.

  12. Any East Coaster who comes to LA, be sure to give me a call. I’ll take you for some real Mexican food, not the crap they give you in your city. I’ll even wear my flip-flops.

  13. Have to agree with Rabbit that the only reasons New Englanders hate Californians is the weather is nicer.

    I traveled a lot to Newport Beach with my last job, six times a year, and my question to you is what’s up with the traffic? I had to travel from Irvine to Newbury Park up the 405. We left at 9:00 am and barely made my meeting at noon.

  14. Irvine to Newbury Park. That is the 405 to the 101, must be close to 100 miles.

  15. You can’t complain about the weather. But, it’s been said a million times before, you really begin to miss the seasons. Culture is so built around the idea of four seasons — that you miss the beautiful transitions to fall and winter and spring. I would trade a month of sunshine for one day of waking up and seeing snow outside. And no, Jack, driving up to Lake Arrowhead is not the same thing.

  16. I’m with Jack (and Randy Newman)..L.A. all the way, I love it…and I’ve lived in the “changing” seasons…beautiful to look at…but I’d much rather face an occasional earthquake than tornados, hurricanes or blizzards where you are stuck inside, or have to shovel snow, or slip on ice. Where else can you wave to Jay Leno driving down the street or have lunch next to Mickey Rooney, I mean…come on!

  17. Neil,

    Can you get me that recipe for Chicken Cilantro Soup, Martha’s 22nd Street Grill, Hermosa Beach — sounds good.

  18. Another thing I like about East Coasters is that they can love their city while complaining about it all the time. What’s so wrong with saying LA sucks and still loving it? (Randy Newman was being sarcastic in his song) It reminds me of the checkout girls at Ralphs who are always telling me to “have a great day.” People in NY, Boston, and Philly complain about their crappy cities all the time, but would never leave it for another more crappy place. I say LA would be a better place to live if we were secure enough to say how much we hate all the traffic and annoying residents. Let’s be honest and think about ways to make it a better place. LA is way over-crowded, too spread out, with bad public transportation, bad schools, half the city unable to speak English, an entertainment industry in serious trouble, an overpriced housing market, the worst air pollution in the country, a clunky city government (quick: what’s our mayor’s name?), stupid local news coverage on TV, and racial tensions. It’s great to meet Jay Leno every once in a while, but I’m sure he’s not worrying too much about his LA school district. In fact, I read that the LA entertainment industry community is one of the least charitable to cultural institutions such as the symphony and museums.

    Pearl — I’m waiting for you to come so we can eat it together!

  19. Griffith park is the largest municipal park in the country, and one of these days they will freakin’ reopen the observatory, the coolest place in LA, imo.

    There’s a lot I love about LA and the times I lived there despite how it kicked my ass.

  20. My little ole’ Cleveland is looking better and better! I’m homesick!

  21. Gosh Neil, you don’t have to get hostile…(you must be from New York). Listen, I grew up here, and have seen the changes first hand. Of course the traffic sucks, the air sucks, the school system sucks (if you let it…kids from our local school go to Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, Univ. of Penn, etc., so it’s possible if you work hard to get into good schools).
    I love how it’s spread out, no problem with that. I love our weather, although today it’s frickin cold (for L.A. that is). The Mexican food is the best here (it sucks, back east). You’re right, way too many people. And who really cares about Jay Leno (I’d much prefer to run into David Letterman)…but I’d still take L.A. over most any city.
    By the way, my brother lives in Philly, and they have bad traffic, lousy schools too, and lousy weather (and the worst Mexican food ever…they think ketchup is salsa)

  22. I noticed that about salsa, too. It is so common here that I was surprised when I got blank stares when I asked for it last time in NY. But I think Mexican-born cooks are moving around the country, so I think salsa will soon be as common in Minnesota as bagels and pizza are now.

    And sorry, Cruisin’ for getting antsy. I just think the best way of telling others about something you love is also talking about some of their foibles and faults.

  23. I love L.A. too. In fact, I have dreams about shopping in Santa Monica. Seriously. Would I kid you? It’s a lot like Toronto, except without the snow, which is what makes it so great. Now tell me, because I’m dying to know which sitcom you wrote for. And if you say Max Headroom or Sledge Hammer I’m jumping on the next plane to L.A. so I can marry you.

  24. Max Headroom? Sledge Hammer? Jeez, wasn’t I still in second grade then?

  25. Hey Neil, you can get antsy anytime…isn’t that part of what we love about you? (and I agree, talking about faults as well as the positives, is the way to go)

  26. Cruisin — Like you wouldn’t want your husband to tell me that you are the best and most ever loving wife ever, without him also telling me about your snoring.

  27. God, I miss Trader Joe’s. There’s not one even anywhere NEAR North Carolina.

  28. Well, this was a perfect day to visit your blog for the first time. This meme tells me a lot about you. My husband is from San Pedro so we go every year for two weeks. I’ll have to show this to him, particularly the food references- He plans out our activities months in advance, with an emphasis on great places to eat!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! You’ve got a great place here.

  29. Second grade? I thought you were old like me.

  30. Anne — It’s LA. We always shave off 5 years from our lives. Do you mean you actually remember when that guy with the black hair — the former actor — was President? What’s his name again?

    Lucinda — Thanks.

    Cruisin’ — Despite me unable to fix anything in the house, I wonder if deep down I’m a country boy. I once spent a month with Sophia in a cabin in Vermont. And I loved it. And it was really beautiful. This is what winter should look like. (courtesy of Blue Poppy)

  31. Am I going to be banished if I say I like cold weather and have never been to Trader Joes?

  32. Scarlet — Banished? No way? I love nothing more than a woman who disagrees with everything I say. I even married one.

  33. Reason L.A. must exist:
    Provides comfort to those who thought their city was ugly (particularly those from Houston and Detroit).

  34. I feel left out here! No fair!!!! I demand REPAIR!!!

    🙂
    Fitèna

  35. Did you just try to steal Big Bear? It ain’t part of LA! If anything, it would be more a part of the IE than LA. You take that back young man!

  36. Official ugliest city — Phoenix.

  37. LA reminds me of my hometown, Johannesburg. It’s got energy. Sometimes the energy is destructive and dangerous and self-obsessed, but it pulses in a way that makes it really attractive. Wish I was there 🙂

  38. Cabin in Vermont? Didn’t look like winter in Vermont to me. Where was Rosemary Clooney? Isn’t she supposed to be there? Or do I have my movies muddled?

  39. your meme on LA acts as a simple, clean version of a travel guide. i am hoping to visit this autumn, and will print out as a primer. and yes, my ski trip was a soap opera: how does it happen? any hints on how to start turning it into a job as a writer on Bold & Beautiful, let me know ; )

  40. You did a great job Neil. Really, everything you told me was right.
    But why zankou chicken is not in your list ?

  41. Big Bear and Arrowhead are all ours. The hell with the g-d forsaken IE. The only time I want to hear about those places is during commercials for Guitar center. 😉

  42. Jack — I would love to mock Megan living in the IE, but the truth is — she can afford to own a home there, while I’m living in a subleased apartment where I’m always on the verge of being tossed out. Have you been to Riverside lately? They pretty much have the same exact stores they have here in LA — Starbucks, Borders, Marshalls, etc… and they’re closer to Big Bear!

  43. Neil,

    I own my house. Bought it five years ago and didn’t get a dime from anyone.

    It is a nice place in a quiet section of the Valley in which home prices have continued to rise and it is not covered in a perpetual layer of smog.

  44. I will take your word for it, Neil; I’ve never been to LA. And Heather, some of us LIKE living in upstate New York, even if there isnt a Trader Joe’s nearby.

  45. So, will you still be a big LA supporter when the Valley eventually breaks away and becomes it’s own city?

  46. Well, I personally plan to be the first female King Of The Valley. Also, I am investigating ways to annex the Grove/Farmer’s Market area into the Valley, kind of like a Berlin thing.

  47. P.S. I’m a big fan of valley secession. As a Southerner by birth, I find I am drawn to places where we want to up and start our own country. Or city, whatever. King of the Valley!!

  48. I also like the idea of splitting California in two. Let those snotty Northern Californians pay full price to go to Disneyland!

  49. Hey, I thought the banter about the IE was humorous, but now I gotta step in and defend the smog issue. What part of the valley DOESN’T have smog? Good God, that’s as bad as the IE!

    You silly, silly boys.

    Jack, you were smart to buy a house five years ago. I just bought mine last summer. I couldn’t afford it now with the increase in value. (That is absolute crazy to me how much everything has increased.) I give you a big “you go boy” and me a big “you go girl” in our house buying adventures. I wish I’d been in a place in my life to buy five years ago. I could have nearly paid cash. Ugh. Oh well, at least I bought when I did.

    Neil, you’re like my knight in shining armor right now for defending my ‘hood. Then again, Jack seems like a kind opponent.

  50. I will always defend you, Megan. I hate Jack anyway for buying that house five years ago… Too bad he’s stuck in the Valley.

  51. You know, Neil, the more I look at that girl’s bottom, the more it seems to me that she didnt know you were getting photographically up close and personal with her rear. Somehow or other, I dont think this is what Cartier-Bresson had in mind when he spoke of the decisive moment.

  52. Snotty Northern Californians? Well, fine. We have been saying for years to just split the state south of Big Sur. Oh, and we’re not that in love with Disneyland. Not like the you are with our water.

    Now back to what I originally had planned to say — loved your choice of L.A. Confidential. It’s one of my all-time faves — after Clint and The Godfather.

  53. “Now there’s no reason to stay in Los Angeles”? What about that beautiful pink adorned butt? That’s reason enough for me!

  54. Good point, Ed.

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