Los Angeles

Los Angeles is physically impressive. It’s impressive that a place so big and sprawling and interconnected exists, amidst some truly beautiful scenery. There are freeway interchanges that are pieces of art in the way they conduct traffic.

Traffic which, yeah, sucks. But compared to Toronto, at least it moves, however slowly.

I haven’t encountered a single incident where anyone was less than polite and pleasant with me. I’d rather not think about how much of that is due to being a straight white male who isn’t poor. “I’d rather not think about that” seems to be a pretty common state of mind out here.

In a lot of ways this city is broken. That’s not terribly unique among cities. What is unique is that no one I met, at any point gives a shit about fixing it.

That’s not entirely accurate. I did meet one guy who was genuinely passionate about civic issues, but the level of apathy here is amazing, not just compared to the Rob Ford circus, but even compared to the David Miller years in Toronto, or any Ottawa mayor.

No one cares about anything other than the stuff they’re here to do. My impression of people who live here is that they regard this city as an obstacle to obtaining whatever it is they’re looking for: fame, beauty, money, or most likely, all three. And you can get all three here in a way that isn’t quite possible in any other city I’ve seen.

Getting famous, or at least looking like you’re famous… one of the best jokes I heard this week was that the cost of living in Los Angeles isn’t that bad, but the cost of pretending is nuts, and I get that. I’ve never seen so many nice cars, and I wonder where the money to pay for them all comes from.

There’s an absolutely absurd amount of money flowing around this place. I’ve never seen so many billboards for TV shows that no one’s going to watch. And yet, every single person on every single of those shows is getting paid - the writers, directors, producers, lighting people, the people selling the billboard space and putting up the billboards and it’s just… who’s watching this shit? I don’t even have time to keep up with the small tier of elite television shows: Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men. Who has time for this stuff, who’s getting anything out of it that could possibly justify the massive expense that goes into it?

I don’t get it, but everyone seems to be chasing it, even if they can’t explain why it exists, so everyone’s superficially nice because you’d never want to lose a gig because someone thought you were a dick that one time you were a dick.

Maybe the new thing is going to be hyper-targeted content or crowdfunding. I don’t know, but it feels like the existing way of doing things is going to come crashing down, which isn’t a huge revelation, but being here makes you realize just how big that shakeup’s going to be, and just how many people are going to be affected. 

I don’t hate this city. I find it fascinating and, at least for me, generally pretty comfortable, which is not to say it’s comfortable for everyone - it’s pretty clearly not comfortable for a ton of people who don’t have the resources to relocate. I could live here… but I’d never want that to come across as an endorsement, because it’s kind of a shitty place.

But god damn, it’s beautiful. The inner peace you can obtain just by walking down the beach for 20 minutes is incredible. 

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