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I’m OK with LA

November 1, 2009

LAMy good friend, a local Angelino, always gives me a hard time for being an “LA hater”. It’s true there are things I don’t like about the city, and being and East Coaster I’ll be the first one to let you know what’s on my mind.

But at the same time I have found a lot of good that can be found in Lala Land. I’m very happy with the ammount I’ve been able to see and do here. As I mentioned before I feel like I really got to know this city pretty well. I know the back streets, some good eats, and some secret corners. There is plenty of good in LA, but there is plenty of bad to go along with it. Here is my list of some of the finer things that can be found in LA.

Tacos– There is a reason tacos are starting this list. And it’s because LA tacos are delicious. To me LA tacos are like slices of pizza in New York. I don’t think I’ve had a single bad taco  in LA. From chain taco stands to midnight taco trucks you can always find an incredible taco about 25′ away at all times. And not only are they delicious, but they usually go for about $1.25 each, and you get them as fast as you can order them. Add a horchata and some spicy pickled carrots and you’re in heaven. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Music- Where to begin? Well firstly Los Angeles is filled with incredible venues. Whether you’re checking out an alt-country band at the Troubadour, watching your favorite artist backed by the LA Phil at the historic Hollywood Bowl, or checking out a secret underground concert tucked away at the Topanga Roadhouse. LA is filled with great venues, and as a result has incredible draw for both big name artists and up-and-coming acts alike.

Los Angles also happens to have the coolest used CD store (Amoeba) I’ve ever been in. Sure it was started in San Francisco, but the LA Amoeba is a music lovers must-see. They have everything from obscure world music to speed metal. They have bands you’ve never heard of for a buck, and rare imports for the price of a nice steak dinner. If you’re a music lover just be careful if you walk in there with cash, you may never walk out with it.

LA is also home to one of my favorite radio shows ever “Morning Becomes Eclectic“. Running between the news on public radio (KCRW) the show plays a little bit of everything you want to hear, plus gives you a taste of some new bands you’ll want to hear more of. Not to mention getting incredible studio sessions from a variety of artists. I think it’s also worth mentioning the wonderful music KCRW brings to LA in their on-going concert series.

Oh yeah, and LA plays host to tons of music festivals, and is only a few hours away from both Coachella and Outside Lands festival. Do I need to say more?

Food- Sure the Tacos are good, but that’s not all LA has to offer. It also has some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. Incredible Brazilian/Ethiopian/Korean BBQ/Cheeseburgers/Salads/Thai/Greek/Lebanese/etc… Just as long as you stay away from the rabbit food they call “Raw Cuisine” you can’t go wrong with food in LA. A large part of it is because there is so much good produce grown in such close proximity, just try out one of the hundreds of farmers markets around the city on a Saturday morning. LA also offers a astounding array of cultures that weave a tasty tapestry of food. I’ve certainly eaten well here.

Hollywood Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu– I could easily say that LA is a great hot spot for martial arts in general, but I’ll give a particular shout out for Hollywood Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. I love my gym. It’s my home away from home. It’s almost like the bar in ‘Cheers’ if the bar at ‘Cheers’ taught you arm bars. The technique taught there is beyond excellent, it has some of the best people you’ll ever meet in LA, and one of the best instructors I’ve ever studied under. HBJJ is definitely one of the things I will miss most about LA.

The Dodgers– Also file under “Doyers”. They’re now officially my NL baseball team. And while it may be a few more years before I’ll see them in the World Series with my Yankees you can bet I’ll be proudly sporting for my other boys in blue. They have a great manager, a fun and talented young team, great history, great colors, and one of my favorite players in Russell Martin. Let’s just hope they can digest Manny a bit better in 2010.

The Weather– Being from back east I love the seasons, and I miss them. But as some cynic comic somewhere said, “I love the seasons too. That’s why I live in a place where they skip the crappy ones.” I’ll assume he means spring, summer, and winter. Which is true. LA is in a state of perpetual summer. Ok, I’ll stash my pessimist’s hat. LA has seasons, they’re subtle. The light changes angles, different flowers bloom, and the days get longer/shorter. But aside from that it’s pretty much always 75 and sunny here in LA. Never too hot, nor too cold. Never too dry, nor too humid. Pretty much that perfect summer day everyday. I’ll admit it’s frustrating when you’re feeling lazy. The sun splashing in through your window, birds chirping in the fresh air. A beautiful day beckoning you to go for a nice long hike when all you want to do is sleep off your hang-over. But I’ve learned that drawing shades can give you that overcast indoor day when you desperately need it.

The Healthy Lifestyle– There is no doubt LA is an image driven city. Most people here workout just to look good on the beach. But prideful aesthetics aside it’s all too easy to live a healthy lifestyle here in LA. Healthy food is more prominent than fast food, there are a ton of activities to do, and it’s always sunny and gorgeous outside. I’ve enjoyed becoming more active, and it’s a wonderful lifestyle here.

Culture– Art, music, architecture, history, movies, parks, museums, libraries, and almost anything else you can list in this category can be found in LA. They have some of the most prominent museums in the world, and of course the most robust entertainment scene in the world. But what a lot of people don’t realize is LA is also loaded with history. Olvera Street, Union Station, the Griffith Observatory, and many many historical neighborhoods. LA is one of the most vibrant and colorful cities on the planet, and I do love it for that reason.

Diversity- Where else can you get in your Japanese car with your Russian friend, drive to Little Ethiopia, then get some Chinese food served to you by a Armenian waiter and a Mexican bus boy? LA is a beautiful patchwork quilt of varied cultures, languages, and art. You can find just about any cuisine you crave, find someone who speaks almost any language, and find someplace where you fit in no matter how peculiar your interests/style/activities may be. Some could say this takes away from a singular identity for the city, but I think it just makes it more colorful. Which is never a bad thing in my book.

The Getty– Probably one of the most amazing spaces I’ve ever seen. Beautiful architecture, stunning gardens, tranquil fountains, and incredible art exhibits. It also sports a stunning view of Los Angeles, hosts lectures, touring exhibits, and films. The only negative part is that you can’t spend everyday there.

Pretty Women– Los Angeles is filled with pretty women. I won’t say beautiful, I think beautiful implies much more than just good looks. But there are a ton of good looking women here in LA. I think it’s actually the leading cause of neck injuries and car accidents in LA county. Where else do you get the perfect storm of actresses/models living in an image driven culture where it’s easy to stay fit and healthy. But as I say: the world is filled with pretty women, and pretty women are usually full of it.

Los Feliz– I LOVE my neighborhood. I think it was one of the only things that kept me sane here in LA. It’s not by the beach, it’s not particularly big or buzzing, but it’s my hood. There are restaurants, bars, a coffee shop, a bookstore, a movie theatre, yoga studios, dry cleaners, and a grocery stores all within walking distance. How many places in LA can you say you can walk to all of those places? Plus you have the Greek theatre, Griffith Park, and the Observatory just North. The metro Red Line just South. And close distance to other fun neighborhoods like Silverlake, Hollywood, and Downtown (yes, I said Downtown is fun).

Griffith Park– Being more a mountain and forest guy this place was my sanctuary. It is one of the largest urban parks in North America. Within its boundaries you’ll find golf courses, hiking trails, wild life, a merry-go-round, a zoo, and on a really calm day you might even get a whiff of fresh air if you’re lucky. Griffith Park also houses the Observatory. A beautiful white building with interesting intergalactic science exhibits, a planetarium, and one of my favorite views of the city.

The Rings and Acro Green in Santa Monica– Sadly I just discovered this place this year, but it has quickly turned into one of my favorite places to play in LA. Just south of the Santa Monica pier is a fantastic playground for adults. They have swings, ropes, parallel bars, and my favorite- the rings. Four large metal arches support ten or so rings held in place my metal chains. The object of the thing is to swing from one ring to the next, and then back. Every Sunday you’ll find acrobats, ex-gymnasts, trapeze artists, aerialists, and other free-spirited characters out there playing. Not only on the rings, but on the acro greens just nearby. There you can find capoeira, acro yoga, tumbling, fire twirling, hippy dancing, and almost any other play you can think of. I only wish more cities had these kinds of play grounds for grown-ups.

In summary I will miss parts of LA. I may hate from time to time, and I may be moving, but there are plenty of fond memories I will be bringing with me to my next destination. Its been real LA.

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