Ask the Los Angeles Native

There have been a lot of location based Ask The… threads recently, and I figure I wanted to get on the bandwagon. :wink:

This was actually inspired primarily by Boyo Jim’s silly Ask The American thread and a response from WormTheRead saying he had hoped for a few serious answers. Also, I figure I am a rare breed; many people live in Southern California for years without meeting someone who was actually born and raised here.

So, a little about me:

I am 26 and except for a year I spent in Houston I have lived here my whole life. I have lived all over the city and feel like I know it fairly well, but there are still sections that I know I have never been to. I currently work in what I consider a day job, and it is sort of involved with the film industry. I do not want to be an actor or have anything to do with directly working in the film industry though. My “real” job is working in theatre (not as an actor), which is not something you can really make a living off of in Los Angeles, hence the day job.

I really love my city, it’s my home and I know it better than any place else in the world. And yet, I am hoping to move away in the next 2-3 years since I would like to have kids and don’t want to raise them in Los Angeles if at all possible.

So, questions?

What’s the local rail/subway system like? It’s pretty common for something (TV program/movie) set in NYC to show scenes aboard the subway, but LA, not so much.

Public transport in LA, as a general rule, blows. We have subways, but with the exception of a couple of lines, they don’t go anywhere you would want to go. For a city as large as LA, you can really only access about 10% of it by rail. It’s not good. But it is something we are working on. Our road systems are a big problem and everyone knows it. Traffic is getting worse by the day, but we are starting to run out of space to build new roads. If we don’t get some better public transit in place we are going to be in the middle of non stop gridlock all the time. But there are some serious budget problems, and NIMBY problems, and conflicts between the county board of supervisors, the city hall, and the city council that are slowing the progress down to a crawl.

But as a general rule, if you can’t drive a car you can’t really live here. My sister just moved back home from going to college in Portland and she is finding this to be a rather harsh reality as she never got her license.

I’m a fellow native Angeleno who has never lived anywhere else (not even for a year :wink: ) in my 33 years so far, but I’ll ask a question anyway: where are you looking to move away to? Are you looking for a place with a similar climate? And what will you miss most about being gone?

What’s the best hamburger in L.A.? What’s your favorite weirdo fast food? Have you ever actually taken a bus in L.A.? I’m a native Angeleno (so was my Dad!) and I didn’t take a bus until I was 43 or so. Did you get your driver’s license on your 16th birthday like all my friends?

I disagree. I find our public transit system to be pretty good. Not perfect, but it’s nearly always suited my needs.

Why does your city represent everything that is unholy and wrong with the U.S.?

Okay, that’s a bit of an overstatement, but I’ve always had this (admittedly unfair) conception of L.A. as this superficial and pretentious hellhole of constant heat, greed, drivebys, and traffic. In fact, I believe Patton Oswalt has described L.A. as a “demon cock.”

So tell me about the people. What are the redeeming qualities of the people of L.A.

Can I jump in here? We can drive at 80mph in bumper to bumper traffic, with much less accidents than you’d imagine.

But do you have a car? I do, but I am basing the above on my sister and her trying to get a job in her field (cooking) without having one. It takes her 2 hours to get anywhere that is more than a couple of miles away. For reference she is in Sherman Oaks but the jobs aren’t in the Valley right now. Getting to Pasadena or Santa Monica by bus is hard.

How would you compare and contrast Houston and Los Angeles?

Pasadena by bus is easy from Sherman Oaks, at least during regular business hours. (outside of that I’m not sure) I work in Pasadena and the 549 commuter express makes it an easy ride. I don’t personally own a car and haven’t since 2002. My SO does drive but I take the bus and train most places unless we’re going together since he pretty much refuses to take public transit.

If it’s taking her two hours to get more than a couple miles, she’s not using the system very well. Most of the complaints I’ve heard people make about the public transit system in LA can be fixed by using it properly. I know people that complain that they had to wait 20 minutes for a bus, but on checking with them I discover that they didn’t actually check the schedule to see when that line ran or if there were other options.

Ok, this is a tough one to answer (though Darryl Lict’s response is both awesome and true.)

I will break this one down a bit.

Is LA superficial? I would say no. Is Hollywood (meaning the film industry)superficial? Yes. And it is so by design. They are in the business of selling superficial images. For better or for worse the industry is about style over substance.

Is LA pretentious? Some of it is I guess. There are scenes that can get that way (again, Hollywood can be this way), but I think that catagorizing the whole city by a few of it’s subcultures is a bit unfair.
Heat? It gets hot sometimes. Houston was much worse. I spent a summer in Israel that was much worse. Vegas is worse. Lots of places are worse. On the plus side, I can wear flip flops all year round. It rarely gets below about 45 F here, and can sometimes get to about 100, but most of the year it is between 65 and 90. Again this does vary depending on your location. The Valley, where I live now is about 10 degrees hotter than the rest of the city as a general rule. The ocean comunities are about 10 degrees cooler.

Greed? Too hard for me to quantify. Sorry, I would guess it is about as bad as any other major city in many respects and better that other in some.

Driveby’s happen, but only in relativly small isolated sections of town. Again, my guess would be that at it’s worst it isn’t any worse than other major cities. And as a whole driveby’s aren’t as common as they once were. Other forms of violence seem to be more popular these days. Gang violence happens, but again its a neighborhood thing.

Traffic is bad. Not the worst in the country, but it is bad and getting worse. We live in a car culture out here.

What do the people out here have to recommend them? Having lived here most of my life it’s hard for me to make a comparison. But like I said in my OP (or hinted at) most people who live here are transplants. So the population recommends itself as well as the places the transplants came from. On the whole I find natives to be more friendly and open than people who moved here. Maybe someone else can help me out.

Well, this very well could be her problem. I have little experience with the busses since I have had a car since I was 15, but I use the red line a lot. I live in North Hollywood by the Universal stop and it does make getting into Hollywood easy.

No response to this one?

I actually found them to be very similar. Pointing this out always pissed off the people in Houston, but it was kind of comforting for me. Part of this, I am sure, is because I was working at the Alley Theatre in Houson at the time and so I was surrounded by a diverse group of people from all over. But also the size and general layout of Houston felt a lot like LA. Houston’s downtown (where I spent most of my time) felt a lot like LA. The one thing Houston had that LA doesn’t (as much) was a variety of little neighborhoods. Except for going to and from work, I walked all over the place in Houston, from the grocery store to the local bar. I drove a lot, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of the everyday stuff was done on foot. It’s not that you can’t do that in LA, but you don’t for some reason.

Also, I experienced rain on one side of the street and sunshine on the other for the first time in Houston. I haven’t ever seen that in LA. And Whataburger is in Houston, which I still miss.

Didn’t see it, sorry.

Well it’s a toss up right now. My wife and I are looking at a number of different places since we are on a two year plan for the move. About 2 years ago we tried to just up and move to Seattle and, well stuff happened financially that made us have to cancel the move at the last minute. But Seattle is still on our list. We have also been thinking of moving to Pennsilvania (Lancaster County where she grew up) or Minnesota where she has some family. There is also the possibiltiy of San Fransico where her sisters both live right now, but I think I want to keep the bay area as a place I visit. Also moving there doesn’t solve the major reason we are thinking about leaving, and that is the rising cost of living.

What I will miss most will be the mountains. Before we moved to the Valley we had a place in West Hollywood on the top floor of a 4 story building. From our balcony you could see the mountains and out to the ocean on a clear day. I love the beaches too, but I grew up in the Valley and I think I will miss the mountains and the canyons most.

Slight exaggeration, but true in spirit.

And of course, there’s lane-splitting on motorcycles. :cool:

Lakers or Clippers?

Dodgers or Angels?

Trojans or Bruins?

Rams or Raide…wait a minute…:stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously, do you dig the local sports scene?

Missed this one too.

The best hamburger in LA is from the Apple Pan. I know this is kind of a pat answer, but really it’s true. Lot’s of great burger joints in LA, but none of them hold a candle to the Apple Pan.

I like the Okie Dog for favorite weird fast food. A pastrami and hotdog burrito with chili. Nothing quite like it.

I have taken the bus, but not often. I took the Big Blue Bus around Santa Monica when I was going to school out there, and when I was in high school I took the bus with friends a couple of times, but for the most part I have always had a car or knew someone who did.

And yes, I got my license on my 16th birthday. :smiley:

Man I don’t understand why more states don’t make that legal. I don’t have a bike, but the people who I know that ride bikes and scooters get everywhere so much more easily.