A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 57: N.Y. Makes S.F. Guy Rethink L.A.

August 22nd · 6 Comments

I drove around Los Angeles today, doing research for a magazine story I am writing about trash. In addition to getting a tan, I gleaned an insight into how living in New York is changing my opinions about California’s two city-states, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

So you New Yorkers can make sense of it, let me tell you a little about the San Francisco Bay Area, my homeland. It is a marvelously diverse place, but in spite of that diversity there are a couple of things that almost everyone agrees on:

1) The race, religion, lifestyle, ideology and sexual preferences of your neighbor, up to and including his/her right to enter into domestic partnership with a sexually confused Schnauzer, are to be tolerated and even celebrated, unless that person is a Republican.

2) Los Angeles is a horrid, smog-choked wasteland whose residents spend half their time waiting in traffic and the other half getting their hair highlighted, and the whole place would have been tossed into the Pacific long ago if only breast-implant silicone were not a known carcinogen to salmon.

As a child of the Bay Area I have long shared these beliefs, and so as I drove south on Interstate 405, a freeway I have always detested, I experienced a disquieting amount of pleasure.

I hate I-405 because the traffic is always terrible and the smog is palpable and once I was nearly struck by a ladder that fell off the back of a pool-cleaning truck. But today traffic was light and I drove at 75 miles an hour, a speed I could attain in Manhattan only by helicopter, and the sun shone down on five enormously spacious lanes that seemed like freedom itself.

My destination that afternoon was Manhattan Beach (named in 1901 by a homesick East Coast transplant) where I had been told I would find enough plastic drinking straws and Styrofoam cups to fill me with indignation. But there was no trash on Manhattan Beach.

Just a strip of sand, wide as fifteen MTA buses, dotted with easygoing girls in scant bikinis and Mexican boys boogie-boarding in the surf and healthy-looking older couples pedaling down the bike path. The air was warm but modulated by a delicious sea breeze, and as I listened to the children shout from under the pier, I thought how wonderful it was that I didn’t have to wear a jacket and hat like I do in the foggy San Francisco summer, and how I wasn’t sweating through my shirt, the way I do in New York.

Maybe I could tolerate L.A. after all.

Good God – what am I saying?

I’ve got to move out of New York before it turns me into a Republican too.

Tags: East Coast v. West Coast · Getaways · Sights & Scenes

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 sam iam // Aug 22, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    we better quit thinking republican vs democrat…they are two sides of the same coin. we ought to think freedom vs tyranny and elect the person who is bst going to honor their oath to support and defend the Constitution. It’s the only thing that limits government power. Unfortunately, between barack and mccain there is no choice. Talk about throwing your vote away!

  • 2 Jay // Aug 22, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Vote for Obama before you lose your mind, please. Good grief, only two months and you’re talking about needing to get out of The Apple…? Well, I usually only make it for a week before I have the claustrophobic fit you described a few days ago! Hang in there, and keep on bloggin, dude.

  • 3 Helen // Aug 22, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    aspects of LA are great, you just have to know where to look. i think manhatten beach is one of them – lovely promenade. i never mind visiting. living? well…

  • 4 Steve // Aug 23, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    I have to put a plug in for Pasadena and the San Gabriel mountains, a stones throw away. Where in a few minutes hiking you would never know that the metropolis of LA was anywhere around.

  • 5 Sulley // Aug 23, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Republicans are all around you David, they are the ones silently listening to everyone else boasting about their open mindedness. The louder they rattle their chains, the more liberated they feel.

  • 6 Mara and Bharath // Aug 24, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    My, haven’t we touched off a sensitive nerve here. 🙂
    Hey, I heard of this statistic that your affiliation (vis a vis Rep/Dem) is correlated with the average distance to your neighbors. The larger the distance is, the more likely you’re to be a Rep (and vice versa).
    So, surely, a place like New York ain’t gonna convert you.
    And besides, I am learning that they’re actually people. Like this one guy that I know (flaming republican) actually has seasonal allergies! Can you believe that?

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