12 May 2015

Los Angeles Ain’t My Town

So I spent a few days in Los Angeles lately due to a conference. While I definitely enjoyed the conference a lot, I clearly did not like the city.

I've been to Los Angeles before, and as far as I can remember, I didn't like it. I was in LA back in 2012, when two good friends of mine got married in the summer. Back then, we rented a car, and used it to roam around town.

Yes, LA is the city of the vehicle. Everyone has a car, and so most of the highway system is rather quite developed. On the other hand, the public transportation system needs plenty of improvement, and most of the people who use it are the working class and poor folks who simply cannot afford a car. It is very different from European cities, where public transportation is definitely a smooth affair.

I stayed near MacArthur Park, which is an immigrant neighborhood. While the Mexican food was indeed authentic, the neighborhood isn't the most visually appealing. Other people would probably think that it is a sketchy and dangerous neighborhood. While I didn't feel danger, I was always alert.

I saw homeless people everywhere, not only in the neighborhood where I was. Even in nicer places in downtown there were people hauling big bags and shopping carts on the sidewalk and spending the night on the streets. It was quite tragic, actually.

You get the impression that people are so conscious of their bodies, and that people are generally shallow. Somehow I saw plenty of those stereotypical folks around town. As a colleague of mine and I were remarking about it, it was a choice between stupid and nice people in LA, or smart and rude people in Berlin.

Overall, it wasn't a city that I had a strong affinity to. It’s not like Boston, or Portland, or Washington DC, or even New York City, which were cities that immediately gave me the impression that I liked them, the moment I set foot on them. LA was a city that I was more than happy to leave and go somewhere else. LA was too flat, had too many cars, and had too many people who acted like they were shallow. I could hardly see myself fitting in.

Thankfully after three days, the conference I was attending was over, and therefore I was more than happy to head to the airport and leave.


  1. I liked it much better than I thought. I like it better than NY, I think. Less crowded, more sun, less... gritty. And surprisingly walkable if you are in the right neighborhood! But my visit was very quick, it was a stopover on the way to Australia (and then on the way back).

    1. Zhu,

      That's the thing, you have to be in the right neighborhood in order to enjoy it, and sometimes, finding the right neighborhood is a little tricky!