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Hidden Los Angeles: San Francisco is a boutique shop. LA is a TJ Maxx.
June 18, 2009 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Los Angeles is home to approximately 3.8 million people in 498.3 square miles (1,290.6 km2). There are plenty of reasons to hate LA, but there are also reasons to love the City of Angels. Hidden Los Angeles is a treasure map to the second largest city in the US, charting upcoming events, local trends, and in-depth features. [via mefi projects]
posted by filthy light thief (54 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a growing project, which started couple questions to AskMe.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:26 PM on June 18, 2009


I enjoyed this comment from the "plenty of reasons" link:

I'm sorry. Do you live there? If you do I suggest that you leave as soon as you can. I know exactly what you mean. My entire family was raised in LA. My stupid shallow "Hollywood" Grandma worked at the post office for 20 years and now shes retired. I see her all the time hanging out at the trendy supermarket getting food and stuff. What a shallow bitch. Oh well, that's a hollywood phony for you. Don't even get me started on my other relatives. There's a dentist, a couple teachers, a housewife that used to be a stockbroker (of course), and even me! I fix x-ray machines all throughout this fake city so that self absorbed beverly hills assholes can get their broken arms fixed. ... As far as traffic is concerend you're right on. I mean come on! I've been to big cities all over the country. NY, Chicago, SF, DC, and traffic there is a total breeze. Folks in Philly were so helpful during mid day traffic that they even offered me directions to where my head was at the time. ... The one thing I hate about this awful city, more than anything else, is that it's completely filled with folks from other parts of the country (NY, midwest, south, etc) that just love to spend thier time bitching about how everyone in the this city that they moved to is sooooo fake, the city sucks, traffic is too much, etc. Why cry about it instead of just moving? I guess it's just fashionable. How shallow and fake.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:27 PM on June 18, 2009 [11 favorites]


I like! Very well done.
posted by ericb at 1:36 PM on June 18, 2009


I was born there, in the ornate old County General Hospital building on State Street. I lived in the area (mostly) until I was in my early 20s, and my sister's still there. I would never live there again, even if I could afford to, but there really is no place in the world like Los Angeles. Absolutely no place. I got married on Malibu Beach in November and it was one of the most magical moments of my life.
posted by blucevalo at 1:37 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Very cool.
posted by zarq at 1:37 PM on June 18, 2009


Every city in the world has obvious, cliche things to hate about it, and less obvious really awesome things about it. That's just how cities are.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:45 PM on June 18, 2009


Cal Worthington and his dog, Spot.

Awesome.
posted by snsranch at 1:54 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, DecemberBoy, but it does seem like LA gets disproportionately dumped on compared to other big cities, and I'm kind of on the fence about this fact. It really raises my hackles when people don't seem to be aware that Venice Beach and the Standard in Hollywood do not = the entirety of Los Angeles, but if that perception keeps some shitbreakfast out of my city, I'm all for it. LA = horrible! Tila Tequila and I hang out every night and snort coke off of babies' genitalia!
posted by queensissy at 2:02 PM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Every city in the world has obvious, cliche things to hate about it, and less obvious really awesome things about it. That's just how cities are.

As noted by Muffpub in one of the AskMe threads, a lot of "California" stereotypes get focused on Los Angeles. Fake people, too much traffic, unreasonably large city. Get away from this epicenter, and everyone else is categorized as laid-back (lazy) surfers. I guess those are focusing on the people, but the people make the place what it is. You don't visit a big city for the liveliness and vitality (or get away from it all in the slow-paced small-town lifestyles) based on the architecture.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:05 PM on June 18, 2009


The list of food trucks that use twitter is missing a lot--you might want to check this post on laist.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:08 PM on June 18, 2009


Hating L.A. keeps it safely off of the list of places that I'm wistful about never having lived. Don't ask me to give that up! That list is too long already!
posted by gurple at 2:18 PM on June 18, 2009


Do you live there? If you do I suggest that you leave as soon as you can. I know exactly what you mean. My entire family was raised in LA. My stupid shallow "Hollywood" Grandma worked at the post office for 20 years and now shes retired. I see her all the time hanging out at the trendy supermarket getting food and stuff. What a shallow bitch....

"Drove up a newcomer in a covered wagon:

'What kind of folks live around here?'

'Well, stranger, what kind of folks was there in the country you come from?'

'Well, they was mostly a lowdown, lying, thieving gossiping, backbiting kind lot of people.'

'Well, I guess, stranger, that's about the kind of folks you'll find around here.'

And the dusty gray stranger had just about blended into the dusty gray cottonwoods in a clump on the horizon when another newcomer drove up:

'What kind of folks live around here?'

'Well, stranger, what kind of folks was there in the country you come from?'

'Well, they was mostly a decent, hardworking, lawabiding, friendly lot of people.'

'Well, I guess, stranger, that's about the kind of folks you'll find around here.'"



I do think you can have real problems in a local culture, and I absolutely believe the culture of a place can fit some people better than it fits others... so I don't necessarily go as far as Sandburg's laconic protagonist might in implying that clashes with people in a place are simply a reflection of trouble within. And yeah, I can (and sometimes do) talk trash about LA. But at the same time, the pile-on dumping on it and the metonymy of Hollywood or Disneyland or OC suburbia for the area as a whole rings false for me. I had a really good time living there, I met all kinds of people from real thugs to glossy image-obsessed people to just plain folks. I found some aspects of the place delightful. Don't know if I'll live there again, but I think about it. Visiting Southern California still makes my heart lift a bit. At least until I get stuck in traffic.
posted by weston at 2:19 PM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


3.8 million people? That's it? And that's enough to make it the second largest city in America?
posted by fairmettle at 2:26 PM on June 18, 2009


Excellent idea for a site.

That said, I admire you moxie too. I've lived here for over 20 years, and I still find new stuff (partly because there's so little respect for the old here that it's constantly getting replaced with the new). I am genuinely curious to see what it is that I'll find on the site that was "hidden" to me about LA.

So thanks. Bookmarked, to be revisited at a future date, when it is fully stuffed with the "hidden" stuff, which I assume will come at some point not too far from now.
posted by VikingSword at 2:30 PM on June 18, 2009


Yeah, DecemberBoy, but it does seem like LA gets disproportionately dumped on compared to other big cities

Just because it's the second biggest, and because it's portrayed in so many movies and TV shows and Warren Zevon records, allowing people who don't really know anything about it to think they do. Same thing with NYC.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:32 PM on June 18, 2009


The city of Los Angeles is a weird patchy blob of 3.8 million people. It's better to think in terms of Los Angeles county. Or the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:37 PM on June 18, 2009


3.8 million people? That's it? And that's enough to make it the second largest city in America?

That's just counting within the LA city limits, and not the tons of outlying suburbs that everyone thinks of as part of LA, like Inglewood, Glendale, Beverly Hills, etc. Wikipedia says the actual city has a population of 3.8 million, but the LA Metro Area (counting all those suburbs) has a population of 12.9 million.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:38 PM on June 18, 2009


Angels. I didn't find it to be that exactly, but I'll allow as there are some nice folks there. 'Course, I can't say I seen London, and I never been to France, and I ain't never seen no queen in her damn undies as the fella says. But I'll tell you what, after seeing Los Angeles and thisahere story I'm about to unfold--wal, I guess I seen somethin' ever' bit as stupefyin' as ya'd see in any a those other places, and in English too, so I can die with a smile on my face without feelin' like the good Lord gypped me.
posted by The World Famous at 2:40 PM on June 18, 2009


I lived in LA for eight years of my childhood, and I cannot wait to go back for good. My parents were both born and raised there, some of my grandparents were even born and raised there. I am enormously envious of my stepbrother and stepsister for having been raised there. I don't like that I moved away as a kid and lost my very rare status as a native.

As for why I love LA, well, I can't say it better than the writer of BLDGBLOG did in this love letter to the city.
posted by amelioration at 2:43 PM on June 18, 2009


Nice project. I believe there's a connection between the reasons given for "hating LA" that is often missed:

Constant influx of excessive numbers of morons, druggies and drunks wanting to get famous/rich/popular specifically in industries not known for valuing intelligence or any kind of literacy + a region purposely designed to be a suburban wasteland = insane traffic (pass in the emergency lanes); rudeness (unless you're spending big money of course); unchecked gang violence (see excessive number of morons); exorbitant rents, home prices and cost of living (see also: morons, taking advantage of)

Other large cities have similar problems, but not to the extent LA and LA's culture seems to have. It is a formula for success but the bad kind of success, to me at least.

Cal Worthington hidden though? No way.
posted by peppito at 2:47 PM on June 18, 2009


Fucking excellent.
posted by lalochezia at 2:50 PM on June 18, 2009


I Love LA
posted by caddis at 2:51 PM on June 18, 2009


At least I have her love
The city she loves me

posted by caddis at 2:52 PM on June 18, 2009


The traffic here (in LA) is nothing compared to DC or Boston. Just saying.
posted by The World Famous at 2:52 PM on June 18, 2009


El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula, por favor.
posted by carsonb at 3:34 PM on June 18, 2009


The traffic here (in LA) is nothing compared to DC or Boston. Just saying.

Um...according to one of Texas Transportation Institute annual studies of traffic, congestion and mobility in U.S. cities, in 2008
"Los Angeles ...top[ped] the Texas Transportation Institute's (TTI) list for the worst traffic in the United States. Films, television shows and songs have all poked fun at the City of Angels' traffic issues. And despite what you might have learned from the television show '24,' you can't get anywhere in Los Angeles from anywhere else in the span of 15 minutes. In fact, Los Angeles' travel time index is 1.92, meaning you should plan for a trip during peak hours to take nearly twice as long as it would at an off-peak time of day."
And, according to INRIX's National Traffic Scoreboard, L.A. ranks as Worst Metro Area (100%), New York as #2 (87%) and Boston as #10 (27%) for traffic and congestion.
posted by ericb at 3:37 PM on June 18, 2009


Oh ... and Washington DC ranks #5 (36%) in the INRIX study.
posted by ericb at 3:40 PM on June 18, 2009


I respectfully disagree with the Texas Transportation Institute. And I'm always right, so . . .
posted by The World Famous at 3:40 PM on June 18, 2009


Corrrection: Boston is actually #8 in National Congestion Rank.
posted by ericb at 3:42 PM on June 18, 2009


...that's why you're world famous!
posted by ericb at 3:42 PM on June 18, 2009


From amelioration's link:

L.A. is the apocalypse: it's you and a bunch of parking lots. No one's going to save you; no one's looking out for you. It's the only city I know where that's the explicit premise of living there – that's the deal you make when you move to L.A.
The city, ironically, is emotionally authentic.


Yeah, pretty much. It probably takes a special kind of person to see why that's a good thing, though.
posted by Justinian at 3:45 PM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh wow. I only designed the thing a few days ago! Awesome! :)

You guys have made my day.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:30 PM on June 18, 2009


Wonderful. Thanks, miss lynnster & filthy light thief.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:33 PM on June 18, 2009


I want to make something a little clear though... I don't think Cal Worthington is hidden. That's not the point. I'm also focusing on the things that make it iconic to the locals. Most of the tourism industry here is focused on things like Hollywood and Highland and Universal Studios. People come here and leave without seeing a thing about what this place is really about. Any person who grew up here is going to smile when you sing "Go see Cal." It's a part of the heart of this place and *that's* the hidden Los Angeles. The heart of LA is not Perez Hilton and crotch-flashing starlets in traffic jams.

One thing that strikes me about this place is how many people will live in an apartment for ten years and have NO CLUE what surrounds them. People will move here and be too intimidated to leave their comfort zones, take the easy road and complain about LA and how they have no money for a vacation... but without having ever explored their own surroundings. I guess I just wanted to do something positive to encourage people to step outside and look around with a better attitude.

Life's short and this place is filled with awesome if you want to find it. It's also filled with suck if you want to find it.

And BTW, LA County population as of June 2008 was around 9,862,049.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:50 PM on June 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


LA is awesome. People who bitch about it have no idea what they are talking about. The people are outgoing, friendly, and hospitable. Way more so than here in Seattle. The food is great. The music is vibrant. The art scene is alive. Incredible and diverse culture. There is a ton of reasonably priced shit to do 24/7. And, of course, the weather is great. There is no reason to ever be bored or lonely in LA.

You want an example of how awesome that place is? My wife was down there a couple months ago for business. She was invited out by our clients to a gallery show but was kinda bummed because the client had to split early to take home her kids — my wife didn't really know anybody and was kinda broke and was thinking of bailing. Nobody let her stay bummed for long. From there she was "abducted" by a group of women — total strangers — who took her out to a five star restaurant, paid, then took her to another rock show, paid, took her to some celeb party, took her out to a club for snacks, paid, then took her back to her hotel. Two weeks later two of these wonderful gals showed up here, called us, and we took them out and had a mad time. A couple weeks after that they invited us down to San Francisco to restaurant opening which they put us up in their huge hotel suite from which we scored a client.

I dunno. Stuff like has been more the rule than the exception for my experiences down in LA.
posted by tkchrist at 4:50 PM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah L.A. is great except for: the mayor, the economy, the budget crisis, when the Lakers win, when the teachers go on hunger strike, etc.
posted by ornate insect at 5:41 PM on June 18, 2009


Isn't it amazing that NONE of those things ever happen in any other city?

Yep... you are the *exact* reason I decided to create the damn site, Debbie Downer.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:47 PM on June 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I was not trying to bash or pick on L.A. in my comments above. Fwiw, as an occasional visitor of many years, I very much like the city, find it vital and energizing, and tend to defend it, warts and all, against nay-sayers. But I think there is an emerging consensus, even among those who like L.A. in particular and CA in general, that both city and state are undergoing some difficult times. I don't think L.A.'s future is as bleak as Detroit's, but I see no reason to downplay the challenges ahead. That is all.
posted by ornate insect at 5:57 PM on June 18, 2009


Wow, great stuff!
posted by klangklangston at 6:17 PM on June 18, 2009


Who's downplaying? The whole NATION is struggling right now. People are depressed. Speaking for myself, I'm the poorest I've been since college... which was a long time ago and so that's freaking me the Hell out. But does wallowing in it and focusing on the negative make things so much better? Well if you're a masochist, then yeah.

Life's short. I don't know about you, but I'd rather focus on the things that bring me pleasure since I can't control the rest of it. And that's the whole point of the site. You can't control a lot of the crap going on around you, so get off your ass, take a walk and focus on finding things in your environment that make you happy. Walk outside. Open your eyes. Look around. Live life. The bad things aren't going anywhere, so why not find a little balance by seeking out things that make life more pleasant?

I am at a loss to see how that could be, in any way shape or form, seen as a bad idea. Ever. It's not something I've ever done and regretted. Sitting in front of the tv and getting increasingly depressed over television news, on the other hand, is something I've regretted many times. I started this web site to force MYSELF to go outside just as much as anyone else.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:17 PM on June 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


On another note... I'm planning to do some community activism stuff on there too so keep an eye out for that. Got lots of different ideas mulling around... right now I'm pitching to have the kids at 826LA have their own reoccurring column to talk about growing up in Los Angeles.

It seems promising, and if we can swing it that column should be an awesomely fun read. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 6:21 PM on June 18, 2009


miss lynnster: I like the website, I was not trying to be a downer, and I agree it's important to not allow oneself to get depressed about the state of the world, etc. By all means, if the news is depressing, turn it off. If one can stomach it it's also occasionally good to stay informed, even if the news is bleak. While I agree the whole country is suffering in some ways it is not doing so evenly. The importance and size of California's economy make its unprecedented budget woes, political gridlock, and real-estate bust noteworthy (in my opinion). That is all.
posted by ornate insect at 6:31 PM on June 18, 2009


One thing that strikes me about this place is how many people will live in an apartment for ten years and have NO CLUE what surrounds them.

This is something that's true for many cities. I live in a lovely little coastal community of California, and in my years of college I never ventured to further than the town I lived in. Only now that I travel around for work have I seen more.

I wish there sites like this for more communities. There are treasures in most communities, if you know where to look.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:59 PM on June 18, 2009


There are treasures in most communities,

Absolutely! And I'm thankful that you posted this up on the blue. L.A. is a beautiful city and county and I'm sure that as miss lynnster"s site grows it'll be a great guide to find even more treasure there.

If we're gonna talk California budget woes etc., someone should probably make an FPP about it.

Talking to you ornate insect, with respect of course.
posted by snsranch at 7:35 PM on June 18, 2009


But I think there is an emerging consensus, even among those who like L.A. in particular and CA in general, that both city and state are undergoing some difficult times.

Personally I'm kind of hoping the "difficult times" make everyone go the hell back where they came from and leave CA a bit more affordable and less congested. So yes- LA sucks, SF sucks, in fact the entire state sucks. We have Arnold Schwarzenegger for a governor for Gods sake. And earthquakes.

Whatever you do don't move here. And if you moved here in the past 10 years and are thinking of moving back home I recommend you do it asap.
posted by fshgrl at 8:03 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


ooh since I came here in 97 I get to stay??
posted by flaterik at 8:15 PM on June 18, 2009


I live near L.A. now, and used to live and work in L.A. Yes, you can cover a good distance in L.A. in 15 minutes, if you know which streets to use and when. L.A. definitely does not deserve the bad rap it gets, but on the other hand, it's fun to play up the whole L.A. stereotype.

The traffic is bad because it's heavy, but the people are in general the most courteous drivers I have ever seen anywhere, and I really mean that. When you are in 5-mile-an-hour-stop-n-go traffic, you can actually get over the five lanes you need to to make your off ramp, because people are so courteous. Go to a smaller city where that kind of traffic is not the norm and try to get over three lanes in the same distance, you'll get screamed at, cut off, and a nice middle finger thrown your way. Dallas, I am talking about you.

I grew up in Texas. I heard the Rust Belt refugees in the 1970s piss and moan about how hot Texas was and how strangers would talk to them and how people had rifles and ate catfish and jalapeno peppers. Texans would generally politely tolerate the criticisms, knowing that every word of it meant that the whining pissant would eventually up and leave. I won't do that to my adopted home state of California - if I had that much to complain about, well, I know which way Route 10 goes from Santa Monica.

The people are swell, the weather is great, there is plenty of work if you work at getting it, and there is more to see and do than you can see and do in an entire lifetime. Don't tell anybody, but the earthquakes cause far less damage than tornadoes and hurricanes. There are no cockroaches where I live, and damn few biting insects of any kind. It's a cliche that you can ski and surf the same day, but it's true. And - at least until Texas figures out what a tri-tip is - I'll be staying right here.
posted by Xoebe at 9:46 PM on June 18, 2009


I'm an east coast guy, a chronic New Yorker and I grew up with all the prejudices about LA that comes with that kind of big city provincialism. Yet, every time I go to LA I have a better time and like it more and more, to the point where when someone makes fun of LA in that boring, generalizing way that tedious insecure New Yorkers (usually imports) do, I tend to just say "You're bullshit." And then I walk away.

My favorite LA story: I was in LA for business, staying in North Hollywood in some sleezo hotel and one night we got really bored and walked down the street and went into the craziest skid row wino bar I've ever seen, I mean they literally only served cans of beer and fortified wine. Ancient hookers, dudes with that burnt in permanent dirt that twenty years of homelessness gets you, not a whole lot of teeth. It didn't feel particularly threatening though or that we weren't welcome so we had a few pops and then out of nowhere music comes on and this mushy singing starts "Do dee doo doo do do do, do dee do do do", this Filipino dude, tiny, ass-out drunk but very present and committed is singing Miss You by the Stones and I mean wow it's fucking preposterous and yet it's somehow funny and perfect and awesome in a totally sincere way. We're in a dead ender karaoke bar. The guy finishes singing, everybody buys him a drink and we all sing karaoke for the next three hours, one of the best nights of my life I think, dark dark romance.

I really like LA, not the douchebag part -but I kinda think that even the douchebags secretly don't like that part- the weird run down parts, the burger spots, the El Caminos and Korean BBQ spots and the people, especially the people that grew up there. I think LA is uniquely American (not that there aren't other different unique Americas all over the country) and a very special and powerful place.

That same trip I got Ron Jeremy's autograph on an In-N-Out Burger wrapper at two in the morning.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:26 AM on June 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Okay, Divine_Wino... you *get* LA and all its weirdness. Nice story.

The first time I ever really watched karaoke was at a place called Chuy's in Glendale. It was HORRIBLE. A bunch of drunk Mexican girls with fake nails singing Celine Dion. Then suddenly a guy walked in off the street. And I mean OFF THE STREET. He was clearly homeless and I think he was white, but he looked like Grizzly Adams had just rolled in an oil pan so it was hard to tell. He walked up to the signup sheet and selected a song. They called him up to the stage and I kid you not, that man did the most AWESOME (and Southern-accented, no less) version of "The Spy Who Loved Me" that I will ever hear. I will never forget it. He was an absolute superstar for three minutes, the happiest man on the Earth. Then he walked out the door, disappearing back into the street.

God I love those moments. Ever since then I've always looked at homeless guys and tried to imagine what song they would choose if they sang karaoke.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:35 AM on June 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ron Jeremy - In-N-Out
posted by caddis at 8:18 AM on June 19, 2009


Ron made it very clear that he wanted me to appreciate all the multi-layered puns that where swirling around us, VERY CLEAR!
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:46 AM on June 19, 2009


Cool site by the way miss lynnster.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:17 AM on June 19, 2009


Okay, this thread is so far giving me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Thank you miss lynnster and filthy light thief and everyone who has or will share an awesome story about my hometown.

And to add a frequently-overlooked song about L.A., Robbie Williams's Hot Fudge:

The Holy Ghost and the whole East Coast are moving to L.A.
posted by tyrantkitty at 3:19 PM on June 21, 2009


Good. I'm glad. People should be allowed to be proud of where they came from without apology!!!! I remember when I was in my 20s I used to tease people for being from the Midwest. I can guarantee you that I no longer do that. Ever. Major lesson learned.

That's why I created the site. Native Southern Californians have absolutely nothing to apologize for. The locals here, we've done nothing wrong. For that matter, the "noted Los Angelenos" people hate? AREN'T EVEN FROM HERE!!! Perez Hilton? From Florida. Lindsay Lohan, Phil Spector and Paris Hilton? All from New York. O.J. Simpson? Bay area.

Now, I was born in San Diego myself... but you know who was born in Los Angeles? Beck. Adlai Stevenson. Albert Brooks. Danny Elfman. John Ritter. James Ellroy. Dr. Dre. Etta James. Harry Shearer. Judge Wapner. Oscar de la Hoya. Carol Burnett. T. Bone Walker. Willis Lamb (Nobel prize winning physicist). Paul Walker. Sally Ride... the list goes on.

Unfortunately you'll have to delete the validity of about half of them to make up for the fact that Spencer Pratt was born here, though. But trust me, we can't figure out why he's on tv either... everyone hates the guy.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:35 PM on June 21, 2009


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