Southern California is for suckers
April 7, 2009 7:55 PM   Subscribe

Tree of Bees? Hills that move? A reflective humorous post about living in Southern California via
posted by will wait 4 tanjents (63 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of shitty, cliched criticism of L.A. makes me angry, but this guy isn't even close to being a good enough writer to provoke any emotion at all.

posted by drjimmy11 at 8:00 PM on April 7, 2009 [5 favorites]

I'm sorry? All of that is true. We considered moving to LA around 2000 (from UK) and I looked at a bunch of places in Topanga but the coyotes, the mudslides, the earthquakes and the wildfires gave us pause. Then there was the complete lack of good role models for the kids.

So instead we moved to the top of a hill in Canada. Today, following a fakeout spring thaw, we got 50cm of wet snow. My wife, on the way to her OB/Gyn appointment, got stuck in the huge pile of snow at the end of the drive deposited there by the snowplow. I'd already taken the blower off the tractor, and the tractor battery was flat, so after breaking two tow ropes with my truck, I found the generator, fired it up, and charged the battery. Tried to mount the snowblower but the driveshaft was frozen solid. Managed to get the tractor through the snowdrifts and the 30 degree incline on the field out onto the road and dug through 5' of wet snow with the bucket, then finally dug out the wheels of my wife's truck manually with a shovel. At that point the postman arrived and he sat in the truck while I pulled it out using a come-along as a tow-rope, since I'd destroyed everything else. My wife finally made her appointment three hours late, but by the time she got back the driveway had filled in again due to the blowing snow.

So, yeah, LA sucks (but I do love to visit).
posted by unSane at 8:10 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

What a pussy. Sounds like he'd hate Australia
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:17 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well, in Norway eggs are a dollar a piece. He'd die within a week.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:18 PM on April 7, 2009

I know all I need to know about California from Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. Find a fresh topic, guys.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:25 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also this guy is a fucking crybaby. Go cry to your momma, you big baby.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:26 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Harsh crowd tonight. Perhaps a round of drinks are in order?
posted by will wait 4 tanjents at 8:33 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

Hilarious - but it does get chilly. At the beach. Where it's freezing, almost all the damn time. They call it the "June Gloom" here. It's awful. February, the weather is awesome. But it's still too cold to go in the water, and if you do ever go into the water, you'll understand why it's so damn cold at the beach.

The local chain grocery sells eggs for about $2.79. For an 18-pack. And all the 18-packs are buy one, get one free. We eat a lot of eggs. Organic eggs run about $4.79 a dozen.

I love the mudslides. I love how people build houses on huge, barren, nearly vertical slopes that are clearly unconsolidated alluvial deposits. My brother-in-law came out from Texas, where the geology is karst-limestone, and he was all "Daaaaammmn. The hills here are made of dirt!"

All of that and more, but I really love SoCal, traffic, smog, and all.
posted by Xoebe at 8:33 PM on April 7, 2009

I live in SoCal, and I only realize it's a desert after short stints in, say, Virginia. And you know what? I still love the place. And I love snowboarding and surfing on the very same day. Yeah, really. Only wusses can't adjust.
posted by Xere at 8:34 PM on April 7, 2009

It sounds like this guy must've lived way the fuck out in the desert in one of those "exurbs", or whatever they're calling them now. I'm sure those places do indeed suck. Nonetheless, this guy is a terrible writer.
posted by equalpants at 8:36 PM on April 7, 2009

The best part is that this dude didn't even realize he was living on a set.

Yes, that's right: we roll out sets for the out-of-towners, creating a sort of simulacrum SoCal, filled with lame-o cliches and populated with extras to spout additional lame-o cliches. Brilliantly, most people fall for it every time, and thus they don't stick around long enough to see the set roll away and discover what it's really like here and why it's so secretly awesome. Then they leave forever and post self-congratulatory third-rate blog entries about "cost of living" and "heat" and "traffic" and think that they're making some sort of original, trenchant observation about 10 million people, and we're saddled with one less jackass to fight over parking with. Everybody wins!
posted by scody at 8:42 PM on April 7, 2009 [6 favorites]

I'm sorry, but this is some pretty weak sauce.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:45 PM on April 7, 2009

Flagged -- not even funny enough to be on Cracked
posted by Damn That Television at 8:49 PM on April 7, 2009

It's called gross exageration for comedic effect. I laughed. Not a good writer? OK fine, go re-read Joan Didion.
posted by longsleeves at 8:50 PM on April 7, 2009

What a loser. Are you serious? Coyotes and spiders in Burbank? OOOOOOOOOOOOH why don't you get the fuck out of Burbank, then? It's not that nice. I live 1000 steps from the beach in a 200 year old town and I have pints of strawberries already. SoCal is a big place. Sounds like he didn't notice that.

Burbank. HA!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:00 PM on April 7, 2009

Yeah, I went looking for this to be a self-link. It's that lame.

Seriously, he lived in a place where normal insurers wouldn't cover houses due to wildfire? Hey asshole, don't fucking live there!

Look, a year and a half in, SoCal is expensive, competitive, full of twice as many people as it should be. The herds of tourists here queue up like they're waiting for a bolt through their brain.

That said, there's world class art, music, film, food, theater, surfing and camping all within five miles of my house. The only other place I could have the same level of awesome all around me is New York, and New York is also fucking expensive, competitive, full of goddamned tourists and cold on top of it! And the other options—San Fran, DC, Seattle… Well, they're expensive too.

So yeah, if you think that LA is going to be like Peoria only with more Steve Martin, you got sold a bill of goods. On the other hand, you believed that movies are real, which means that you're a goddamned moron and should probably never leave your house anyway.
posted by klangklangston at 9:11 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

Also, yeah, as noted—he lived in the fucking valley. He should be punished by having to watch Suburbia ten times in a row.
posted by klangklangston at 9:12 PM on April 7, 2009

he lived in the fucking valley

My corner of the fucking valley and I will thank you not to use that tone, young man.
posted by scody at 9:16 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

(although of course, I consider my corner of the fucking valley not to really even be the fucking valley anyway; I'm closer to the Hollywood Bowl now than when I actually lived in Hollywood, for gawd's sake.)
posted by scody at 9:18 PM on April 7, 2009

I'd like to hear about this world-class camping...
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:26 PM on April 7, 2009

You know, camping out in front of CBS studios to get on The Price is Right!
posted by scody at 9:28 PM on April 7, 2009

Who the hell is afraid of coyotes?
posted by OolooKitty at 9:35 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

In every other place we’d ever lived, a dozen cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 69 cents.

I moved to California from Kansas where eggs were invented. I don't ever remember paying as little as $0.69 for a dozen.


The Kansas house I grew up in had a massive infestation of lethal brown recluse spiders. I got used to shaking out my clothes every morning, and I still do it. In my seven years in California, I've had one encounter with a black widow. Okay, and there was that time with the tarantula... but I don't keep my laundry OUTSIDE.

And you can’t kill them, either. There’s nothing you can do, except maybe burn the bitch to the ground.

I don't know. Raid did a pretty good job on the bitch in my kitchen. But then, being arachnophobic, I kind of emptied the can on it. Tip: Easy-Off is bizarrely effective for pest control.


Well... yeah. There's those.


News flash! Birds are everywhere! I hear they got 'em in Montana, now!

Mudslides... Wildfires... Earthquakes...

See, that's just not fair.

Continuous heat

It's called summer. There are three other seasons, and some of them require jackets.


Yeah, but our newspaper has air quality reports. Isn't that cool?

Tree of Bees

I recently saw a car partially covered in bees. It was AWESOME. But other than that, I see no more bees than I see anywhere else.

Did this guy move here from an underground silo or something?
posted by katillathehun at 9:38 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

As a native SoCal-ian (5 generations on one side), here is my advice to the newbies:

1) Black widows: either you think they are cool & get a tattoo & keep them as pets or you get creative in killing them on the fly. My fave black widow extermination devices are hair spray (freeze 'em place) or lighter fluid with fire rapidly following (I had a nest of them in the BBQ, what else to do?).

2) Coyotes, hawks, raccoons, ravens, snakes, and possums: How many other of the Top 20 Megaopolis' in the world have their own eco-systems of wildlife deep in the city? Either embrace it and make sure your small dogs & cats & children are inside most of the time unless under supervision or make sure the cinderblock wall around your house is at least six feet (2 metres) tall. One of the things I love about SoCal is the fact that the wildlife is colonizing us.

3) Wildfires? Mudflows? Bah! Move away from the canyons, dude. Bit of advice, please consult a geological map before buying a house. Make sure the house your are purchasing is on bedrock and not alluvial sand. Make sure you are not in a flood plain. Make sure you are not in a tsunami zone (like I am now). Etc. Etc. Etc. If you choose to live a few blocks from the beach or a canyon or a floodplain, get good insurance.

4) Earthquakes.... think of them as a nice random trip to an amusement park rollercoaster without the traffic, parking, sunblock, and barfling kid behind you. Earthquake proof your house, bookmark the site, make sure your emergency pack is ready, have water & cooking oil on hand, and get ready to twitter when the next quake hits. Be the first to let your friends know that an earthquake is happening.

My big question is why did this fellow not state where he lived before moving to the big bad Burbank? Just what utopia did he live in that never had a natural disaster, be they rare or yearly in the US? Here is what we don't have in SoCal: hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms, tornadoes (very rarely, if so then usually weak or offshore), etc etc etc.

Did we mention that February & March can't be beat here in SoCal? ;oP
posted by msjen at 9:49 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I live in SoCal, and I only realize it's a desert after short stints in, say, Virginia.

I'm a SoCal native, went to Virginia for school, and was blown away by how many damn trees are over there. Like, in the highway median that nobodies using for anything, a forest eventually pops up. And when you're out driving on some road, you can't see 5 miles ahead of you like you can in SoCal because the trees are blocking your view.

However, unless you've got small animals that you like to leave outside, I really can't understand anybody having a serious problem with coyotes. I hear 'em yipping right ouside my bedroom window sometimes, but that's all they do - run around and yip at night. They're no big deal.
posted by LionIndex at 9:50 PM on April 7, 2009

Ugh. This actually prompted me to comment, but it's "awaiting moderation," so who knows where it will go. Here's what I wrote:

Right… As a native, it’s people like you who make LA the “shithole” you describe. Imagine scores of assholes moving to your hometown, then shitting on it because they can’t deal with learning how meaningless their lives really are – all the while staying, compounding traffic, and shitting on the city more.

Goodbye, and good riddance, asshole.

That guy can suck it.
posted by Lillitatiana at 9:58 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

So his writing is mockable? Is that it? L.A. is full of really nice people, and it's got a transit system that's hard to beat in the US.
posted by boo_radley at 10:12 PM on April 7, 2009

He's afraid of Black Widows, coyotes, bees and THE WASH???! Lame.

I hope he can find a comfortable climate controlled biodome that has pristine air quality, is completely free of any icky forms of wildlife, will never be threatened by a natural disaster, and is insurable for a reasonable rate.

msjen: that's funny, both my sister and I went through a "oh-look-a-black-widow-lets-keep-it-not-kill-it!" phase. I got over it. :)
posted by starfyr at 10:18 PM on April 7, 2009

I had to leave SoCal because of all the people like this who moved there and then wanted to change it completely because it wasn't like home. They're the idiots who buy brand new overpriced houses and never wonder why the land wasn't built on before. And then they complain about earthquakes and omg, there are animals outside and when it gets really hot and dry it burns! who knew! Save us taxpayers, save us!

Where the fuck do these people come from anyway? An underground silo is a good guess: it would explain merging onto a multi-lane freeway confuses them so. Or why they think a 25lb animals is going to eat their child. Frankly, if your kid can't fight off a coyote it deserves to be eaten.
posted by fshgrl at 10:18 PM on April 7, 2009 [5 favorites]

Frankly, if your kid can't fight off a coyote it deserves to be eaten.

OK, this just made me snort cough syrup through my nose.

(Yes, I drink cough syrup straight out of the bottle while reading Metafilter. It's how we roll in SoCal, yo.)
posted by scody at 10:29 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

I know someone who's dog was eaten by a coyote, but it was a chihuahua she often let run wild, and those things are like popcorn. Even I'm tempted to eat one sometimes.
posted by katillathehun at 10:34 PM on April 7, 2009 [4 favorites]

You just keep on believing all that.
posted by gallois at 10:43 PM on April 7, 2009

And half the vehicles were hybrids, or ran off liposuction fat. So, who the hell knows? Maybe I’ll come down with a bad case of thigh-lung later in life?

I gotta admit...that is funny.
posted by telstar at 10:47 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]



posted by lalochezia at 11:33 PM on April 7, 2009

I guess he didn't realize that the wash is what we use to weed out the weak and unfit. It's not a good SoCal winter storm until some jackass drives into the wash; it's a really good one when the roof of a big-box store collapses.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:46 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I get this in New Zealand. "You idiot, Wellington is on a fault line." Most of the people who get all "moron" about it are from Auckland. Which is built on an active volcanic plateau.

I see the same thing in the states. "Hurf, durf, let Noo Orleans drown, what moron builds there" from hicks in tornado country. So, Cletus, who's rebuilding your shack next twister season?
posted by rodgerd at 12:03 AM on April 8, 2009

The difference is that SoCal locals know not to buy a house that is built on 35 feet of fill where some developer leveled a couple of canyons to make a subdivision.
posted by fshgrl at 12:09 AM on April 8, 2009

On the one hand, the Tree of Bees is sufficient to make me consider moving out of state, and I live in Oakland. On the other hand - GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF MAN! Spiders, coyotes and great big ditch?
You should move back east of the Mississippi, city slicker. Wait till the countryside is settled before you cross the Great Divide.
posted by smartyboots at 12:44 AM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Can I mark this as an "unfavorite?"
posted by rhymer at 2:47 AM on April 8, 2009

I am still passing drinks around to those that need it. Ahem
posted by will wait 4 tanjents at 3:03 AM on April 8, 2009

So his writing is mockable? Is that it? L.A. is full of really nice people, and it's got a transit system that's hard to beat in the US.

This has to be satire, right? Buses that get caught in the same traffic as the cars are stuck in, and 3 train lines for a sprawling city that somehow don't actually stop anywhere that people live or want to go?
posted by explosion at 3:53 AM on April 8, 2009

I laughed. But it's early here and I'm sick and it's April and it's still snowing so making fun of sunny places makes me feel better.
posted by octothorpe at 4:14 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I laughed at the tree of bees. *shivers*

Y'all crazy. Come live in Michigan. Four lovely seasons, extremely affordable, more coastline than California and no bee-trees.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:05 AM on April 8, 2009

I'm usually pretty enthusiastic about making fun of the lower half of the state, but this is just piss poor.

" In every other place we’d ever lived, a dozen cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 69 cents. "

The guy's previous home was either "the inside of a chicken" or "the year 1959" apparently. You can see how he might find socal, or any other place, disorienting.
posted by majick at 6:11 AM on April 8, 2009 [7 favorites]

LA/Burbank/Hollywood is mockable. Like really mockable. Easily mockable. I just don't think this guy has a firm grasp on the whole mock thing.

And having lived in both Montana and SoCal........... Rural life would chew this precious little flower up and excrete him in about 24 hours.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:28 AM on April 8, 2009

Pony Request: Flag Reason: LAME AND ALSO DUMB.
posted by The Whelk at 6:33 AM on April 8, 2009

I was born in So. Cal and lived there until I was 42. I had such a wave of nostalgia while reading this piece that I am nearly in tears. Unless something major happens, I can never afford to go home again and that...hurts.

In Raleigh lemons cost a $1.00 a piece. I love lemons and used to use them in everything because in SoCal I walked out into my backyard and picked them year round. Now I have to ration them like truffles or caviar. Limes are 2 for a $1.00. Avocados are $2.50.

Black Widows. Yeah we have brown recluse spiders here in Raleigh which can cause massive damage, but worse for me are the fire ants. I can't kill all the ants in my yard but in the last 2 years I have been attacked 4 times while weeding which takes some of the fun out of gardening. The bites are seriously unpleasant and leave scars. A few more years of this and I will be one big black spot.

Coyotes don't kill people. Deer kill people. NC has lots of deer and every time we drive back from visiting the folks on the coast, we drive down a looooong country road for miles in the dark on the way to the interstate. Death lurks around every curve. I hate driving country roads in the dark.

Mudslides, Wildfires, Earthquakes
In 42 years these things never affected my family. Here, we have floods and tornadoes.

OMfreakinG. Try one July day here. The humidity is unspeakable. In SoCal when it is the hottest, you can still put on a hat, some sunglasses, and some sun screen and go frolic outside. You can jump in the pool or run through a mister and get instantly refreshed. Here, nothing refreshes-- certainly not getting wet.

The Wash
Ha! I actually grew up in a house that fronted the flood control. And yes we played in it. Here in NC people get killed on the train tracks all the time. The people who drown in the flood control are probably the same people who would be killed by the train if they lived here.

Tree of Bees
That's a joke, right? Everyone else in America is mourning the loss of bees and this joker is whining about having too many? Jeezus. I would love to have a tree of bees.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:00 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

"My corner of the fucking valley and I will thank you not to use that tone, young man."

Better like Penelope Spheeris then.

As for the camping, Topanga Canyon's right around the bend from me. And if we talk about where you can get to in a day, all of the Joshua stuff is open too.

But yeah, we had coyotes in Michigan, along with deadly spiders, rattlesnakes, and bees.

So, I take it all of you are coming to the meet-ups?
posted by klangklangston at 8:12 AM on April 8, 2009

posted by sararah at 8:13 AM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

"Y'all crazy. Come live in Michigan. Four lovely seasons, extremely affordable, more coastline than California and no bee-trees."

Dude, I moved FROM Michigan.

You know what LA doesn't have? Mosquitoes. (Well, they do, and they carry exotic diseases, but in the almost two years here, I've never been bitten once).

Michigan's also got stretches where it gets below zero for months.

Oh, and you either live in Southeast Michigan because you'd like to have more than one ethnic restaurant that's decent, and you deal with the slow collapse of Detroit and the economy, or you live on the west side of the state and have to deal with the Calvinists and pretending that Grand Rapids is a real city. And what's galling when I go back to visit Ann Arbor—the food costs the same amount because Ann Arbor thinks it's a world-class city. The only thing cheaper is the beer!
posted by klangklangston at 8:22 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and eggs are $1.69 a dozen at Trader Joes, and at the farmer's market (not the fake one, but my neighborhood one), they vary from $.99 to $2.50.
posted by klangklangston at 8:24 AM on April 8, 2009

This is strange. People defending LA on MetaFilter. It brings a tear to my eye.

And klangklangston, I'll kindly ask you to lay off the Valley. I was born here. I like it here.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:09 AM on April 8, 2009

You know what LA doesn't have? Mosquitoes.
Oh yeah, forgot about that part of my hate-on for The South. The dryness of CoCal really cuts down on all insect life. Growing up the only time I ever got bitten was when I went camping in the mountains. My first summer in NC was miserable in large part because I was fresh meat.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:44 AM on April 8, 2009

Best day of my life was when I put California in my rearview mirror. And I'm from the OC, which is 100 times better than Burbank.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:45 AM on April 8, 2009

That's not a well-written rant about the unpleasantness of the LA area. That's a well-written rant about the unpleasantness of the LA area.
posted by dersins at 9:55 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seriously, complaining about Burbank is like complaining about getting kicked in the groin repeatedly. Dear out-of-staters: please, please stay away from Los Angeles. We don't want you here. We're doing great just by ourselves, thanks. If you can't find the joy in lunch at the Farmer's Market, a dusk game at Chavez Ravine, and a nightcap on Sunset, you don't have a soul.
posted by mark242 at 11:26 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

One time I was stuck in traffic before the 101 and 110 interchange, and glanced to my left. In a section between the freeways, surrounded by asphalt, concrete and concertina wire coils, someone had stuck a coyote skull on a metal pole, wrapped in barbed wire. That's Los Angeles in a nutshell, and anyone who can't handle that doesn't belong there.

On the other hand, I never had a tree of bees, though we did get bees building a nest in the walls of our apartment. Twice. Stupid insects made me late for a job interview when they swarmed, too. And that's SoCal as well; Every morning is an exercise in saying "Fuck you world, I'm going to do my business here." And every so often the world says "Fuck you too poser, let's see you deal with THIS." And the you deal with it, and go back to work.
posted by happyroach at 11:49 AM on April 8, 2009

I want a tree of bees :(
posted by Kloryne at 12:10 PM on April 8, 2009

The one thing he didn't touch on was the people, but you guys covered that for him.
posted by Mick at 1:53 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

L.A. is full of really nice people, and it's got a transit system that's hard to beat in the US.
4 huge gridlocked freeways (the 10, 5, 405, and 101) are pretty easy to beat actually. LA hasn't had a transit system that was hard to beat since the Red Car shut down.

And are the people speeding past me to get to that next red light 10 seconds sooner the nice ones? Or is it the woman talking on her cellphone, doing her makeup, and driving at the same time? Or is it the guy at Starbucks who only can talk about the script he's been writing for the past 10 years that never goes anywhere?

Southern California, on the whole, is not a bad place. There are nice parts of Orange County (the parts that are not Irvine and Anaheim and the 5) and San Diego is a lovely city. But LA kinda sucks. It was cool in my twenties but it is rapidly losing it's thrill.

And yes, I am cheerfully leaving just as soon as I can scrounge up enough cash to evacuate. The 'locals' are welcome to the place. There are things I will miss but at the end of the day "no mosquitos" and "burger shacks" are not good reasons to stay.
posted by davros42 at 2:57 PM on April 8, 2009

"That's Los Angeles in a nutshell, and anyone who can't handle that doesn't belong there."

For my most recent LA moment, I was at an opening full of mural-sized shots of hyper-saturated green nature in lightboxes, and everyone there was in immaculate suits and cocktail dresses, all facing inwards, gabbing oblivious. Fake, hyper-real nature and schmoozy self-regard? LA, baby.
posted by klangklangston at 3:38 PM on April 8, 2009

9 posts tagged with of and the.
posted by Eideteker at 11:39 AM on April 9, 2009

klang: or you live on the west side of the state and have to deal with the Calvinists and pretending that Grand Rapids is a real city.

you forgot kalamazoo. :P
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:33 PM on April 9, 2009

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