BY 1920 LOS ANGELES had, you might say literally, carved a place for itself as a major city of the United States with aqueducts, crooked politicians, and a film industry booming so hard that it helped to shield Los Angelenos from the great depression. But what does it mean to be a Los Angeleno? It might sound like a trite question, nevertheless we can be sure that it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. San Franciscans call it a dirty word, something to mutter smugly about under their breath. San Diegans think of LA as that place to the north that actually has something to do at night. There’s the ever-present “BEAT LA” sports chant heard not only in California, but around the nation at multiple sporting venues hosting multiple sports. And of course there’s always the mythos of Hollywood, which can range from a global symbol of the United States as a whole to simply what people think all Californians are like. But I guess if we’re seriously trying to comprehend what it is to be “from” LA, we have to ask, “what does it mean to be a Los Angeleno to Los Angelenos?”
If you’re from the West Side, the Valley might not count. But, if you’re from Watts, the West Side might not count. Is Long Beach really in LA, or do people just love Snoop? I mean c’mon, the Angels think that Anaheim is in LA. We all know that can’t be right. It becomes a slippery slope (maybe from all of the KY out in Chatsworth). Do we really want to put the kibosh on our claim to Malibu? Probably not, but it takes less time to get to Rancho Cucamonga from Downtown than it does to get to Malibu.
So maybe LA isn’t so much of a location as a feeling you get, a vibe. When I say that, I don’t mean the vapid narcissism that many would purport to have experienced. I don’t even think that vibe really exists in true Los Angelenos. The vibe I mean is the kinetic stay up all night drinking with friends you only met last year while simultaneously making culture for the masses and love to a beautiful out-of-work model/actress/Subway sandwich artist originally from Minnesota but now living in a shit hole in North Hollywood with two roommates.
Los Angelenos are Culture-Makers. One in six Los Angelenos works in a creative industry. It’s a pedestrian style infused with high fashion. It’s punk rock hot chicks. It’s high socks with baggy Dickies shorts and old school Nikes. It’s nothing and everything at once swirling around southbound on the 405 traveling slower than a bee yet in your face long before you had expected it at your hipster dinner party in Silver Lake. An ocean’s gargled vomit on the shore? I think not, Mr. Meloy.
Some say it’s plastic, but who doesn’t like a nice polymer. And remember what Dustin Hoffman was told in The Graduate? “There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it.” Why are we so prudish anyway? Embrace your conundrum. Whether it’s shiny and new or grimy and vintage, someone in LA has their hands on it. And that’s what’s awesome about it. There are no rules, but you better follow them. Nothing is cool, but you should know what that means. Trends are lame, so follow the right one. It’s a gruesome contradiction that is hard to swallow but will eat you whole. It’s a horse pill not for children but too childish to be adult. XXX but made for the masses. It’s everything you never knew you needed. I love LA.