Jan 3, 2007

I Hate The Westside

A great way to appreciate what you have is to leave it. We were in Oregon, for ten days. And man that place is depressing in the winter. Cold, dark, raining. Moss grows on everything. On your roof, under the eaves, on the hood of your car. If I lived in Portland I'd have to go on anti-depressants, wear ultra-violet light bracelets, or go to the tanning booth just for light therapy.

Now, we met some really cool people too. Aaron Donley and Jordan Green, both of the Burnside Writers Collective. These talented creative artists have learned use the winter melancholy to fuel their art. And who've learned to use Zoloft and tanning booths and alcohol. Remember, Elliott Smith lived in Portland. Look what happened to him.

In any event, it was great to get back to Southern California, back to the warmer weather and sunshine. Back to the West Side, where the air is clean, we've got the beach, a pedestrian life, yoga, social consciousness and sunshine. It was fantastic.

Until I got into my car.

The Westside always had too many apartments in search of a neighborhood. But back in the 1990s commercial production moved into the warehouses. MTV and Universal and Sony moved much of their administrative offices in. And now it's just way too crowded with commuters going in and out of the area. I'm sure if you bike to work and take your hand cart to the market, and you're a few blocks from your yoga studio, it's fantastic. But try to get anywhere in your car, and it's over. The illusion of the "laid-back west side" is destroyed.

Another thing you can get by leaving is a more objective view. You can live in a hovel and get used to it. But go away and come back and you think, "Man, I'm living in a hovel!" Until you get used to it again. But, once you consider the possibility of moving away, then your mind is free to experience how bad the place is. "Man this place sucks! What a hovel! Was I ever aware of what a hovel this is? How hovelly this is? Geeze GET ME OUT OF HERE!" Of course if you then decide not to move, it's up to you how you handle your new-found awareness of your hovel. "As hovels go, maybe it's not so bad."

If there's one thing I notice coming back to the west side is the sense of entitlement. The drivers, usually men in BMWs and women in BMW SUVs, speed and weave down two lane streets, using the parking lane to pass you. Cutting in front and doing whatever they please. Because they can.

Yesterday I was driving east on Washington Blvd, in the left lane. A Honda Civic was waiting to turn right onto Washington, and behind it, a large Lexus SUV. The Lexus was pissed it had to wait for the Honda, so the Lexus screeched around and careened onto Washington, into the lane where I was driving. I had to honk to get him to see me. Then I realized, he DID see me. he was just expecting me to screech to a halt to let him in. But I didn't. He had to slam on his brakes, and for that he honked at me. I hate the drivers on the West Side. And it's not that much better when they get out of their cars.

The Whole Foods Fetish
I was at Whole Foods on New Years Day, to get some Kumbacha tea, because I am enlightened enough to know that I too, can achieve Nirvana through enzymatic therapy and vinegar tasting drinks. But as for those OTHER shoppers ... I went during the Rose Bowl, figuring it would be less crowded. But what kind of raw foods, organic-eating, spiritually enlightened upper echelon folks watch football? It was crowded, alright. With the rich, beautiful, lonely, angry westsiders: agents who meditate, investment bankers who do sweat lodges, real estate women who juice; rich young mothers with bluetooth phones who don't even hang up when they're checking out.

I was looking at the sushi case, and a man in a baseball cap and close gray beard place himself an inch to my right and shoved his face into the case, forcing me to step aside. I went to the other side and he moved that direction. Was he legally blind? Autistic?

A woman came up behind me, seething because she had to pass me on the left. Later I was walking down the main aisle. People funneling in from side aisles were pissed off that they couldn't just turn into the main aisle in front of me.

"Out of my way asshole, you're blocking my path to spiritual enlightenment."

Take money, privilege and beauty, add a little spiritual enlightenment and you get the worst subculture ever: A culture of entitlement.

I'm sure there are as many brats in Beverly Hills and Encino and Pasadena. But it's worse when you don't think you're a brat. (I know I'm a brat. that's why I need Jesus)

Ex-West Siders
My friend Tony and his wife now life east of the 101. They used to live very close to the beach, but they left for the same reasons. The bad attitude. My friends Scott and TJ live in Atwater. They're looking for a new place and one thing they insist on: East of the 101.

I realized something. There're more than just good air quality. Who wants to breathe clean air if you have to be around spiritually filthy people? (This I discovered through my own spiritual insight gained from Kumbacha)

So Larry and I have decided we are going to move. Somehwere east of the 101, somehwere closer to his new job, closer to some of our NY expat friends who have escaped the tyranny of the West Side life.

Let's hope I don't take my sense of spiritual superiority with me.

PS: Bits of Aaron Donley ... Check out Aaron's "Bits of Life" pieces on the BWC archive. Funnier than Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey. Here are a few...

I think the most terrifying thing about medieval times that even the goriest of movies are afraid to show you is the unforgiving, relentless body odor of everyone present.

I felt weird telling those people at the party that I peed my pants from laughing so hard. Because I knew deep down it was just a little dribble.

If I was a proprietor of an opium den I think I would just sort of casually set out free poppy seed muffins in the kids' play area. And if any of the parents came to me and asked, ‘just what the heck I thought I was doing,’ I would say, ‘Oh yeah, like you’re a good parent or something.’


Doug Perkins said...

"Take money, privilege and beauty, add a little spiritual enlightenment and you get the worst kind of people: Entitled people." Yup, if there's anything that gets me too it's arrogance - especially the people so arrogant that they DON'T KNOW WHO I AM! :-)

I nver thought about this being a west side thing but come to think of it, you migh tbe right....or maybe it's just in any area of LA where it takes at least a half a Mil income a year to own a house.

Here's expecting a 2-3 times the size place fro you guys soon on the east side - and I think you meant east of the 405, not the 101...not to be arrogant on my superior L.A. Thomas Bros. Guide knowledge...

Anonymous said...

Please do not move east of the 101. The poor native Angelenos need a place to live without being run out by arrogant east coast assholes. You may be cool, but if this becomes a trand you will ruin the "real" L.A. just like you ruined the Westside. I live in La Habra. Thank God nobody trandy will ever move here :-)

Susan Isaacs said...

Hey Anonymous in La Habra. That's weird you came to my blog by searching google for "hate the west side," and you hate me for hating the west side. I'm not from New York. I was born in LA and raised 10 miles from you. Stay in La Habra and do your google slander from the safety of your anonymous snipes. What a coward.

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