We’re glad your here! But as someone who came to LA by way of a delivery room, there are a couple things you do that drive us nuts.
1. Talking about LA like it’s a necessary evil to endure for your career.
The tragic tale of how you left your charming home in Wherever, USA, to come to the sordid city to pursue your dream isn’t impressing anyone. The city isn’t an obstacle for you to overcome and it’s irritating when you talk about living here as something you “have to do.” If you’re so above it all, it begs the question, why are you here? Homesickness sucks, but lashing out against the very city you’re begging work from is unseemly.
2. Describing places as “ghetto.”
Oh my goodness, did you see someone of a different ethnicity? Were they speaking a different language? LA is a diverse place with a diverse group of people. It’s also an urban environment and many of us find the grittiness part of a neighborhood’s charm. A lot of the time when someone describes a place this way, what they’re rubbing up against is encountering someone of a different culture and acting fearful. And come on, you’re better than that.
3. Assuming that the entire city is transplanted.
Nope, not all of us are here to chase the dream. Some of us are here because it’s our hometown. We’ve got an ownership and a love for this city that extends past how you did during pilot season. We are invested in the city’s history, preservation, and politics. We get a little cranky when you treat our home like it’s just here to serve your needs.
4. Talking smack about places you’ve never been to.
5. Complaining about the things from your hometown that LA doesn’t have.
Wanna catch a catch a Red Sox game? Head to one of several Sox bars here. Want some snow? Take a day trip to Big Bear. Want some decent public transportation and affordable housing? So do we! Take yourself out for Korean tacos, walk along the beach, watch the sunset from a rooftop, and realize how lucky you are to be experiencing what this city has to offer. A lot of what you’re missing is nostalgia and a sense of the familiar. Familiarity will happen here too. Just give it time.
6. Claiming that LA people are all shallow phonies.
If you watch “Entourage” like it’s a documentary and you spend your weekends stuffed into some Hollywood nightclub, sure, you’ll probably run into droves of actor/model wannabes fresh off the plane. If that’s not your scene, don’t worry; most of us can’t stand it either. Fortunately, it’s far from the only game in town. My drummer friend thinks everyone’s a metalhead. My historian friend only knows academic librarian types. I think everyone’s a comedian or writer. I have a couple friends deep into the puppeteering scene because that totally exists here. You’re in charge of the company you keep and it’s up to you to find a place where you can fit in with like-minded people.
7. Likewise, claiming that LA people are unfriendly or stuck up.
Yes, it’s hard to be new in town. But in a city of 9 million, forgive us if we don’t notice that you’re arrived here the way a small town might notice. Become a regular somewhere (a bar, a coffee shop, even a convenience store)– people will start to recognize your face and you’ll feel more grounded. And yes, making friends in a new city is tough, but it’s not because the city is full of antisocial shut-ins. Everyone is busy and stretched thin, so it can take awhile to form the habit of a new friendship. Don’t get discouraged; it has nothing to do with the friendliness of the people in LA. Join a few Meetups or take a class somewhere and you’ll find plenty of friendly, interesting people.
8. Constantly comparing LA to NYC.
Here’s a secret: people in LA like visiting NYC. We like the cultural differences and we appreciate everything NY has to offer. But for some reason, there’s this idea that enjoying LA somehow makes you less of a New Yorker? Because of this story, some East Coasters arrive with a huge chip on their shoulders before they’ve ever stepped off the plane. It’s ridiculous and makes you look like a high schooler. Calm down. No one is going to take away your New York card if you let yourself enjoy yourself.
9. Acting like a big shot.
It’s fine to talk about the company, project, or celebrity you’re working for. But don’t be surprised when we don’t fall over ourselves like your friends back home do. We are well aware that we’re living in an entertainment hub. It’s cool to be happy with your job; it’s obnoxious when you’re announcing yourself as a power player because you’re working in an agency mailroom. You might have been Mr. Hollywood in your small town, but the ego isn’t impressing anyone here. Instead, relish in the fact that you’re in a huge city full of creative people. Isn’t that better?
10. Driving passively.
Driving passively isn’t driving politely. Going below the speed limit instead of with the flow of traffic isn’t law-abiding, it’s creating a needless hazard. Turning right on red is legal unless otherwise specified and you’re expected to edge out for a left-turn on green. Our traffic is bad enough without you making it worse by being “nice.” Be safe, but drive with a purpose.
11. Snubbing someone’s career decision.
Wanna really alienate potential friends? Snub what they do for a living because they’ve settled for anything less than “visionary auteur.” You may have arrived here with a clear idea of what you want your career to look like, but you should be prepared for plenty of twists and turns along the way, no matter what your field is. You don’t know what working here is like, at least not yet. Some of the most creative people you’ll even meet are working retail, food service, and customer service jobs. (Some of the least creative work in entertainment executive positions, go figure.) Your dream job might look very different in a few years and that’s okay! In the meantime, don’t be a jerk because you don’t understand someone’s career track.
12. Saying that you’re single because everyone wants skinny girls or beefcake dudes.
Being less than billboard material makes everyone self-conscious, but the reality is that most people aren’t runway models. Dating is hard no matter where you are. The vast majority of people in LA aren’t perfect 10’s and they don’t expect you to be either. It’s a big city and there’s a lot of opportunity to meet people here. You aren’t single because everyone here is shallow and nobody can see your unique specialness– you’re single because you’re either doing something off-putting, you aren’t actually making an effort to meet people, or in the great numbers game of 9 million people, luck just hasn’t landed on your number yet. Keep your heart open. There’s nothing less attractive than someone with a chip on their shoulder about their entitlements.
13. Thinking that we’re all health-food obsessed, crystal-worshiping flakes.
You know that we’re a burger town, right? If you’re looking for a good kale smoothie, there are plenty of places to find one… and they’re actually pretty good, especially if you’re hungover. But don’t mistake LA food as a quinoa jungle: that’s a small fraction of the cuisines we offer. And while we’ve got an impressive roster of energy healers, Reiki practitioners, and hypnotists, it’s unfair to assume that we’re all drinking some sort of organic hippie Kool-Aid. Lots of people use it as a way to relax and meditate, similar to a massage.
14. Judging LA as a “wasteland”, but refusing to explore it.
Just because you haven’t sought out what LA has to offer doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. LA is comprised of over 80 districts and neighborhoods, many of which function like their own small towns within the fabric of a huge global city. Pour through Time Out LA or read Jonathan Gold’s LA Times restaurant reviews if you need a starting point.
15. Mispronouncing Tujunga, Los Feliz, or Sepulveda.
We think the way you bungle our local pronunciations is pretty adorable. Don’t worry, you’ll pick it up soon enough. Yeah, calling Los Feliz “Laws FEE-liz” is technically incorrect, but up until 1930, we were “LAWS An-GULL-eez”, so tomato, to-mah-to, right? Gripes about pronunciation are as long-standing as the city itself. Say “La Tijera” again!