It’s my first time in L.A., and I’m strolling through this shopping mall — which, because I am not able to drive, I took the bus to. At the mall I’m impressed but also weirded out because there is a Gucci and a Dolce and Gabbana — and I’m offered champagne in both boutiques — that sit next to Aldo and Abercrombie. I then spot these herds of women — Barbizons — who are all capped by the same blond hair, the same (presumably fake) noses and the same (presumably equally fake) tits. I’m wearing a black V-neck from Atelier in New York, black rocker pants from Trash and Vaudeville, black shoes, red sunglasses from no place special, and I’m carrying this shiny black bag I got in Williamsburg for $36.
Most New Yorkers hate L.A., and I was certainly no exception. Who wants to live in a place that’s completely pedestrian unfriendly and full of vapid people who are all “working on a screenplay”? Brian, my plugged-in friend who showed me around, went to Harvard followed by Yale graduate school, and has since retreated from the academy to work “in the business.” He spoke longingly about a time in his life when he was smart. Before he left New Haven for L.A.
So, informed by reliable sources like “My Super Sweet Sixteen,” “Elimidate,” “Next” and “Pimp My Ride,” I created these, like, totally ridiculous stereotypes about what L.A. would be like and why I would certainly hate it. I expected to see packs of fucking fur-lined hot pink drop-tops with lime green trim, a heated swimming pool on top and a fish tank on the hood.
As it turns out, I didn’t see any pimped rides, nor did I hate L.A., so all you L.A.-aholics can stop pissing yourself thinking that I’m about to diss your town. More than anything, my trip to L.A. got me thinking: how did I, a proud New Yorker, get tricked into liking L.A.? What makes any city hot?
We all diss New Haven sometimes, but let’s face it, New Haven can be pretty hot, and it’s only getting hotter by the moment. That ass-ugly coliseum is now long gone (sorry about it!); Kings of Leon played Toad’s last week; the Macy’s building is coming down as you read this; and there’s this really sick new lounge/bar/restaurant called 116Crown that just opened not too long ago. The owner is equally hot — tell him I sent you. ALL WE NEED NOW IS AN AMERICAN APPAREL.
But obviously what makes a city hot is the kind of culture it promotes. Definitely more so than New York and New Haven, L.A. breeds, along with herds of blonde women, a culture of glam. Out here, people are usually reserved with respect to their appearance and display of wealth. My impression of L.A. is that everybody is trying to out-glam everybody else. A glampetiton. When people in cities are glam, I think it can make life there feel fun and frivolous (F&F), as if nothing really matters. It’s saying, “Nobody takes themselves too seriously.” Why be serious when you can just glam your problems away?!
Yes, it’s completely vapid. And I’m okay with it. Surface, surface, surface…
I’m at this boutique opening in Silverlake last Saturday night, and everybody is in sunglasses. Just like in a Bret Easton Ellis novel. There are cameras, media and interviews, but I don’t know who anybody is, except that I do recognize Robbie Williams. I play it cool. I’m chatting and I’m schmoozing and I’m trying to fit in.
But I do notice that most of the people there are totally spiced up — big jewelry, sequins, pearls, sunglasses, expensive handbags, drinking champagne and expensive alcohol. It’s a complete uniting of F&F. L.A. is F&F, and New York is fuck off.
In New York, just as in New Haven I’d say, people mind their own business. Nobody talks to you. You Do Not Exist When I’m Listening To My iPod. Maybe because everybody drives in L.A., Angelenos are more eager for face-to-face interaction.
This brings me to the second thing I like about L.A.: everything is always about sex.
So at this boutique opening, there’s this bouncer that controls who gets to come in. I’m standing outside hanging out — the cool kids always hang outside — and he seems to be totally fascinated by me. He wants to know where I’m from, what I’m doing right now, what I’m doing later, if he can take me to dinner. But I can barely talk to him because he is so amazingly hot, and all that’s going through my head is, “I want to sleep with you I want to sleep with you I want to sleep with you My goodness please sleep with me.” Repeat. Imagine how excited I am when he asks to give me his number, and asks for mine, so we could go “get dinner.”
Because nobody ever hits on me, my first thought was, “WTF? Why aren’t guys this forward back east?! Am I simply hotter in Cali?” But then I came to my senses and thought, “That’s so L.A.” — to want to get dinner with everybody, actually eating with no one. That’s why these bitches are so skinny. But I guess whether or not he was actually interested in me is not the point. The point is that he seemed to be so interested in me that it made me feel good. In L.A., everybody can feel like a star. Is it crazy to want to inhabit a world where everything is glamorous and where you can get laid easily?
I’m so glad, though, to be Back East. I love walking around in New Haven, the grid streets, the urban feel of it. The street is the spectacle here. But I wish there was some way we could combine L.A. F&F and East Coast jadedness. I’m a New Yorker who can’t wait to go back to L.A. — for a visit, not to live — and when I do go, you better believe that I’m going to give that bouncer a call.
Madison Moore is Bret Easton Ellis in disguise.