Now that I have been in LA for a year I have a few observations:
It’s really a 3rd world country. Hot, dusty, crowded. At least 2/3 of the city needs paint, repair, and good scrubbing. Only there’s a drought and water is precious so no one wastes it cleaning buildings and sidewalks and streets. That includes the stairway in my apartment building, which has probably not been swept by anyone but me since 1970.
The other 1/3 has an invisible gate around it requiring money and a car that costs more than I make in a year.
Everyone speaks Spanish. Even the Koreans. Everyone speaks English too but Spanish is the language of choice. The children all speak a kind of Spanglish as in “Mama, en mi escuela, the teacher said…”
I keep thinking that one morning I am going to wake up and be able to understand all the conversations around me. The way one does after spending enough time in a foreign country.
Speaking of cars, Angelinos love them. Not just in the usual “isn’t she a beauty” way. A favorite thing to do here is to rent a high concept car for the weekend and go for a drive in a vintage roadster, the Batmobile, or perhaps a clown car. If you aren’t up for dropping some $$$ on this you can always just hangout in Venice or Marina and car watch.
Driving near the ocean can be dangerous in some surprising ways. One morning I was nearly run off the road by a low flying seagull. Also if it’s windy the palm trees drop fronds, which are enormous, very heavy, and have been known to put people in the hospital.
There are street vendors and food trucks everywhere. A few of the things you can get: fresh cut up fruit, any kind of Mexican fast food, also Korean, grilled cheese sandwiches, pork rinds in giant bags, burgers, fried fish, and tamales. In my neighborhood alone there are at least 5 competing ice cream trucks each with it’s own irritating music box tune.
I am told that you can’t go wrong with food from a taco truck. I haven’t tried this because I am usually on my way somewhere I need to be and don’t have time to explore- that is, get lost by trying to circle back to where I saw the truck. The tamales I got from 2 ladies in a mini van outside my library were delicious though.
I thought for a while that there might be a mosque in the neighborhood, which seemed odd but not improbable, because I kept hearing a unique chanting at dawn and dusk every day. It turned out to be the tamale guy whose cry of “Tamales, tamales, tamales” has the same cadence as a Islamic call to prayer.
The best thing so far about my neighborhood is that there is an amazing bakery across the street from the library. Fabulous, cheap and worth the wait in the line that snakes out the door. I discovered it because as I was leaving the library one Saturday morning, a heavenly smell pulled me across the street and before I knew it I was standing at the counter asking for fresh bread and apple turnovers.