Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The battle continues, not!

Earlier today, I was making my second cup of tea while mentally preparing lessons plans for my students & editing my poetry manuscript, when an interesting conversation stopped me in my steps. One of my fellow writers was talking to another TV/Screen writer. They were both native New Yorkers discussing living in Los Angeles—one of them had been offered a job in the City of Angels.

What New York is to the literary world, Bay Area is to technology world, LA is to films. If you are in the TV/film/screenwriting business, your best opportunities are in LA. It makes sense to spend a few years there. Or so I am told.

One of them said, “I hate LA. Only thing good about it is the hot girls.” Sure, I continued to steep my tea bag. There was no way I was going to quit eavesdropping now.:-) The other person said that LA weather could get monotonous—they preferred the four seasons offered by New York. Then the chat continued about lack of public transport and fake body parts and superficiality in Los Angeles.

I was amused. This wasn’t the first time I had heard LA-bashing. And that too by New Yorkers. Just as an FYI, no self-respecting New Yorker likes LA. Neither do I. We are trained and taught to despise Los Angeles. To me it is the most pretentious and fake city in the US (Maybe world). But then I am not a big fan of California or of that lifestyle overall. I prefer the urgency and diversity of New York. And I’d much rather slit my wrists than stare into space without concerns for my future, dreams or ambition. I don’t think LA has a stress-free lifestyle. It seems that way because most people don’t boast wrinkles. And that is because of abundance of plastic surgeons and botox.

Anyhoo, I digress. One of my very close friends, a big shot at a bank in NYC who could relocate to any place in the US, was born and raised in LA. The first opportunity he had to leave the city, he did. And there has been no looking back for him ever since he moved to New York. Though I did recommend Asia to him—awesomely comfortable life. The other night, when a bunch of us got together, I asked him why he loathed LA. My friend reiterated the same points my fellow writers were talking about today. He hated the traffic in LA along with the superficial culture, air-headed people, low to no work ethics, and lack of professionalism. He also found LA extremely bureaucratic. People don’t work much. And even they do, commitments & professionalism aren’t words that resonate with them. He also pointed out that, unlike New York, LA is homogenous. There are whites and Latinos. And given he grew up in a white, affluent neighborhood, he was friends with mostly Caucasians. New York pampers you in that sense—just the sheer diversity of people and cultures one is exposed to, should you choose, is remarkable.

There is something about the not-so-convenient lifestyle of the city that keeps you real, grounded, and interesting. I remember reading that Mayor Bloomberg takes the subway to work. And he is the sixth richest man in America. If you have watched the hit American television comedy-drama series, Sex and the City, you’d recall an episode where the four friends visit Los Angeles. By the end of it, they are miserable and can’t wait to return to NYC.

American playwright and screenwriter, Neil Simon, once said, “When its 100 degrees in New York, it's 72 in Los Angeles. When its 30 degrees in New York, in Los Angeles it's still 72. However, there are 6 million interesting people in New York, and 72 in Los Angeles.” I smile every time I read these lines. And no part of me believes there is anything exaggeration in them.

Another classmate of mine in graduate school, born and bred in LA, said similar, negative things about her city. Her father ran operations for one of the largest entertainment houses, so growing up she mingled/partied with the “in” people, which included big name celebrities. She’d said, “Men in LA are always on the lookout for “better” women. They could be chatting with you, but they would be looking around you. Given every 3rd person in LA is an aspiring actor or a model, there is no dearth of good-looking people.”

New York is clogged with celebrities. At our restaurants, bars, parks, bakeries, schools, and stores. But we don’t gawk at them. Or rush to them for an autograph. I was shopping for shoes at Barneys when I spotted the Olsen twins. We literally sat next to each other. A couple of years ago, I saw Jennifer Lopez in Tribeca. But I have also met Jhumpa Lahiri, Malcolm Gladwell, and Salman Rushdie in New York City.

Ultimately, LA might be fun with Disneyland, Universal Studios, Sunset Boulevard and all of that, but New York is that damn efficient and cool where we define who our heroes and celebrities are!

More until next time,


Copyright © 03.07.2012

“Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” Frank Lloyd

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