Saying that LA sucks is a cliché, but cliché’s don’t exist in a vacuum. There’s a kernel of truth in each one.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 6 years this September. It’s the longest continuous time I’ve ever lived in one place since I was 4, but it wasn’t until I moved Downtown that I realized why Los Angeles sucks, and it’s closely tied into another cliché about Los Angeles: the fact that everyone here is superficial.
Now, obviously, that’s not entirely true. There’s great people in LA, just like there are great people in Dubuque, Iowa. There’s a level of work ethic here that’s centered around creativity that I’ve never seen anywhere else. New York’s the only place with a deeper appreciation of “hustling”, but it’s mostly in pursuit of the almighty dollar because Manhattan has turned into a playground for rich people and without money you can’t even peer over the fence to take a look at that playground.
But there’s a level of superficiality to the entire city that’s peeled back when you live Downtown.
Everyone knows Los Angeles has a homeless problem. I mean, if you were homeless, LA would be the best place to live outdoors. It’s never cold and it never rains. I get it.
The Westside pretends it doesn’t have this problem, or if it does it’s couched in bullshit terms like “protecting the community.” In Venice, the Silicon Beachers want the homeless people Guliani’d off to Portland or Seattle in order to protect their property values while the hardcore OG Venitians who want the homeless problem addressed by (this is a real plan) offering them a place to store their belongings so they don’t clog up the sidewalks. They’re addressing it at a superficial level. There’s literally no fucks given about the systemic issues that produce homeless people, yet an awful lot of gum-flapping about how the housing price rise effects traditional Venitians.
Shit, in Santa Monica they’ve created city ordinances that basically shunt all the homeless people away from the areas that tourists visit.
It’s LA in a nutshell: “Look at me, I’m so pretty, don’t look any deeper or you’ll see some truly rotten shit because all I care about is looking pretty!”
Downtown LA doesn’t have that issue at all. I’ve seen homeless people smoking crack, I’ve seen homeless people drunk as skunks at 6 in the morning stumbling around the middle of Broadway, I’ve seen homeless people pissing on the sidewalk, I’ve seen homeless people screaming at the sky because the sun is a Russian spy. I’ve seen Skid Row.
But that shit is out in the open. It’s honest. Fuck, you take a look at Skid Row and you think:
“Fuck me running, this is a PROBLEM. Not just because it’s an eyesore, but because it’s disgusting that this:
Resides in the same city that this lives in.
It’s transparent with it’s issues.
Plus, Downtown LA is the only place I’ve seen shelters and centers dedicated to addressing the issue of homelessness, not just homelessness that effects homeowners.
I like the honesty. It smells like piss.
HW Edwards talks about writing, books, life in LA and marketing here at Medium, and writes short fiction at Fictum. He quit Twitter and Facebook and has never been happier.
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