Goodbye, Los Angeles.
Today is my last day living in Los Angeles. Tomorrow I will pack up my neon lights in my 2008 Toyota Prius, and drive the 5 until the billboards start to advertise for the newest Series-C enterprise data startup. In this Dam Venture post we’re not going to talk about startups, tech, or investing. Instead I’m going to tell my cheesy love story with Los Angeles, my favorite memories, and some of the people and things here that I love, and will miss dearly. The real reason I think LA will be the next great tech ecosystem in the United States.
Depending on how you count the time I spent on Denver for COVID, I’ve been living here for about 5 years now. About 20% of my life. And it’s the hardest place I’ve ever had to leave.
In the last post I talked about some of the broader, cultural ideologies I want to bring with me from LA to SF. Yes, LA can be the fakest silver-screened world of show business and entertainment. But I think beneath that is a layer of people who care as much about the arts as they care about the price Bitcoin trades at.
I first visited Los Angeles in 7th grade on a school field trip. I slept under the sea stars at Aquarium of the Pacific and helped sail a tall ship off Catalina. 10 years later, I still go to the same char siu bao spot in Chinatown Wonder Bakery. But I knew I was in love with the city at the Santa Monica pier. I’d never been to a pier before; I suppose growing up in Colorado will do that to you. And Santa Monica was straight out of a movie, where we walked around and watched the sunset. It’s own special kind of magic.
The next time I came back was visiting colleges. I remember sitting with my dad in the Seoul Sausage that’s now been replaced with a trendy Indonesian retaurant Kasih, eating a short rib poutine and a burger with the most perfectly circular egg I’ve ever seen. If time makes you forget love, Korean American fusion food is the phone booth from Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure.
I spent four years at Caltech, the hardest four years of my life. I’ll never forget any of the late night Labobatory runs with Ari. The Morat concert where I only knew half the words. The rolling green hills fresh from rain or hikes in the San Gabriel mountains. Regardless of how much homework I was underwater with, or how behind I was on applying for internships or jobs, I always found peace in the on-campus turtle pond, and the knowledge that I would never be cold.
The last year I’ve been living in Culver City, a suburb I never thought I’d fall in love with also. But I did. Every year I have better memories. Dapping up Jake at LA fitness before leg day, whiskey nights with Brom and Sean, fencing with the crew at Fortune, and brunch at Great White. Part of the reason I’m driving to San Francisco twice is because of the neon signs I made in Lili Lakich’s class. Neon itself a memory of a different, wonderful era.
I wouldn’t change anything about the time I’ve spent here. I think we all fall in love with the places we live over time. I’m sure I’ll find things to love in San Francisco too. I loved growing up in Denver, and carry my identity as an REI-wearing granola boy with me as well.
But at the end of the day, the iteration of myself that I’m currently living is a brunch-loving, Watts tower, Neon-sign designing, Bryce-Vine-Listening, fake Instagram influencer, 626 boba-obsessed, Leo’s midnight taco run, constantly stuck-in-traffic, Angelino.
And I promise that moving to San Francisco won’t change that.
Until next time, Los Angeles.