1. The high population of grinning dogs on the boardwalk
So LA hardly has a monopoly on man’s best friend. But somehow, the Venice Beach Boardwalk has perfected the relationship to the point where the lines between the species are starting to blur. Nowhere else will you find more pitbulls, smiling those massive smiles as they pull their owners down the path on their longboards. And when the dog gets a turn at pushing himself, you can’t help but smile just as wide. Step up your dog game, New York.
2. The fact that traffic is an acceptable reason to be late to work
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of driving out of Los Angeles for the last time, watching the traffic thin on the 10, and feeling the weight lift in your stomach — you’re free. This is what Andy felt like during the Shawshank Redemption, only instead of 500 yards of shit, it’s dozens of miles of it. And you’ll feel that freedom, until you walk into work five minutes late and your new boss starts chewing you out. “There was traffic,” you’ll say. But it’ll fall on deaf ears. “Wake up earlier,” is the only option for you now.
3. The insane neon sunsets that make traffic worth the drive home
People think Angelenos are terrible drivers. It’s true. We could find the shortest way between two points in a bowl of spaghetti, but we’d accidentally run over a cyclist on the way there guaranteed. And it’s not because we’re necessarily bad drivers (although, put a millimeter of rain on the ground and ask me to repeat that), but we are distracted as hell. I mean, look at that sky. Can you blame us for taking our eyes off the road?
4. Finding peace in long transits
They say you cannot appreciate true joy without knowing what it is to be sad. That you cannot appreciate sunshine without the rain. That you cannot appreciate a quick commute without being stuck behind some asshole in a Prius that’s driving just slow enough behind the car in the next lane that you can’t pass him. After a while in LA, you learn to appreciate the Zen. Tune out and watch the sunset. When you leave, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your patience dissipates.
5. The bittersweet feeling of spending what should be your rent money on tickets to Kanye’s 808’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl
You get used to a certain lifestyle in Los Angeles. Here you are in one of the most expensive cities in America, which just so happens to be the hub of the world’s entertainment, meaning you get prime access to some of the biggest events in the world — from the Oscars to a one-night-only small club Rolling Stones concert to a run through of Kanye’s most underrated album in one of the best venues in the world. So, yeah, you should be spending money on rent and bills, but it’s so easy to be tempted away by the sheer volume of great entertainment to be found. When you leave, you’ll wish you had something more exciting on which to drain your bank account.
6. Getting above the smog layer during a hills hike
Just like you can’t appreciate a quick commute without a barrage of traffic jams, you can’t truly appreciate fresh air until you’ve struggled to see LA’s mountains from the 110 on a smoggy day. LA may not have the scenic magnitude of Colorado, but you’ll feel just as accomplished getting out into what little nature we do have on the weekend. Finding your own little peace in Runyon Canyon or Jim Morrison’s Cave after a long weekend of LA’s hustle can be more relaxing than camping in Yosemite without the windup beforehand.
7. Obviously, In-N-Out
It goes without saying — people fly across the country to try In-N-Out’s fabled burgers. All praises that can be laid upon the almighty Double Double Animal Style have been laid time and time again. There are those who say that that In-N-Out isn’t even all that good, but those people, I ask — have you tried it without the bitter seasoning of not getting to eat it whenever you want?
8. Being two hours away from the mountains, the desert, and the beach
Everybody knows Los Angeles as the land of urban sprawl, with a city land area nearly double that of New York City’s. But of all the cities, Los Angeles may have access to the most varied natural sights within immediate driving distance (well, by Angelenos’ standards). If you’d like to go snowboarding, Big Bear is just around the corner. Angeles National Forest is just to the north. If you want something hot and dry, Joshua Tree and Palm Springs are just three hours inland. And if you’re leaving from the Staples Center, you could be in Venice Beach in the same amount of time!
9. News anchors absurdly bad at dealing with weather
I watched a bit about the weather in Los Angeles soon after leaving it. They were talking about the “freezing temperatures” and wondering “when will this Arctic blast end?” An English friend heard the report from the other room and told me he didn’t know it got that cold in California. No, Reginald, it does not, in fact, get that cold there. But as inflammatory and panicky as the LA news anchors can be (remember Carmaggedon?), at least they make you want to tune in.
10. Seeing the same weirdoes out every evening in Venice, and making friends with some of them
When you live somewhere long enough, you get to know your neighbors. You get to know their quirks. But nowhere else gets the privilege of the presence of the people that populate Venice Beach every single day. It’s an ecosystem of burnt-out hippies, tourists, locals with nothing else to do, artists, and stoners. It’s the entire city boiled down into a weird sauce and spread over some of the best stretch of boardwalk in the world. When you spend enough time there, you’ll get to recognize the characters that claim the same real estate every day. You’ll take comfort from their presence, start talking to them every once in a while. They’re strange people, but friendly as hell. Just like everybody else in LA.