Los Angeles is good at a lot of things. Basketball, for example. Not raining. Advertising on billboards how natural your big new fake tits will look if you go to this one specific surgeon (you won’t even need a permission slip from your parents!). But there are three things the City of Angels really excels at: hating your neighbor for no real reason, getting fucked up, and wrecking shit. Angelenos love a good excuse to do any one of these three.
Because Angelenos really do hate each other. For being the biggest and most diverse melting pot in America, Los Angeles really hates intermingling, and any cross-partying of neighborhoods usually results in an accusation of being a transplant — to hear any given self-described Angeleno tell it, there are only two “real” Angelenos in the entire goddamn city (as a transplant, the acceptable response is to nervously laugh and pretend you had an uncle from that neighborhood once). So out of necessity, everybody’s carved out a corner. It’s like a fucked up real-life version of “The Warriors,” minus the depth of character or widespread appeal. In those little bubbles, each has evolved into a parody of itself.
Trying to party in each corner of the city requires the ability to jump in and out of different clichés, and that takes finesse. The kind of finesse found in Los Angeles transplants who move to the city from Bumfuck, Ohio, and three weeks later drive down Melrose with bug-eye sunnies talking about how they, like, need the beach right now.
See? Instant resentment.
Stereotype: Yuppies and homeless
Drink of choice: Old fashioned (yuppies), sadness (homeless)
New York holds the title for most financial institutions and bankers, but Downtown Los Angeles holds the title for most bankers who wish they were New Yorkers. On any given Friday night, the rooftop bars of Downtown will be littered with men in suits desperately hitting on college coeds by mentioning their job as a “financial professional,” neglecting to clarify that they’re a bank teller and hate their job. They maneuver through the hipsters of Little Tokyo and the families who strayed away from LA Live on their quest to get laid.
Normally, they’ll stick to a fairly small area well away from Skid Row, but they’re getting bolder. The rooftop bars of Los Angeles evolved to combat the growing problem of being forced to look at the homeless people that the city is pretty much actively trying to screw over. From those ivory towers, the only human filth you’ll step in belongs to that chick who got way too drunk while the 30-year-old guy from Wells Fargo holds back her ponytail and grins to himself.
Stereotype: Posers and gangsters
Drink of choice: Champagne, vodka, or any other drink that can put shitty quality in an expensive bottle and get away with it.
People have an image of Hollywood parties where rich people pour champagne over their new Escalades while gorgeous women in bikinis wipe the bubbles off with their equally bubbly butts, while at night, the inhabitants cruise down palm-tree-lined boulevards while sitting on the trunk of convertibles, because seriously, who needs seatbelts when you’ve got that giant bottle of Veuve Clicquot to land on?
In truth, Hollywood is full of people who saw that image in a porno and thought they’d check it out. People come to these trashy clubs and bars because they think they’ll find, bang, and marry Katy Perry all in one night. The result is a clusterfuck of bros in obnoxious button-downs paying $20 for a watered-down G&T while transplants rolling balls on molly dance to the same three songs you’ve heard on the radio for the past six months.
Meanwhile, the celebrities they came to see are squirreled away in their homes in the Hills, holding private parties that your best friend swears he could get invited to if he wanted, thanking God they never have to go anywhere near the cesspool that is Hollywood Blvd.
Stereotype: Old people who think they’re in college
Drink of choice: Beer bongs and kegs
If you become successful enough to afford a home in Manhattan Beach, there’s a good chance your children are already scheming to put you in a home and claim the lion’s share of your inheritance. So what better way to show the ungrateful bastards than by squandering your fortune on party buses and kegs, then kicking the bucket early from cirrhosis?
Manhattan Beach is like the Frat Retirement House, where college pride flags fly over garages lining the streets above the beach proper. Every game day, they mob in vintage jerseys to the nearest sports bar, where they order enough beer towers to make the actual frat boys there jealous, and then they order the expensive appetizers just to rub it in.
They’ll out-chug any of the young whippersnappers, especially the sycophants looking to get in on the tower action. Hey, they’ve had practice. No wonder the kids are asking if they’ve updated the will lately.
Stereotype: Families and hungover yuppies
Drink of choice: Mimosas
At night, Santa Monica is a perfectly respectable place to bring a date, listen to some live music on the street, and glare angrily as she orders the most expensive sushi on the entire fuckin’ menu. It seems calm at first, but there’s more to partying in Los Angeles than the nighttime. In the morning, Santa Monica turns into the silent party, the passive aggressive girl who gets drunk without telling anybody. The zombies that used to be revelers shamble out into the streets, attracted by the allure of the all-important Sunday Brunch, where the hair of the dog numbs the pain of their hangovers with orange juice and champagne.
Meanwhile, families who’ve heard of Santa Monica as a great tourist destination usher their children by, covering their eyes to the things they’ll undoubtedly become if they stay within the city limits. The mimosas are bottomless, but stomachs are not, so by mid-afternoon these half-alive mongrels with perfectly sculpted bedhead will hop back in their cars to get on with their lives, praying to God the cops don’t look for drunk drivers that early.
Drink of choice: PBR, lukewarm
The partiers of LA may be isolated to their own little bubbles of comfort, but these bubbles aren’t stationary. They move around, taking over weaker and poorer subdivisions like a (less than) mildly racist version of the board game Risk. Silver Lake used to be a quiet, predominantly Latino ‘hood, until the hipsters started moving in.
Maybe it was some Jarvis Cocker “Common People” shit. Maybe their jobs as freelance fashion designers who work primarily with fibers found in horse manure wasn’t breaking the bank like they thought and they needed cheaper housing. Either way, there were only so many loud house parties the original tenants could take. Since they’ve packed up and moved, the neighborhood is lousy with the plaid-and-beanies, sipping on their PBR in a living room stained with (hand-rolled) cigarette smoke.
Popular bars in the area offer the Bohemian aesthetic for Hollywood prices, while everybody pats themselves on the back because that hip store down the road decided to carry their new jewelry line made from old aluminum cans at $40 a pop.
Stereotype: Freaks and geeks
Drink of choice: Is weed a drink?
Venice is the petting zoo of Los Angeles, where out-of-towners go to coo at dudes in tutus jumping on broken glass for money. You’d think with these inmates running the asylum that Venice would be the kind of place you roll up the windows on the drive through, but that’s actually a few blocks in from the coast.
In actuality, a full day of smiling through your teeth at tourists takes it out of a guy, so a popular pastime is a night of getting bonkers high and watching those weird cartoons that you just know aren’t really for kids. If the scent of weed were any stronger, it would start condensing into a meteorological phenomenon.
When people do go out, it’s usually to Abbot Kinney, a long boozy street where lost college kids huddle together to avoid rubbing shoulders with that burly bear in what they never realized was a gay bar. There was a picture of a dude in a gimp costume on the wall, dude. What did you expect?
Drink of choice: Vodka and drugs
We’ve got a long way to go before we reach true equality in America. Gay marriage is gaining traction, but it’s not universal. But when it’s 3am and a dude in a speedo is thrusting his crotch in your face, packing what looks like a bear cub that’s caught its first salmon between his thighs, that’s when everybody’s on equal ground. West Hollywood is America’s homosexual haven, flying rainbow flags in front of giant billboards advertising free HIV and drug testing.
At night, it turns into a conservative’s worst nightmare, a strobe-light orgy where gay men bring their girlfriends out for a night of innocent, creeper-free fun, and where creepers pose as gay men to pick up those girls who just, I don’t know, feel so safe with you. You’ll wake up the next day with a pounding hangover, no phone, no credit card, and an unexplainable feeling that you were on the receiving end of some good ol’ fashioned college experimentation, but at least you had fun. There’s no need to get to the (power) bottom of what happened last night. You may not want to know. Men feeling like a sorority girl at a frat party — now that’s equality.
***Explore the world party scene with Matador’s own nightlife guide 101 PLACES TO GET F*CKED UP BEFORE YOU DIE.
Part travel guide, part drunken social commentary, 101 Places may have some of the most hilarious scenes and straight-up observations of youth culture of any book you’ve ever read.***