My Westside Story

I was at an engagement party over at The Parlor in Santa Monica a few weeks ago when I got “reacquainted with an acquaintance” from my UCLA days. We did the obligatory surfacey catch-up talk, which included where we lived now. He: West LA. Me: East of West LA. I told him my major cross-streets.

[tangent] I’m technically located in “Beverly Hills Adjacent” even though I leave that out for fear of sounding like not only a complete tool, but a wannabe tool. When you say you live in “Beverly Hills” it invokes a sort of – intended or not – solicitation of awe from the listener. It’s somewhat of a lose-lose situation, because you don’t mean anything by it. It’s just factual geography, yet chock full of Tori Spelling-esque cheese. Since I actually work in 90211 and use my workplace to receive packages, more than a few times while placing orders on the phone I would get the “Ooh, it’s almost 90210” comment.

My apartment? Like so many others, my address says Los Angeles. It’s a huge city and even larger county – even the largest one in the country. Yes, Beverly Hills Adjacent suffices in making it more specific but you know what? Not only do I not want to say I live in Beverly Hills, I especially don’t want to mention that I live in Beverly Hills Adjacent. Just the mere specification that I live not in Beverly Hills but across the street from it reeks of “wannabe elitism.” And so, I stick to the cross-streets. [/tangent]

Anyway, to my reference of “La Cienega and Olympic,” my re-acquaintance responded: “So, what do you do for fun over there? Go clubbing in K-town?”

Excuse me?

It took all my restraint to not ask in response, “What do you do for fun? Wait in line for hours in a collared shirt under a pink sweater and khaki cargos in front of Air Conditioned – now that you’re too cool and rich for the line in front of Diddy Riese?”

Star indicates my approximate location

The star in the middle is approximately where I live.

Oh honey, you have no idea. What is infinitely funny about this is that I can’t even count on one hand the number of times I’ve stepped inside of a Korean club. Just the notion that the only thing east of where he lived that was worth his time was booking strange girls by the hour over Crown Royal was shocking. I don’t know if I felt sadder about his arrogance or ignorance. Unfortunately, I have found that many Bruins – recently and not-so-recently graduated – suffer from wearing these sort of “Westside Is King” blinders.

Los Angeles is really a horrible thing to waste.

This is not to say that I consider myself an Eastside Hipster. Though I consider myself “central,” Eastsiders would actually consider me a Westsider. Yet I find myself driving far more often to Silver Lake, to Eagle Rock, to Hollywood to get my culture than anywhere on the Westside. Music flourishes on the Eastside with far more venues to hear acts thancross-town. Art shows and art events occur far more often there, too, with the addition of downtown. I haven’t even talked about the area immediately around my place, like the revival of Culver City; 3rd Street and its multitude of eateries; Fairfax District or Beverly Blvd. and the unique places to visit along there. Forget the fact that I’m smack dab in the middle of four malls with the ones west of me not worth visiting?

Venice is really the only place besides the beach that I’ll venture to, if only because I have friends who live there. But I also love the community there; it’s just a bit far from everything else. A big indication, I think, is that Venice (Abbot Kinney in particular) and most parts in Hollywood and east are all places where chain establishments are largely unwelcome and independent businesses flourish.

Culture over convenience.
Creativity over comfort and conformity.
Even: Cordiality over contention.

I’ll even give you my honest opinion about the drivers generally on the Westside, too: They generally drive like oblivious, entitled imbeciles.

Brentwood is plush; Santa Monica is beachy yet tidy. Um, touristy. (Yes, Hollywood is as well but only at Highland.) West LA? A concrete wasteland. I don’t know – during school I myself didn’t venture very far from Westwood (location of the UCLA campus) because I didn’t need to since absolutely everything was new to me, nor was I able to with my allotted student budget. And it was nice. It was awe-inspiring, but you know – being from the Midwest – palm trees were inspiring.

The affluent Westsiders seem to awe-inspire with the mere fact that they’re affluent whereas affluent Eastsiders seem to awe-inspire with what they do creatively with that affluence. Westsiders think dive bars are a ghetto phenomenon whereas Eastsiders consider them a positively intimate place to gather.

I must admit, though, that adding to my bias against the Westside is the plethora of undergraduates milling around. Not awe-inspiring to me. Call it ageism or a refusal to be stuck in a time warp, thereby fooling myself that I’d soon as rather pretend I was still in my early twenties because I have so much in common with them – sense of humor, preference in food, etc. (Hell no.) Personally, I need to be an environment where it’s reflected that I’ve changed – what’s more: That I’ve grown. Mentally, socially and intellectually.

So to each Bruin – his or her own. It might have been enough, then, to rub in the face of the cross-town Trojans that they paid Ivy League level tuition to take cover in their South Central LA dorm rooms to sustain a sub-par education, but there just comes a time when you realize that your attention span is larger than the area west of the 405. I would hope so, anyway.