Deciding On Lew Yongeles

The New York Mantra: “The best place to take a bullet is in the girlfriend” — spotted on a  man’s t-shirt at the Food Emporium in Hell’s Kitchen… yes, he was shopping alone

The Californian Mantra: “We’ll melt your popsicle” – from the song “California Gurls” by Katy Perry… you know it’s a Californian song if they deliberately (?) misspell one-syllable words

In the past few weeks, several readers have emailed me about my semi-bicoastal life, asking me for recommendations about New York versus LA.  One person even wrote me a very long and sincere note, though our email correspondence fell apart after she asked if I could recommend any plastic surgeons out here in LA.  (Uh, no, but I would advise you to steer clear of the ones who advertise on bus benches.)

Since January 2008, I’ve lived for more than a year in both LA and New York, in Hollywood and Santa Monica, the Upper East Side and Hell’s Kitchen.  What I’ve learned is that, in our society, people fall into two separate yet equally important groups: the hardcore New Yorkers, who hope to crush, conquer, and rule the world, and the Dionysian Southern Californians, who seek medical advice from strangers.

These are my recommendations.

If you want to meet a wealthy guy who wears cuff links on the weekends and pretends to do cocaine just to sound like a nouveau-riche douchebag, you should live in New York.

If you want to meet a girl who barely looks eighteen, popping a morning-after pill while nonchalantly eating an ice cream sandwich outside of a CVS Pharmacy, you should live in LA.

If you want to start a political conversation with your foreign taxicab driver about the ethics of tax reform (“How can you possibly support the estate tax?  You drive a CAB!”), you should live in New York.

If you want to start a car radio showdown with an elderly gentleman driving a black Mustang and blasting Vivaldi in the middle of Please-Don’t-Shoot-Me Sketchtown (a.k.a. downtown Los Angeles), you should live in LA.

If you want to run into a throng of teenagers outside of a movie theater, badmouthing the high school slut who they call “Bobblehead”, you should live in New York.

If you want to run into a throng of middle schoolers outside of Hollister, giggling over the thongs they just bought, you should live in Los Angeles.

If you want to ride the subway with hunched, grizzly men who carry an empty coffee cup in one hand and a can of paint thinner in the other, you should live in New York.

If you want to eschew public transportation altogether and instead drive along a highway death trap (cue Commander Chuck Street, jovially, reporting the morning traffic: “Another casualty accident on the 405!”), you should live in Los Angeles.

If you want to see a pigeon eat couscous off the sidewalk while narrowly avoiding a splat! death-by-bicycle, you should live in New York.

If you want to see a golden retriever play Quidditch in an Air Bud-Harry Potter mash up for the ages, you should live in Los Angeles.

If you want to date someone who works at a glossy bank that is placing a big short on middle-class America, you should live in New York.

If you want to date someone who doesn’t have a job outside of going on auditions, working on his/her memoirs/screenplays, and exercising, you should live in Los Angeles.

…and finally,

If you want to live a normal, happy existence with 2.4 kids, a hanging tomato planter, a library full of James Patterson books, and a social life that doesn’t involve big red Solo cups, you should live in Westchester.  Or Pasadena.  Anywhere but New York or LA.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Deciding On Lew Yongeles

  1. Pingback: Los Angeles vs. New York… Working to Live, vs. Living to Work? « FRESH is BACK

  2. Gabriel

    You paint an interesting comparative picture.

    I have lived in both. Mostly LA, off and on since 2003, but New York for a summer, and i am planning to move to NY for a year in about a month.

    As laid back and beautiful as the people and culture in LA are, and as nice as the weather is, nothing can make up for the fact that being in a car two hours a day changes the dynamic.

    New York is WAY more spontaneous than LA. Maybe less so in the winter when cold weather inhibits plans. But in NY if you get the hankering to go to Brooklyn for a loft party, you can be there in a half hour. In LA if you get the hankering to go to Santa Monica for a beach party, you have to factor in traffic, finding a parking space, maybe stopping by the gas station, etc. NOT fun.

    I am an active person and I like to be on the go. I am hyperactive in fact. So sitting in traffic is depressing to me. It makes me feel anxious. Hopping on the subway is like a little adventure each time.

    An specific example of how a car based city is different from a subway based city: I used to live in Koreatown in LA. I would sometimes get coffee at a local Starbucks. There was an attractive woman there who I always wanted to ask on a date. However I only ever saw here when she was behind the counter and there was a line behind me.

    Had it been NY, chances are I would have seen her around the neighborhood, walking around, in the train station. She might have even lived in the same neighborhood as me.

    But since it was LA, chances were she didn’t even live near there. She most likely commuted in. And after work she just went right to her care in the building’s garage and drove home.

    In LA, it can get pretty lonely when you are in your car two hours a day. The culture there is less socialized. It is more superficial perhaps in part because people never have the time or incentive to get to know one another.

    I find the energy of NY like a drug. A stimulant drug. LA is more like an opiate sedative.

    • Annie

      I totally agree with your comments. I’ve lived in LA all my life. Just recently went to NY for 1 week vacation. I love not having to drive. I love it that i can walk a few blocks and pick a restaurant i’d like to eat in instead of having to plan ahead which restaurant i’ll be eating and factor in parking and driving. Yes, it’s lonely sitting in the car for at least 2 hours each day back and forth to work. People in LA don’t really talk to each other. There is no sense of community since we don’t live close to each other.

  3. Hi,
    I’ve read all your articles and I am very pleased to have stumbled upon your blog.
    I am currently living in NYC, Riverdale (Bronx) right by the Hudson. Next week I’ll be moving to LA. I’m excited about the move, just don’t look forward to the long 2,778 miles!
    I wanted to comment on Gabriel’s comment that sitting 2 hrs in traffic wouldn’t happen in NYC… well, sorry to bust your bubble but it does, more often than not. From where I live (on the Westside) 246th street to midtown 51st str and Broadway with normal traffic (in the morning rush) takes me 20-30 min. drive, with no traffic it takes me exactly 12 min. Now, when you get off of work and hit that Westside Hwy… it can take you anywhere from 1-3 hrs, bumper to bumper cars… no escape.
    Not everyone lives in Manhattan, I chose not to because I didn’t want to live in a shoebox paying outrageously. I like my comforts and space, so I was living a hop and a skip away from Manhattan, 1200 sqf for $2200 a month, luxury apartment, view of the Hudson, surronded by trees, no noise, fresh air (9th floor facing south), a doorman, and everything else. Driving to Brooklyn did not take me 1/2 hr but most times 1.5 hrs.
    Next week I’ll be moving to LA, one of the main reasons is that my guy is out there, but the main reason is that after losing my job last October I was not able to find a job and my savings running out (I’m in finance and a linguist).
    One would think that with 5 foreign languages with native fluency and expertise on Offshore investments NY would be the ideal place. Sad as it is I’m not that upset about it anymore. NYC can be unforgiving. With the encouragement of my close friends who do live on the West Coast I made up my mind to move to LA. Don’t have a job waiting for me yet but I am not worried.
    I love NYC, I’m a true New Yorker, I love the ‘New York Minute’, and everything else that goes with it. But I found my self getting angrier and angrier, more and more frustrated, and not so ‘happy’ anymore.
    I want to work to live and not live to work anymore. Working 60-80 hr weeks is crazy… but New York will always be my city and I will always be a New Yorker.
    I’m not comfortable with the superficiality of LA people who don’t seem to think about anything else but their looks… I hope to find some people who do put more importance to other things, but then again… maybe it’ll be good for my brain to deal with some ‘airheads’ after all the intensity of New Yorkers. Maybe, I myself will relax a bit and take deep breath, and not be in such a rush all the time. Maybe living a more of a leisurely life will do me good and getting back in shape will no longer be a want but a need – not to stand out as a pale East Coaster!
    Well, LA… here I come. I hope you are ready for this New Yorker!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Brandi

      Hi Meral. I would love to know how you like LA now that you made the move from NYC about a year ago. I’m thinking about doing the same…lived in NYC for 10 years now and want some sunny LA – even if it’s only for a year or 3. Let us know what you think of your life on the West Coast!

  4. Jesse

    I think the allure of LA wears off after a while. I was born and raised in Playa del Rey, an oceanfront neighborhood of Los Angeles, live in SF, and dream of NYC.. The weather can seem nice, but it’s hard to get in the spirit of any holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even the 4th of July. Unless you live inland, you’ll be lucky to experience weather over 75 degrees for more than two weeks or weather below 40 for more than a week. It may sound nice now, but think about the monotony. If you like monotony in your life, go for it. Unless you live in Hermosa Beach, Hollywood, or West Hollywood, going out at night is hard. Takes an hour to drive to clubs/bars so gas costs, parking is $20+, and then add on cover charges of $10. So going out at night costs minimum $50 probably. Then you still need a DD who has no fun.

    I totally agree with Annie. I don’t know my neighbors, and feel like I never will. You can’t say hi to people on the streets. And you never see the same person more than once a month, if that. We have our private homes, private cars, and private offices. People have no edge here either. You have to be nice and friendly constantly. My mom is from NY and when she meets other NYers, it’s like they’ve always been friends. You can already joke around with each other. Even friends are unfriendly here. You don’t make as close relations with people here, even best friends. People are too shallow and have to uphold an image. If you don’t have a flawless face and six-pack they won’t talk to you.

    • Hmm… maybe you’re just not talking to the right people then. I moved to Los Angeles last Fall from NY (upstate) and started out working for a temp agency at Fandango over in Santa Monica. It was only a two week gig, but by the time it was over I had gotten to know enough people that they still invited me to happy hour (which they paid for!) and have kept me posted on job openings. Everyone in general has been extremely friendly here, aside from one impatient driver in Malibu that shouted “Go back to New York!!” for reasons that still allude me.

      It hasn’t been mentioned yet, perhaps intentionally, but it’s important to note the whole “legalized medicinal marijuana” thing. It’s a huge part of the culture and really does contribute to the “slow down, relax and enjoy life” vibe. A good example is the reaction to being late at work. In NY, being more than five minutes late meant a lecture from the supervisor. In LA, the supervisor would say “Good morning!”, sip his latte, and move on. Why sweat the small stuff?

  5. hneuhn

    LA is a dump. 1. filling up with mexicans very fast and at an extremely disproportionate rate relate to the rest of the USA. Whites have much lower birth rates and will be driven far out of the city.

    2. Has the worst smog problem in the USA out of any city large or small. Breathing the air is literally dangerous and cancer causing on some days.

    3. Everyone drives everywhere. there is no en mass commuter system set up. Perhaps because of note #1.

  6. Ashley

    hneuhn….don’t think we’re interested in your small minded racist perspective- as highlighted by note #1. The rest of you points are equally less complex and compelling.

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