January 2, 2008 7:17 PM   Subscribe

You don't live in Los Angeles, but you hate it with every fiber of your being. This AskMe is for you!
(I'll get to LA lovers & residents later. In the meantime, you should probably avoid this thread.)

I'm working on a writing project dealing with the fiery, flaming passionate hatred that so many people who don't live in Los Angeles hold towards the city. You LA haters are going to love this... because this thread is not intended to mention a single redeeming quality about the place. I don't care if you've never been there, if you've only visited for a short time, if you grew up there and ran for your life, or if you moved there as an adult and left it... if you hate the place with the fire of a thousand suns and love to let people know, do tell. I'm trying to sort out the top reasons that people give for this hatred and listen to the specific stories (please share if there are any!) that inspired it.

Stuff I'm curious to hear about:
1) Whereabouts are you from originally/live now. (To understand the contrast between Los Angeles and the culture that you originated from, if there is any.)
2) How much time have you have spent in LA in your life, and how recently.
3) If you moved there as an adult, what brought you there? Why did you leave?
4) If you have spent time in LA, how did it meet or miss your low/high expectations? Have your opinions on the place changed over the years?
And lastly...
5) WHY do you hate it? WHAT do you hate about it? Is it a general impression? Or was it a specific experience? As I said, any specific stories that capture your impressions of the place or moments that you turned against it are very, very welcome.

Okay, ready? Go!

(And once again, I'll get to LA lovers & residents later. In the meantime, you should probably avoid this thread. This isn't the place to get defensive, LA haters have the floor.)
posted by miss lynnster to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (66 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
From Midwest, live in Midwest. Been to LA a few times to visit by bro. I hate it because it is a big dirty city with few things that I really like (cute little cafes, antique stores, relaxed attitudes, nice old buildings, etc). Plus I hate the constant driving everywhere and it taking at least 30mins to get anyway. But what I really hate is that it turned my favorite brother into a fashion obsessed snob.
posted by sulaine at 7:30 PM on January 2, 2008

The delay is likely either because people are waiting for the mods to nuke it, or because people have so much to say. While my vote's for the latter...

... It's because there's so many people, and so many people seem to feel that they need to fight everyone else in order to make themselves feel like they're unique or different somehow from everyone else.

Example: I was flying from DFW to LAX. Sitting next to me for most of the flight was a pleasant asian woman who worked as a translator for a software startup. She and I talked for most of the two+ hour flight, and then when we landed I let her in front of me to walk down the jetway. As soon as she hit the end of the jetway, she ... inflated. There's no other word for it. Her elbows came out, she slowed down, her chin and nose went up ... and you couldn't get within three feet of her without bumping into her luggage or her elbows. It's amazing to me about how people adopt a different attitude in the culture.
posted by SpecialK at 7:33 PM on January 2, 2008

Oh, and I don't live there (thank god), but my parents do. I spend about two weeks a year in the city. I dated there at one point and was there more often. I specifically decided NOT to move there because I didn't like the people, I didn't like driving there, I didn't like how it felt like a concrete jungle, I didn't like the need to constantly protect yourself, etc. Right now, I live in semi-rural TX. I grew up in cities or suburbs -- Chicago, IL, Pittsburgh, suburban Philly, suburban CT, suburban Oregon, and lived in the middle of downtown Portland for three years during and after college. It came time to move, and it was either move in with my parents and likely make a lot of money, or it was move in with a friend in TX and be poorer but happier.
posted by SpecialK at 7:36 PM on January 2, 2008

Fun question.

I currently live in Boston and generally go for the more European vibe when it comes to cities, but I was raised in Dallas and found a lot of the things I hate about Dallas I hate about LA as well:

- Transportation. Inability to walk anywhere compounded with a lack of public transportation, which means everyone must have a car. I don't like cars and I don't like car-scaled cities either.
- It feels too big - and this coming from someone who loves New York. Tying back into the scale of the city being designed primarily for cars. I just don't feel like driving an hour across a city should be an everyday type thing, but who knows how common this actually is.
- The stereotype of everything having an excessively consumer-driven, shallow, bleach-blonde, faux-everything, new money, sort of tacky feel. Mall culture, Reality shows (The Hills, anyone?), bad films, nosejobs, bling, Juicy Couture: LA seems to be the origin of all of these things, to me. Foreigners' negative stereotypes of the US, to me, seem to parallel my negative stereotypes of LA. I don't know to what extent these stereotypes are true, but I bet from what I've seen and heard that there's at least something to them.
- Lack of things I call "interesting": museums, history, interesting architecture, a distinct atmosphere, anything small and charming. LA seems to lack, or not have enough of, everything I like about, say, Paris.
- The weather. I know it's something Angelenos must love, but a lack of distinct seasons to me sounds really boring.

Of course, there are things about LA I liked too, but I guess those aren't really of interest here. I visited once three years ago for a week and have a few friends there, so I'm hardly an expert.
posted by Muffpub at 7:40 PM on January 2, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, another thing... for the reasons you hate it, like "it's a dirty city with lots of traffic." I want to know why you think it's so much dirtier and has so much more traffic than anywhere else?
posted by miss lynnster at 7:44 PM on January 2, 2008

You may find this discussion of East Coast vs. West Coast stereotypes interesting. It's a bit long and rambly but it seems that a lot of peoples' negative stereotypes about the West Coast seem to be about LA.
posted by Muffpub at 7:44 PM on January 2, 2008

Long time visitor, never lived there though. I'm from New York, so there is that East Coast/West coast rivalry that so often ends up in gunplay.

Used to hate hate hate LA, but now kind of like it as long as I take it on its own terms. It's very American, where New York is wannabe European - therefore I think nowadays New York is more insecure. Both sides are incredible snobs (and I say this as a proud New Yorker)

I still think LA is ugly since it is in a flat valley surrounded by mountains on three sides. The haze invokes in me a feeling like I am in a miasma of despair. One of the most depressing sights i know is looking at the hills at about 4:00 in the afternoon when the sun is low in the sky. It looks like the hills and the city have just given up - almost Appalachian really.

But I still kind of like it as long as I take it on its own terms.

One thing that DOES drive me batty is that because LA has very nice weather, we all know it has very nice weather, once you are there on a visit, Angelenos will never, ever, EVER, let you forget LA has nice weather. If you come from a more inclement clime, be prepared to be needled about the nice weather and lack thereof in your neck of the woods about 34,000 times/day. Even at inappropriate moments, like open heart surgeries, contentious business negotiations, court trials, love affairs, you name it.

Once they get over that it will be a fine, fine place.

Sorry if it is too small a data point.
posted by xetere at 7:50 PM on January 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've lived in L.A. most of my life and have come very close to becoming a hater as of late - planning to flee sometime this year, if all goes according to plan.

My reasons have already been stated by others, but to that I'll add the rapid population growth and resulting gentrification and competition for housing that has taken place in the last few years. Too many people, too high prices, too little in return. Big, overcrowded, and mediocre at best.

Somebody - perhaps Raymond Chandler? - once described L.A. as having "the most of everything and the best of nothing" and that, precisely, is how I've come to feel about it here. Yeah, there's lots of people and lots of stuff, but nothing I can't find elsewhere for less.
posted by chez shoes at 7:51 PM on January 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was born and raised in Wyoming, spent 4 years in Boulder, CO for undergrad and have been living in Vancouver, BC since. I've been to LA an handful of times (3-4?) for around a week each time.

To me, LA is the epitome of everything that's wrong with the American metroplex. It's a massive, sprawling, dirty city. It lacks the history and presence of NYC or Boston. It lacks the mountains of Denver or Albuquerque. It lacks the greenery and compactness of Portland, Seattle or Vancouver. To do anything interesting, you have to drive on the massive, congested highways. It has no charm to speak of and outside of plastic Hollywood poseurs, there's no interesting culture to speak of (Latino culture is far more interesting in other southwest cities or Texas). It's between 65 and 85 Fahrenheit basically always.

Foreigners' negative stereotypes of the US, to me, seem to parallel my negative stereotypes of LA.

I actually agree heartily with almost everything Muffpub said, this is absolutely the crux of it.
posted by Nelsormensch at 7:53 PM on January 2, 2008

I only can offer one anecdote regarding LA partly. When I was first moving to Chicago and shortly after getting here I was amazed at how deeply most people I met loved our city. I heard several times a phrase along the lines of, "Some people hate New York. Some people hate L.A. But everyone loves Chicago." So the L.A. hate (along with heath doses of disdane for NYC seem universal even here in the mid-west.
posted by wfrgms at 7:58 PM on January 2, 2008

I lived in Las Vegas and hated that a large percentage of the smog floating in the air blew in from LA.

Seconding LA having "the most of everything and the best of nothing."
posted by hammerthyme at 8:02 PM on January 2, 2008

I'm a native Bay Arean and have visited LA a few times for friends/family reasons.

Why I hate LA:

- The weather. LA DOES NOT HAVE TERRIFIC WEATHER! Los Angeles weather sucks giant moose balls! It's hot! I visited in the early spring one year and it was hot enough to fry an egg! Coming from San Francisco, everything I owned was black and long-sleeved. I almost passed out.
- The air quality is the pits.
- The city itself is ugly and sprawly and, as Muffpub points out, lacks a lot of the cool and picturesque things that make cities (or college towns, for that matter) interesting.
- LA gives all of California a bad name. I'm sick to death of correcting foreigners, and naive Americans for that matter, that no, LA culture does not represent all or even most of California, and please do visit San Francisco some time and we'll prove it.
- The general shallowness and plasticky quality of the place and culture.
- Sprawl. The traffic is horrendous and you need to drive to get anywhere.
- I just find it butt-ugly and with a depressing aura in general.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:05 PM on January 2, 2008

Response by poster: Almost forgot, something else I wanted to know. Since Los Angeles is 470 square miles (so yes, it's irrefutably sprawly), with the general comments like "LA has nothing picturesque," "It has no neighborhoods or cafes," etc. I'd like to know where in LA you've been and/or are judging based on. I'm absolutely not asking so I can saying you're wrong, this is all just for information collection purposes. Trying to understand how the impressions you have were formulated.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:15 PM on January 2, 2008

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Still here.

I've never been to California, so it's just secondhand, but the two things that I find least appealing are the smog and dirtiness of the air, and the lack of good public transportation and pedestrian culture.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:17 PM on January 2, 2008

We think it's so much dirtier because IT IS. With some of the worst air pollution in the country and often no air conditioning a fine layer of filth quickly accumulates on everything in your home. Of course, there is the thicker layer of filth outdoors. Yech.

I can't speak to the volume of traffic because I avoid it at all costs. The freeways in LA are old and decrepit. Drivers are either oblivious or assholes. Skeery.

But I haven't left yet.
posted by FuzzyVerde at 8:18 PM on January 2, 2008

I went to UCLA for undergrad (4 years) and had a great time. However, that was with no responsibilities essentially, on my parents money, with my friends driving me around. Since I've moved back to Seattle I've grown to hate LA and pity it, for mainly the same reasons as everyone else here, so throw my weight in there behind ugly, dirty, sprawly, tacky, shoppy.
My own observations:
-LA is like a bunch of oases in a desert. You have to travel unbelievably far to get what you want, or else you have to compromise and take something more convenient.
-It's dead. It's a desert. Every crack and cranny is filled with dust and trash, and nothing grows on its own.
-Everyone is always sizing you up, unless they're a tourist. Are you cool enough? Are you tan enough?
-Every apartment building looks the same, except for my first apartment building, which was barf-orange instead of beige.

ehhh, I had more but I can't remember. That place sucks.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:19 PM on January 2, 2008

Oh and I don't drive, so any place heavily dependent upon cars, with long commutes, gets my goat.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:20 PM on January 2, 2008

1) Born and raised in San Diego. Growing up in San Diego is a horrible experience for anyone even mildly intellectual. And I grew up in one of the more enviable parts but surf and sun did not make up for culture.
2) I would drive up frequently for various reasons. I have some relatives there. I've taken friends from across/out of the country there who were curious about it. Last was there about a year ago, just in West Hollywood.
3) N/a
4) I have a set of criteria for what I consider a livable city. LA somehow manages to be the exact opposite of everything I want in a city or what a city should be: Walkable (at least a central, walkable area), close-knit neighborhoods, a balance of modernity with tradition, a peculiar aesthetic.
5) I hate driving. I currently live in San Francisco and work down in Silicon Valley. I take the Caltrain everyday because I hate driving.
Public transportation here isnt perfect but in LA there are many less options.

To be honest, I think my biggest beef with LA is that it was on its way to being a beautiful city, a unique and lovely place in the world. And it threw it away. It razed its most historical districts and built freeways. You had cute stuff, like Angels Flight. Or the old Chinatown where Chaplin filmed his movies.

If you know about LA you know what I mean. There used to be traincars taking people to the beaches. It was the land of film noir.

Whereas other cities have fought to preserve their history, Los Angeles has sold out. It has no downtown, something almost every respectable city has - No Boston Commons or Copley Square. No Central Park or Times Square. No Embarcadero. No Zocalo. Not even a Champs-Elysees or a Trafalgar Square. Its got nothing. Its a collection of suburbs.

Whenever I drive someone there from out of the country I feel embarrasment that I have nowhere to take them where I can say: "We're here. We're in LA. Lets park the car and walk around."

It doesnt have great weather either. I say this as a San Diegan. LA has got smog and polluted beaches.

On top of that it is dominated by a shallow celebrity culture which I wont go into more detail on. There's sufficient reasons above to dislike LA. Its a big disappointment.

And whenever I drive through it I feel a sense of dislocation, a haunting anonymity about being there, and a profound sense of disappointment, coupled with gratitude that there are other cities in the world who have had better fates.
posted by vacapinta at 8:25 PM on January 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Traffic. I like walking/biking; SoCal people seem to hate on both.
Residents seem to buy into celebrity culture even if they claim to rise above it.
Sprawl is ugly. I mean, seriously, the farm girl in me can't handle that much asphalt with so few highrises.
LAX is unpleasantly crowded and lacks directional signage.
It seems like one has to drive everywhere and yet there's no parking.
Freeway architecture might be arrestingly modernist from space, but it's sure as hell not attractive from the ground.
I think what I'm getting at is that LA is ugly in a way that is oppressive for people who've come from beautiful places; but it's supposed to be the epitome of some part of American culture, at least. Because of this contradiction, LA is much sadder than other cities that share some of its unattractive qualities (and currently I live near Detroit, which in some ways should be considered a much more awful place, so I speak from that perspective when I say this).
I have friends who love living there; they work from home and have taught me that there are great neighborhoods as long as you never have to leave. Most of my friends are in the museum world, though, and getting to work involves hour-long commutes to travel fewer than five miles. This is about a potent combination of affordability, traffic, and coolness that just isn't relevant in other parts of the world.

On some level these are just stereotypes and personal preferences (and I've only visited friends in LA three times for a few days at most; apart from that I'm a Bay Area/rural east coast person), but just flying into LA I start getting the heebeejeebees.

However, if we're recording impressions, I've never had the impression that LA was particularly dirty -- for dirt, NYC and London will always win the prize over LA in my book. And high prices don't stop me from wanting to live in SF or the outskirts of NYC, so I won't be a hypocrite and complain about that alone.
posted by obliquicity at 8:35 PM on January 2, 2008

Raised in Hawaii, lived in LA for two years and settled in northern California. I don't hate LA, but I didn't like living there and don't like going there because the people seem somehow needy. People I meet at random seem to want want want you to notice how unique they are, but give you no time to find out for yourself. Instead all kinds of oddities are displayed as though it is the display, rather than the person, which should interest you. Maybe it is because people feel they must make up their minds quickly about whether to pursue a budding friendship - or lose track of one another in a sea of quirky-but-charming hats, odd cars, or unusual tattoos.
posted by jet_silver at 8:50 PM on January 2, 2008

Grew up in LA from age 4-12, then lived in Orange County from 12-18.

For me, it's that prevailing feeling that when you're there, it's OK to not care about the rest of the country and the rest of the world because if it's not happening now and in LA/OC, it's just not that important.

And also that lack of substance or sincerity when it comes to issues. For instance, since "green" became cool, I'd see garages with a Prius parked next to a Hummer and a V12 Benz. The corollary is that when something becomes a fad, holy cow, LA can escalate it to the nth degree really fast. "Superficial" I guess would be the word but that doesn't express how overboard LA will blow something out of proportion once it latches onto something.

Oddly, when I read Great Gatsby ages ago, I pictured it as the LA of today, rather than the NY of yesteryear. I think it was the images of big, lavish outdoor parties, superficial people with money, and the scenes of long drives in an open-top car.

All things said, I don't hate LA. It is what it is. People across the country are all friendly once you get past the stereotypes and regional annoyances.
posted by junesix at 8:53 PM on January 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've skipped over the responses, because I'm an L.A. Lover now... but I am, as well, a former L.A. hater. God, I used to fucking HATE this place. HATE HATE HATED it. If you would have told me I'd wind up moving here, I would have either laughed in your face or slit your throat. My loathing reached its pinnacle in the early/mid '90s, when a college friend and my sister both moved out here, and I attended both their weddings within a few years of each other. You couldn't have removed the sneer from my face with surgery. (Within about 5 years, though, I was singing a different tune. And now here I am, after 7.5 years...brainwashed and loving it.)

My main objection was the intense creepy inauthenticity: palm trees and fake tits, EVERYWHERE. Jesus god. Revolting. For years, I was fond of saying that L.A. reminded me of the last few hours of an acid trip: you had no idea what was real and what was fake, but you knew enough that you were ready for it to STOP.

I also hated the lack of decent public transportation (OK, still hate that) and the lack of a meaningful city center. You have to understand: for years (and in a way, even now, still) I saw Chicago as my Emerald City. A perfect downtown through which all things flow! Well-defined neighborhood after neighborhood, with picturesque brick buildings and storefronts and bars and cafes and parks and trains, filled with the hum of people walking, riding, talking, sharing public space. By contrast, there's a fundamental decentrality to L.A. that I found very chilling for years; I've learned to cope with it, now, but it took me a long time to deal with.

Also, the lack of defined seasons seemed, well, creepy. (And I admit, from October to December, I still miss having a proper fall/winter. But by January, I'm all for loving the weather again.) The static (or at least semi-static) quality of the weather seemed part and parcel with the whole sense of fakeness... just totally an inauthentic way to live.

Like I said, I've either seen past these previous impressions or learned how to deal with them, but L.A. was a hard city to feel at home in, and even harder to learn to love.
posted by scody at 8:54 PM on January 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

As another San Franciscan, the car culture is what kills it for me. I haven't had a car for almost twenty years, and I do just fine here. Not so in LA.

That said, I may not be qualified to answer the question, because I don't actively hate LA. I like LACMA, the Getty, and a lot of the mid-twentieth-century architecture. Forest Lawn Cemetery.

But the cars. Oh my god.
posted by trip and a half at 8:55 PM on January 2, 2008

The airport smells funny.
posted by drleary at 8:59 PM on January 2, 2008

We lived in L.A. from 1980 to 1985. I hated every moment of it.

1) I felt like I was living the Red Queen's quote from "Through
the Looking Glass;"
"You have to run as fast as you can just to stay in place;
if you want to go anywhere, you have to run twice as fast."

2) I never felt like I could really trust anyone. Everyone seemed
to have an ulterior and self-serving motivation for every
interaction - kind of a defense mechanism for living in a such
a pressure cooker place with all those other people, I suppose.
And if they had a chance to screw you over to accomplish something,
they would.

3) Hot! Hot and smoggy! 88 f'in degrees at 8 a.m. and smoggy, to
boot! I needed a way to escape from the heat and there was none.

4) Santa Ana winds. God help me.

5) There was none of what I call "land magic;" What it is when
you can feel and see the land and the sea and the trees and
the rivers and whatever other natural features a place has and the
calming or grounding energy they produce. I was told that L.A.
had been corn fields at one time, but it had long since been paved
over when we lived there. I need to have a sense of land magic where
I live. I couldn't deal with asphalt only.

6) A sense of danger - like we could be mugged, robbed,
car-jacked or murdered, at random, any time. Having police
helicopters overhead shining spotlights into your back yard
looking for evildoers some nights didn't help my sense of

7) People everywhere. There was nowhere you could go in
public, no where at all, and be alone.

I came to L.A. from the Pacific Northwest and I live in Northern
California now. I am very grateful to be where there is considerable
"land magic" and you can actually go out some places and be alone.
posted by Lynsey at 9:01 PM on January 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

1) Whereabouts are you from originally/live now. (To understand the contrast between Los Angeles and the culture that you originated from, if there is any.)

Born, raised and currently living in Indiana.

2) How much time have you have spent in LA in your life, and how recently.

I go to LA once or twice a year for work.

4) If you have spent time in LA, how did it meet or miss your low/high expectations? Have your opinions on the place changed over the years?

I didn't really have any expectations, and I can admit that Santa Monica was really lovely. I loved that I could walk to the grocery. I loved how efficient public transportation was, and how convenient stores and shops were. (At home, we joke that the sidewalks roll up at 6 pm. It's not far from the truth; we have blue laws for all kinds of prohibited purchases on Sunday, etc., etc..) So the novelty of it was fun, and when I have to go there, I do have to admit, everything's very convenient.

But it's hideously expensive- shockingly expensive compared to Indiana. The first time I came on business, I ended up holed in my hotel for the weekend. I wasn't afraid, I had plenty of invitations, but the shuttle from the airport to my hotel was so expensive, I had enough to pay for it back when I had to leave, and not much more. All I ate that weekend was shaved turkey and white bread, because that's what I could manage and still make it back to the airport when my trip was over. I was *not* prepared for how expensive it is, and I try to keep my trips very short now because of that.

5) WHY do you hate it? WHAT do you hate about it? Is it a general impression? Or was it a specific experience?

I just find that LA and I don't match. Everyone is constantly eating out; I've never seen a fridge in LA that contained much beyond mixers and juice. For someone who cooks dinner nearly every night, and goes out to eat as a treat, it's overwhelming. As noted above, it's wickedly expensive and I do simply get tired of eating out; I really like to stay home and make something myself, but that's just not the culture (I experienced.)

And it seems like- please keep in mind, I'm a screenwriter, so I spend most of my time with industry people- all people can talk about when they eat is how much they're going to have to starve, or exercise, or starve and exercise to make up the calories. It drives me insane, listening to size 2 women complain about their egregious girth while rolling a couple of grape tomatoes around. So not only are we always eating out, no one seems to enjoy it. Coming from the midwest, where meals ARE socialization, it's just miserable.

Mostly, though, what I loathe about LA isn't LA itself. It's doing business in LA. I don't enjoy the industry culture; I'm not big on going out, doing lunch, having drinks, stopping for tapas, hitting a couple of clubs- but this business is constantly in motion. So many people thrive on it, and LA seems like a city absolutely designed for it. It's just not me. I just don't fit, so I loathe those trips when I have to go and do my best to keep up.

So I think I can safely say, I don't actually hate LA. The ocean is neat; the convenience is awesome, but I still really loathe going there. It's just not my style. I don't think my buzz-happy LA friends would be very happy in slow, poky Indianapolis, either.
posted by headspace at 9:03 PM on January 2, 2008

(I think it's hysterical how many people here have talked about how awful public transport in LA is. That should tell you how terrible it is in Indiana- I was amazed with the magic of a bus every 15 minutes. In Indianapolis, you're lucky to get one every hour 15 minutes!)
posted by headspace at 9:05 PM on January 2, 2008

I've never been to LA.
I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now live in Baltimore.
The car culture is probably the main reason I would never want to move to LA.
posted by Airhen at 9:11 PM on January 2, 2008

Best answer: I hate that god-awful song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:41 PM on January 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

Born Hawaii; lived New England and Mid-Atlantic many years; currently Sf Bay Area resident. Haven't been to L.A. in years.

But I remember one of my first visits there, when I was a kid: as the plane descended, the view out the window went from blue sky and clouds to a sort of orangey-brown layer of...something that I later understood was smog. I'd never been somewhere with smog like that, and that impression has stayed with me for many years. Not sure if that qualifies as hate, but I have no desire to go back.
posted by rtha at 10:00 PM on January 2, 2008

Never lived in L.A.. Grew up in Colorado, now live in Berkeley. Two comments from friends about L.A. that make me disinclined to consider it in my current relocation efforts:

1) "L.A. is fine, except the driving. You want to get a coffee? 30 minute drive. Want to meet a friend? 30 minute drive. Grocery store? 30 minute drive."

2) (from a friend with ample, natural, breastage) "I got so sick of people asking me where I got my boob job."

These things typify my rather unfounded, highly negative impression of SoCal in general and L.A. in particular.

Oh also L.A. doesn't have the same sort of downtown that a place like SF has. At least so I'm told (only been a few times myself, mostly in transit other places).
posted by nat at 10:03 PM on January 2, 2008

The moms here seem to use their kids as weapons...either in the "little billy is just so perfect at everything" sense, or in the literal sense...they RAM their baby carriages into you even if there is plenty of room for them, you HAVE to pay attention to their little monster. Oh and the screaming running noisy uncontrolled little creatures in the restaurants/movies/malls and don't DARE to ask the mom to stop the little rat bastard from kicking your grandmother's wheelchair WHILE SHE'S IN IT, that is stiffling their creativity and free expression and is Just Not Done.

(sorry, I'm a resident, but I hadda chime in with that one :)
posted by legotech at 10:33 PM on January 2, 2008

1) Northern California
2) Visited often about 10 years ago (once a month for 3 years, also lived in Riverside)
3) Parent married an industry employee. I went to school at Riverside.
4) Actually LA wasn't as bad as I'd been raised to believe.
5) WHY do you hate it?

Water- LA takes Northern Californian water. And Arizona water. And water that should probably be getting to Mexico but never reaches it.
Water- and then they waste it!
Lawns in the desert!
No drip irrigation! They FLOOD their lawns and orange groves during the hottest part of the day!
Swimming pools that are rarely used, and all of them private!

Water-and they don't care! They don't even know, most of them!

Ego - LA-ians are convinced they're in the only part of California that counts. California to them is palm trees and the Baywatch/San Diego vanity culture. Oh. And there's some stuff up north, too. Where the Castro is, and those quaint Victorian houses.

Bland aesthetics that seem to be contagious- their faux-old-Mexico aesthetic has taken over the rest of California. Small towns in the Sierras now have strip malls with cheap terra cotta roofs and flat, stucco walls. These start falling apart and looking crappy the first time a decent storm hits. Guess what- LA stucco is not suited for the Sierras.

Entitlement- Besides the water, the really annoying thing is their oblivious sense of entitlement. Actually, I guess that goes with the water, too. They're too important, too busy, to worry about things like where their food, water, labor, clothes, etc come from. Take take take! And give back... what?

Traffic- Your whole life revolves around the traffic patterns. That's true up north here, too, though, at least in the Bay Area. Not so much in the real Northern California.

On the plus side, I found the movie industry trappings enchantingly surreal (I mean, to how many of you has it occurred to fakes a split rail fence out of cement?!). There were also a lot of goofy, arty projects and places that no one thought were anything out of the ordinary. (Rodin sculptures at the La Brea tar pits?) Nothing interesting is grouped- you had to be told about them, or just stumble on them, which is hard in a place that sprawled out. (I finally had to get a map. In Northern California if you drive too far, within a few miles you hit a river, mountain, or the ocean, and then you know you need to turn around. In southern California if you drive too far you end up in Barstow, 100 miles away.)

I found a lot of smart, creative people there, though it was hard to make friends. It's so spread out that it's not like you're going to run into the same people at the Whole Foods. You have to go out of your way to make friends. I think that's why everyone takes yoga or whatever. And people are flakey there, even more than up north. I just got used to it- you start hearing the signals for when people are sincere and when they're just avoiding saying no.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:55 PM on January 2, 2008

I hope you've seen this comment from loquacious. It's one of the most eloquent "Fuck Los Angeles" rants I've ever read.
posted by dersins at 11:02 PM on January 2, 2008

My father and I were visiting a friend of his at a house he was renting "in LA" when I was ten or so (since it's LA, I guess name-dropping is appropriate: it was John Frankenheimer) and Dad's friend mentioned in passing that he wasn't sure what city the house was in. For some reason that horrified me - maybe because as like any young Manhattanite I had a strong sense of my geographical boundaries - and I still get a queasy sense of being unmoored from reality when I contemplate Los Angeles. I've never set foot there since.
posted by nicwolff at 11:04 PM on January 2, 2008

1) San Diego born and bred. And where I'm from (north, suburbs), we've got a whole lotta hate for LA. Apparently, LA is totally oblivious (according to my friend from Long Beach), but there are good chunks of SD that utterly loathe LA.
2) Until mid-year 07, very little. I had never even flown into or out of LAX (positively unheard of, considering how small Lindbergh is). I drove to Hollywood a couple of times during college to party at clubs (college was in the Inland Empire), once to the opera, etc.
3) Yeah, I moved to LA. As I keep telling people, if UCLA wasn't in LA, I wouldn't be here now. But there's only certain places in the country that have my grad program, so there ya go.
4) Eh, it's better than I thought it would be. I also keep telling people that in air quality, traffic, and other fun things, SD is turning into LA even more than in the past. So, I came here pretty used to the bad things, and with terrifically low expectations, and thus it was easy for the city to exceed them.
5) I grew up hating it, and I admit that that's mitigated a bit now that I live here. BUT, c'mon, the traffic?! Lord, people cannot drive here! (Hello, if I'm making an unprotected left and I'm on, say, Wilshire, the light's GOING to turn red before I get my chance to go--don't honk at me!) Also, suburbanite that I am, I admit to missing some of the big box stores (Target isn't wholly bad, after all). Finally, any library system that restricts users to ten books at a time gets an auto fail in my book, especially a system as big as LAPL. Other than that, I hate on LA because it isn't as cool as SD and never will be!
posted by librarylis at 11:13 PM on January 2, 2008

(oops, I missed the bit about residents...ah well, I still hate it!)
posted by librarylis at 11:14 PM on January 2, 2008

Response by poster: (it's ok. and fwiw, I'm basically from where you're from.)
posted by miss lynnster at 11:20 PM on January 2, 2008

I probably shouldn't be here because, while I hate L.A., I loathe it a bit less then most other major U.S. cities. The smog, traffic, scarce parking and endless landscape of cement, asphalt and mini-malls is enough to drive me batty every time I am forced to enter the city. It seems more jarring and congested every time I visit. Getting my car window broken every couple of months, and the occasional home break-in when I lived there was unpleasant too.

I do love living near L.A., and I have to take exception to: "I'm always depressed by the narrow selection of wildlife.". I think that L.A. is one of the better cities when it comes to access to nature, with the Santa Monica Mountains cutting through the heart of it. I've seen a group of five deer between Crescent Heights and Coldwater, south of Mulholland, and numerous raptors and rabbits as well as coyotes. The deer have a tough time of it crossing the 405 though.
posted by Manjusri at 1:04 AM on January 3, 2008

Tom Bradley International Terminal. In fact, LAX in general, but the international terminal in particular.

You mean I have to uncheck my bags from my connecting flight myself, walk them to Tom Bradley myself, then line up and check back in as if I were a new passenger? All for a code-share flight? Thanks, LAX!

Also, if you're going to bus me to my plane that is approximately 10000000 km from the gate door, please don't try to hide that fact. Just let me know ahead of time.

Also, where are there seats right in the middle of the corridors?

Blarg. Tom Bradley, whoever you are, I'm sorry your name is associated with that monstrosity.
posted by generichuman at 2:12 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Born in Texas. Raised in Florida and then New Jersey, right across the water from Manhattan ("bridge and tunnel'er"). Boston after that, where I stayed for nearly a decade. Nebraska for a couple of years. Portland, Maine, now. Have travelled extensively across Europe, Africa and Asia.

Drove across the country once on a lark with a friend of mine, and ended up in L.A. Stayed long enough to have every negative stereotype confirmed, then promptly left. That took about three days. Where to start?
  1. As mentioned above, the weather sucks. Now, San Francisco had some wonderful weather. But it's amazing what 5.5 hours of longitudinal driving can do to fuck that up. L.A. is a sticky-hot mess, compounded with the air quality of a 24-hour big-rig diesel truck stop. I find it infinitely amusing that the people there are so vehemently anti-smoking, considering they live in an open-air equivalent of a smoky dive bar. It's no wonder they never leave their cars--like Florida, they merely shuffle from one air-conditioned environment to another. And think what that does to your sense of fashion: for all the talk of the fashionistas of L.A., summer swelter has the exact opposite effect on wardrobe options. In L.A., it's all about the absence of clothing, because it's too fucking hot to ever wear more than loincloth made of cheesecloth. That's why everyone is so body-obsessed: they have no choice! Their bodies are almost permanently on display. There's no hiding those extra twenty pounds you can't get rid of under layers, no sweaters or coats or overcoats or topcoats or peacoats. No boots (not practical ones, anyway...), no gloves, no mittens, hardly even an excuse for long sleeves, and forget about a nice suit unless it's made of wrinkle-crazy linen. The rest of the world uses this amazing stuff called wool--you'll find it in the finest suits of Saville Row or Milan. But there's no point in L.A. You'll just end up sweating through it and smelling bad, and you can't have that in L.A. No, that would ruin the all-important image, which is essentially "try and pretend like none of that shit bothers me." Which is the complete opposite of a place like New York, where, if something bothers somebody, they'll be out on a street corner standing on a milk crate with a megaphone. In L.A., that's a sign of weakness.
  2. The city sucks. "WHAT city?!" Do you mean "Downtown", or do you mean Santa Monica, or Beverly Hills, or Hollywood, or Inglewood, or Compton, or Torrance, or Culver City or... WHATTHEFUCKINGCHRIST? OK, let's just start with what can only laughingly be called "Downtown." In every major metropolitan area of every other country I've ever visited, "Downtown" has a certain meaning. Downtown is the oldest part of the city. It's the most established. Downtown is where the skyscrapers are. Downtown is where the action is. Downtown is fucking open at night. Not in L.A. No, in L.A., "Downtown" means "Ghost Town" once the sun goes down. Where's the city life? I mean, it's supposed to be a city, right? Where are all the people? Where are the shops? Where are the bars? "Oh, there's a great bar on such-and-such in Hollywood..." [...] "Oh, there's some great shopping in Beverly Hills..." yeah, yeah, but what about fucking downtown, the epicenter of your sad little existence? Fuck that, right? Because downtown L.A., unlike every other single city of merit around the world, is like two miles inland. It's not on the fucking water. No, if you want water, you've got to drive to water. See ya' in an hour. That's about how long it will take to navigate through the sprawl, on to the freeways, down to Whatever del Ray and then find a parking spot. Of course, once you get to wherever you're going, prepare your brain for another two hours of waiting outside the restaurant you booked your reservations for ten weeks in advance because, well, you're obviously nobody important.
  3. There's no point talking about the traffic. It sucks, and there's a shitload of it. The city was designed for automobiles, so if you want to "walk" (how quaint!) you have to go someplace designed to publicly display that your brain still retains the lower-level functions necessary for the activity. I would like to amend that quickly to add that L.A. drivers are, from this Boston and New York driver's mind, pathetic. Not just bad. Florida drivers are bad, but that's because they're 90 and didn't take their pills. L.A. drivers have no fucking excuse. You're basically raised in cars, for Christ's sake! How can you drive so poorly? Easy! Because your city is too fucking spread-out. You've got highways intermixed with city streets intermixed with sub-suburban housing, and they all require a certain mode of thinking that are, for the most part, completely incompatible with each other. In Boston or New York, you only have to concentrate in the "city style" of driving, which is: be aggressive, be decisive, don't hit anybody. Whereas highway driving is more, "stay the course." L.A. is a schizophrenic mess: one minute, you're flying across the highway at top speed to get in front of the asshole next to you who won't let you merge, the next, you have to drive 10 mph. because the local town council made up of Important People who hardly step foot on city soil decided it was too dangerous to go any faster. City driving means city parking as well. You guys can't parallel park for shit.
  4. I just love your mass-transit system. For a world-class city, you really have so many options.
  5. L.A. people don't swear nearly as often as they should. In the movies when they show the high-power movie exec, he's swearing his ass off. But in real life, they keep all that expressive power bottled up; if you're swearing, you've clearly lost your cool, man. By the time they do finally flip their lid, you'd better be way the fuck back from the action, because bodies will hit the street
  6. The architecture sucks. Oh sure, the three buildings erected before 1940 that haven't been torn down to make way for parking lots or strip malls look swell. Everything else is just varying grades of efficiency at the sake of posterity. Concrete is wonderful stuff, sure... to build skyscrapers and tunnels with. And yet here's the irony: the city sprawls precisely because the architects are fucking morons. Hey clue-masters, maybe you wouldn't have a housing shortage if you idiots built up instead of out. You know, with all that fucking concrete you're using? For that matter, the real estate market sucks. What's a million dollars get you these days? A three-bed in a semi-nice neighborhood where the public schools ponied up the dough for metal detectors? With all that land, that's the best you can do?
  7. The people of L.A. have that special blend of unabashed egotism and eager monotony that makes them boring as fuck.

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:44 AM on January 3, 2008 [7 favorites]

I'm from and currently live in Chicago. I was in LA once, in 1993 when I was fourteen. My family took a vacation where we flew to San Diego, rented a car, and drove up the coast to San Francisco, visiting as many stops along the way as possible. We were in LA for two, maybe three days. Before going there, I knew nothing of LA, good or bad. I knew plenty of its little tumor, Hollywood, but the city itself was completely unknown to me and open to interpretation. I hated it. Every part of it looks the same and it sprawls out for miles. There didn't appear to be any community diversity. And again, the city just spread everywhere, as if it were originally a giant drop of molasses that some mischievous deity had dropped on the California coast and watched as it slowly crept across the countryside, consuming everything in its path like an amoeba.

Again, I was fourteen and there very briefly, but these were my impressions.

Also, there was a moderate earthquake while we were there which was actually, coming from Chicago, kind of cool.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 4:29 AM on January 3, 2008

I was born in San Diego and moved to suburban LA as a teenager. I hated the weather. Hated it! Hot and dry all the time. I hate hot weather. Boring. I hated the weather in San Diego too. Now I live in Syracuse, NY and I like the weather better. Not bored. I'm walking down to the park to do a little skiing soon.

I also hate it that in LA you are judged by the car you drive. This is true to some extent in most places but it's over the top in LA.
posted by Melsky at 5:51 AM on January 3, 2008

1) I live in Atlanta.
2) I visited there once, about 7 years ago.
3) N/A
4) I was looking forward to a big, fun city. I lik cities. It was smoggy, dirty, traffic-y, full of bleached blondes and had a total lack of character.
5) It's artificial, excessively commmercial, has no charm whatsoever. Chicago, NYC, London, SF, Seattle, Tampa/St. Pete, even Atlanta are all preferable!

yes, I decided this on a 4-day trip.
posted by pointystick at 6:07 AM on January 3, 2008

Oops, "like" not "lik".

Also, it's expensive. Boo, LA!
posted by pointystick at 6:08 AM on January 3, 2008

I'm Canadian, spent one week there on a business trip and it's the one city in the world I don't ever want to visit again.

After picking up our rental car, someone decided to drop in on our LA office. It took us three hours to get there (a few miles away). So the first 3 hours I spent in LA were stuck in traffic.

Before I went, I was warned about taxis. An LA resident told me that you cannot hail a taxi on the street or call a cab from your cell phone. If you need to get a cab, you have to get a business (e.g. the restaurant you're eating at) to phone one for you. If you're in LA and your cab gets stolen, don't say, "I'll just walk down to the corner there and try to hail one". Standing on a street corner in a not particularly bad neighbourhood trying to hail a taxi was the most terrifying hour of my life.

My company put me up at the Westin Bonaventure, where we proceeded to have incredibly lazy, incompetent, and malicious service throughout our stay. The quality of service was so terrible that a coworker complained to the management, who offered our entire party (about 8 people) a free meal at the restaurant at the top of the hotel. When we got there, our waiter, who must have been informed that we were having a complimentary meal, and probably knew why, proceeded to offer outright aggressively bad service - one thing I remember is him literally dropping the plates onto the table from about six inches up. We then went to his manager and said, politely, that we would like our waiter to know that even though the meal was being comped, we were still planning on offering him a tip. The waiter then proceeded to be ingratiatingly, over the top polite for the rest of the evening. It still astonishes me that a service worker at a decent restaurant would act like a petulant child because the people he was serving didn't meet his expectations.

I can see LA being fabulous if you're wealthy or famous (ideally both). I got treated like shit because I was neither. That's why I hate LA.

Oh - and I almost forgot - the first night I was there I was woken up by an earthquake (this was the big one in '99). That was actually pretty cool in retrospect.
posted by Gortuk at 8:07 AM on January 3, 2008

Best answer: Have you seen In Smog and Thunder? Not directly related, but it could provide some interesting perspective.
posted by electroboy at 8:09 AM on January 3, 2008

From DC, live in DC, I spent a week there in 2000 for my cousin's wedding. It was simultaneously better and worse than I expected. Enough has been said about the air quality/traffic/phonies, so I'll skip to:

5) WHY do you hate it? WHAT do you hate about it? Is it a general impression? Or was it a specific experience? As I said, any specific stories that capture your impressions of the place or moments that you turned against it are very, very welcome.

A very specific experience- Since I was in LA for the whole week, I decided to see what weekly car rental deals were available. Budget had a reasonable deal for a Ford Ranger with a cab so I booked that in advance. I get to the car rental lot to pick up the vehicle and I see it- a bright yellow Ford Ranger. In the year 2000. When Baywatch was still popular. I felt this sense of burning shame driving that thing around in public as everyone stared at the accidental Hasselhoff.

I thought that Venice Beach pretty much was LA's "downtown".
posted by Challahtronix at 8:48 AM on January 3, 2008

1) I was born in Arcadia, CA, lived in Altadena until I was 18, moved to Tacoma, WA for college, and have stayed in this area ever since. Have lived in Olympia since 2002. Also, both of my parents were raised in southern California, as were my grandparents on my father's side.

2) See above. :) I've only visited LA three times since I graduated from college in 1992: almost 10 years ago for sister's HS graduation, 7 or 8 years ago for an uncle's funeral, and 4 years ago for my mother's 60th birthday. Mostly it's been an issue of time and money -- not having enough of either.

3) N/A

4) I was desperate to leave as a teenager, but as an adult I go through phases of ambivalence. There are some things that I remember with great fondness, and things that are part of my family background, cultural experience, etc. But I can't ever imagine moving back full-time.

5) I remember all the hot smoggy summers of my childhood -- we lived fairly close to the San Gabriel Mtns, but about half the time in the summer you wouldn't know they were there. And the meltingness of the heat on the vast expanses of concrete. It was a PITA to get anywhere as a teenager w/out a car; I did pretty well with a bus pass, but it meant that I had a fairly small circle of travel.

The intensity of the disparity between rich areas and poor ones. I remember realizing at some point in my early teens that you could instantly tell how rich a neighborhood was by how many trees were in it. The schools I went to were underfunded and full of racial conflict.

And the overall vastness is too much for me; so many people, and no real city. (By contrast, I love Portland & SF, like Seattle, and enjoyed my one trip to Austin. Have never been to New York or Chicago. And Olympia feels tiny, but at the same time, human-sized.)

My SO, who grew up around here, talks about moving someplace sunny someday, and I just have this visceral reaction, this memory of flat hazy heat. When he mentions it, I tend to freak out.

(Oh, and I just noticed the note about expensive: two of my cousins moved to Denver because they couldn't afford to live in LA, and my sister still lives at home for much the same reason.)
posted by epersonae at 8:56 AM on January 3, 2008

...and I hate that LA gets the north's water.

...and I hate that world- /nationwide perceptions of California are largely based on stereotypes and assumptions about LA. California isn't all a big Baywatch episode.

THIS. As a Norcal dweller I agree wholeheartedly with these points. That and it is a big, dirty, concrete, pit of despair.
posted by Big_B at 8:57 AM on January 3, 2008

generichuman: Tom Bradley was The Mayor pretty much the whole time I lived in so. Cal. (Actually, according to Wikipedia, he became mayor a year before I was born and left office a year after I left. So yeah, he was The Mayor.)
posted by epersonae at 9:03 AM on January 3, 2008

Born and raised in NJ, have loved and visited NYC all of my life (my sister lives in Brooklyn now). Have lived in MA for my adult life (17 years or so). I visited LA a bunch of times over the past 11 years for business; mostly Hollywood/Burbank, though a few times I visited I had some free time and did some exploring. (I've also visited the Bay Area and other northern Cali spots, and loved it; I am not anti-California.)

I hate LA because the people there seem incredibly selfish and self-centered, always looking to get ahead no matter who gets shit upon in the process. I despise the importance placed on appearances, the unquestioned worship of youth, and the pathetic fear of aging. People there spend so much money and time on what they look like -- imagine what incredible things could be done with that time and money!

I also think the weather is dismal. I've been lucky enough to be there during the Santa Anas, when the wind blows the smog away and the sky actually gets blue for a few hours... But most of the time it's hot and muggy, and the haze lays over everything like a cancerous blanket... Which just reminds me of how many people are sitting on the freeway in their cars, with their windows closed and the A/C going full blast, puking exhaust into the air. It's incredibly depressing.

Don't get me started on the whole water-stealing/wasting thing. It gets me too angry.

And there's no there there. LA is the land of the strip mall. Malls have even taken over the historic parts of old Hollywood -- because fuck whatever history we have, it's way more important to have easy access to the latest, hottest clothes to match our new boobs and fake tans, right?

People say NYCers are rude, and that Yankees are reserved ... Maybe I'm just used to it, but they're all miles and miles more direct, truthful, and friendly than anyone I met in the stores and restaurants in LA. I worked with some fine people there, true, but none of them were LA natives.

I also hate that people from LA write "I'm from LA" and expect you to think "Los Angeles" and not "Louisiana." Because their crappy city is more important than an entire state. Right.
posted by chowflap at 9:34 AM on January 3, 2008

Also, if you're collecting "I hate LA" and "I love LA" comments for a book or an article, I hope you share it with us when you're done -- I'd love to read it!
posted by chowflap at 9:35 AM on January 3, 2008

Particularly after living in Boston/Cambridge and then Gdansk, there is no way I would want to live in a city designed for cars first, people second. I walk to work (10 minutes), walk to the grocery (2 minutes), walk to the woods (2 minutes), and take a safe tram or bus (five minutes walking to the stop, then a ten-minute ride for less than a dollar) if I want to go downtown, where I can then walk to everything within a few blocks or just hang around in a 1000-year-old town.

If LA were completely flattened by an earthquake, somehow without killing the residents but swallowing up all the cars, it would be a good day. Get that insurance money and start again, only this time build vertically, integrate housing and business at all levels, and build for 90 percent pedestrian traffic and public transport, 10 percent or less private cars.
posted by pracowity at 9:55 AM on January 3, 2008

As a future ex-resident of LA, I just wanted to say that Civil_Disobedient's comment nailed everything about LA that I've learned to hate in the last 3.5 years.

I will add to the list of stupid things about LA: Valley hatred/condescension from those in the basin. I've lived mostly in the Valley for my time here, though I did live in West LA for about 9 months. I've worked on both sides of the hill: Burbank, Hollywood, and Santa Monica. Stating that the Valley is worse than the basin is like saying that one pile of shit is better than a slightly runnier pile of shit. And people think they are better human beings for living in the first pile of shit.
posted by lovetragedy at 11:43 AM on January 3, 2008

1. Canadian: born and grew up in Edmonton, then moved to Toronto, then Hamilton. Now live in Cambridge, England.

2. Last March I spent two week in LA on account of a friend's wedding. That was my first and only visit.

3. N/A

4. I had no particular expectations, but LA did not strike me as a place I would ever want to live...

5. I couldn't stand the almost complete dependence on cars. I like not *having* to own a car, or at least not having to drive everywhere. And the traffic is horrible. And the freeways are horrible -- it says something when the city most known for its freeways has freeways that make you feel like you're in prison. (I must say, though, that the drivers seemed alright -- people were fairly courteous for the most part.) The whole car thing was the biggest problem. At least in Toronto you could get around without a car if necessary. The second thing I disliked the most was the relentless suburbification of the cities, and how depressing that seemed. Keep in mind, however, that I grew up in a suburb -- perhaps some people prefer them.

I spent a week in Mexico City just after my LA trip, and found that I *much* preferred Mexico City. The traffic was still bad, to be sure, but I preferred the food, the people, and general atmosphere, and even the air was better.

A small sample size, though. Perhaps on a different occasion I'd prefer LA over Mexico City. But even if I did, I cannot ever imagine preferring LA to any other city I've spent time in.
posted by alaaarm at 12:02 PM on January 3, 2008

1) I grew up on the east coast, mainly Philadelphia. I now live in Portland, OR.

2) I'd never been to LA until two years ago. I'd accepted a new job as a software/database trainer, which involves a lot of travel on the west coast. A massive amount of my customers are in the LA area, so I go down there several times a year, for a week at a time.

3) n/a, though I nearly moved there with a boyfriend, about five years ago, for his work. He didn't take the job in the end, we broke up soon after anyway: bullet dodged.

4) I don't think I necessarily had high expectations about LA, since I have a lot of friends in the entertainment industry who've shared the bad with me, but I guess I didn't think it would be as lousy as it actually is. Granted, I've only been to LA on work-related trips, which generally means driving to one customer site in the morning, praying I have enough time to get to the next customer's site in the afternoon, then falling into a heap in a hotel room at the end of the day. So there's not much room for relaxation while I'm there.

- I hated LA upon arrival. LAX is nasty. There are worse airports of course (hi, Las Vegas) but it's so grey and dismal.

- Yeah, the cliched "traffic is terrible" is obviously true. I've sort of accepted it at this point, and have tried to learn from painful experience. When I'm leaving a customer site in the afternoon, they often suggest that I just "hang out" in the area for awhile instead of getting on the freeway for the next couple hours. My impulse is to just chance it and leave, as all I really want to do is go to my next hotel, but I always regret doing so. Driving from Santa Monica to San Bernardino at 4pm is a terrible idea.

- As a kid, I dreamed of going to Disneyland. LA was this magical, mystical place. On my last trip, one of my stops for the night was Anaheim. As I drove into town, it was a scene of total gloom: dark skies, just pouring down rain. Driving past the Disneyland front entrance, I watched families dash across the street with balloons and Mickey-hatted children in tow, and this wave of depression just washed over me. I think I may have been playing some black metal at the time, just to amplify the mood.

- The few times I've gotten together with friends who live in LA, it's been this huge effort in planning to get to see them. Usually involves a 45 minute drive at least. These friends have since moved away.

- The brown strip of smog that you fly through when you leave; not a fan of that.

I feel on edge 'til I am safely back in Portland. It takes me a couple days to decompress from LA, to not have the feeling of being in perpetual motion.
posted by medeine at 12:34 PM on January 3, 2008

1) Whereabouts are you from originally/live now. (To understand the contrast between Los Angeles and the culture that you originated from, if there is any.)
I moved to North Hollywood from Portland, Oregon, and I lived in various placed in Oregon for thirteen years before coming here.

2) How much time have you have spent in LA in your life, and how recently.
I've been here almost two years now.

3) If you moved there as an adult, what brought you there? Why did you leave?
The Mouse brought me down here to work with online games. It's a great job, and I would've taken it if it was on the north pole (and would move there if they asked me), but LA will do. No plans to leave.

4) If you have spent time in LA, how did it meet or miss your low/high expectations? Have your opinions on the place changed over the years?
I was expecting it to be hotter, more smog, and generally more shallow people. However, I'm in a microcosm that's not really fitting the LA stereotype. I live 500 feet from work, so I don't have the typical LA commuting nightmare story. I wasn't prepared for how obsessed people are with television here.

And lastly...
5) WHY do you hate it? WHAT do you hate about it? Is it a general impression? Or was it a specific experience? As I said, any specific stories that capture your impressions of the place or moments that you turned against it are very, very welcome.

I hate listening to people whine about their commute :) Mainly I'm really disappointed with how much people care about television here. Back in Portland none of the crowd I rolled with really cared about what was happening on some lame TV show, but here everyone is a goddamned expert. I understand that it's big business here, and a lot of the people I hang out with are in 'the business' but it's still annoying.
posted by mullingitover at 5:06 PM on January 3, 2008

1) I was born in LA, lived there until I was 8, when we moved to Seattle. Moved to New York when I was 18 for college and live there still.
2) Those first 8 years, plus a couple weeks ever year until I was 14 or so. Lately, not so much
3) N/A for me, but my parents both moved there for job reasons (Architectural criticism and other freelance writing)
4) I used to hate it automatically because of the need to have a car no matter once, but more recently I learned to look past that to see it's redeeming qualities in terms of diverse cultures and the effect that has on the cultural feel there. Still not quite enough to make me stop hating it, though.
5) I hate it because I would have been in a magnet school of one type of another that would have made me be on a bus for hours, since the public schools in my neighborhood weren't great and we couldn't afford private school. I hate it because I don't consider myself the greatest driver, and I hate the idea of needing a car to get around. I've also grown to hate the new-age mystical "La-La Land" image it's gotten from writers like Francesca Lia Block (Oooh boy, my 13 year old self would have her jaw on the floor to hear me say that). These are all pretty standard and stereotypical reasons to hate the place, from what I can tell. Sorry for lack of originality.
posted by piratebowling at 5:10 AM on January 4, 2008

Oh! I almost forgot! I hated that first breath of air you'd get when you stepped off a plane at LAX. So muggy and nasty. Yuck.
posted by piratebowling at 5:12 AM on January 4, 2008

Librarylis, there is not a 10 book check out limit at LAPL. I have 20 books out presently, and can't recall the last time I was told I'd hit a limit.
posted by Scram at 9:48 AM on January 4, 2008

Way late in posting, but, hey.

1) Like quite a few here, including yourself, I'm a native San Diegan, and also a sports fan although not a rabid one. So, hating LA is totally in my blood. I don't know why exactly that is, but San Diegans pretty much hate LA for no real reason. Maybe it's because if we plan on going anywhere north of LA we have to plan our whole driving schedule around avoiding (hahaha!) traffic there.
2) My grandmother lived in Westchester, and my mom was an LA native, so I've been there quite a bit to visit, and then just the occasional day/overnight trip just for kicks every once in a while. The last couple years I've had friends living in northern OC that I've visited, and we occasionally make forays into the darker regions of the basin. Note: as far as I'm concerned, everything north of the 405/5 split is LA. If the only way I can tell what city I'm in is from the roadside signs, it's the same damn city.
3) N/A
4) My opinion of LA has actually improved quite a bit recently, to the point that I'd actually consider living there (in certain areas), but since I've been going there since before I could form cogent thoughts and memories, I can't really say how the experience reconciled with my expectations.
5) For the longest time, I just hated LA because of the vast nothingness it seems to be. There's miles upon miles of...what? Suburban tract homes and strip malls? The whole place just seems dead. And then the traffic and having to plan around it as I mentioned earlier, and having to negotiate it to get the 20 miles from where you currently are to the other halfway decent place you'd like to get to. Just for all that, it's just a stupid, stupid way to build a city, and I hate having to fight it to be able to do anything. And it's not just the traffic--it's the layout and the lack of left turn lanes that make everything a pain in the ass. I shouldn't devleop bleeding ulcers trying to get to Amoeba.

I hate the stylish plasticness too, but we have that down here as well, so I think I'm already innoculated and I just don't notice it that much when I'm up there.

Coming from San Diego, I could give a shit about the weather there. Ours is better and our beaches are nicer and we actually have topographical variation. Nyaaah!!
posted by LionIndex at 12:36 PM on January 4, 2008

Hope this isn't too late.

1) Currently living in LA, previously lived in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.

2) 9 years in LA, spanning my teens and early adulthood.

3) I wasn't happy to be moving to LA in the first place with the family, because I was hoping to live in Western Europe. I'm still trying to escape the place.

4) LA, well, it defies reality. There are so many surreal moments (fake snow in a desert city, Superman mugging for photographs in Hollywood, car etc). Sometimes I wonder if the LA that's shown on tv shows/movies exists. The first few years was exciting because LA is the magnet for so much hype -- people talk of scripts they're writing, or actors they knew, and of breaking into the entertainment industry. Then I realised I really have nothing in common with most people from LA.

5) Oh, I have lots to hate about LA that's already been mentioned: the weather, pollution, traffic, lack of public transportation, elitism, the celebrity obsession. Most of all, what really gets me is that people are segregated. If not by location, then by their thinking. A lot of my mum's friends gossiped about the decision to move to Palos Verdes, a mostly-white area. Although our part is mostly working-class and there's a sprinkling of colour here and there, we were bashed for not wanting to stay with 'our kind'. It's like, 'Woah, you think you're better than us' or 'Something is wrong with you if you prefer to live in the suburb with white people.' That's a totally ridiculous idea, and besides I don't see any one place specifically for us mixed-raced families in Los Angeles.

The high school I went to had students bused in from South-Central, but the people who owned houses in the neighbourhoods were 6-figures wealthy. It was so strange to see cops around a school to break up gangfights near a home that sells for a nearly a million.

There's not a lot of social cohesion in things like education or healthcare here since people take it for granted that if you don't like it, send your kids to private schools or go to private hospitals.

Now I'm resigned to living here until I can escape. For all its various guises, I much prefer the LA of Raymond Chandler, because it accurately describes the corrupt, soul-sucking atmosphere of the city but in a much more entertaining way. An Angeleno may also never realise this until he or she visits a much more welcoming city. Everytime I head back from San Francisco to LAX, I get so depressed.
posted by sweetlyvicious at 6:22 PM on January 4, 2008

Response by poster: Never too late. It all helps me.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:11 PM on January 4, 2008

Scram, I mefi-mailed you (yes, you're right, and no, you're wrong)
posted by librarylis at 11:51 PM on January 4, 2008

I'm a native currently living in NY...don't hate it the way I do the Midwest (the pseudohyperfriendliness; I would much rather be treated with contempt--as I am by elitists in NY and LA-- or suspicion--as I am in the deep south-- because they are genuine), but don't belong there. Where I feel most content is New England .

The other cities in LA county have their own feel...at first sight the Burbank and Glendale suburbs aren't really different from the rest of the SF valley, but I can tell when I'm there.

Frankenheimer came to speak at a screening at LACMA about ten years ago; most people who did would talk about what it was like to work on the films. His story was about when he was shooting in Europe and given the use of a perfectly good luxury car-- but pulled attitude and demanded one which was top of the line.

Piratebowling, remember that FLB also applies her magical realism to New York and San Francisco. She's also written a book of erotica.
posted by brujita at 12:04 PM on January 6, 2008

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