Opinion

Searching for LA

The Life and Times of a Los Angeles Local

I have lived in LA County for about 7 years and I love it. It’s been a good abate sometimes rocky ride. Sometimes I am looking for the true Angeleno experience. Since 2020 began, I have faced many changes including news and circumstances I never expected I’d encounter or be through. It’s the time that changed me, often in ways I did not really expect.

Since around 2016, I have grown more attached to Los Angeles and that’s what prompted me to write this. I have grown both into the culture, richness and History of vibrant LA and woke to the not-that-vibrant side. I have seen a rise in real problems in the City. What do you do when businesses keep getting more expensive and it is harder to find work than ever? During the Trump years, I saw a lot of social changes and sometimes radical turns: and it was hard to find employment and true connection. Well, oftentimes. I also found hope, often in the pleasant almost gray-toned light of Asian markets, Huntington Beach, and Toluca Lake caf├ęs.

By 2016, summer, I was out of school and for these next five years I was in a tidal pull. LA on one side, those mountains on the other. I wanted to find local meaning but I saw homelessness, competition and even stories of racism. My friends in the city, many of whom not white or rich, had a different view of things. I felt this was my crowd as a post-college student now seeking work. (You don’t always take the school out the kid, even when the kid is out of the school.) I found a science fiction meet-up about this time. They helped me find my inner Ellison in time (LASFS).

As a writer just beginning to build a career and a ex-student wondering if I’d ever complete my Biology degree, I often get by on the help of good people. The people in my life matter. I found relationships, friendship and who you knew meant everything. Slowly I felt LA was bringing me into its story, or so I felt. I found a few mentors and did began an apprenticeship. Yet life has a funny way… Covid struck around that time too.

Truth is, Los Angeles is a very competitive city. According to a fellow newcomer who’d moved here a while back (and one of my closer friends since 2016) LA has become more populated than New York City. Wow! I love the rich background and People of LA but sadly I live in the reality of over-competition. Getting a job, finishing school, building a lasting career, paying rent. In the last 20 years, costs and demands evolved much more than pay and work. Most of my SoCal friends are stuck in the dungeon crawl of this over-grind. What can people do to make life easier on young Angelos?

My summer beach trips into Long Beach and Santa Monica often saved me from an in-between time of heat, job-hunting and boredom. This was especially true in 2016 to 2018. The San Pedro Fish Market is one of my favorite fixtures outside of LA, a convenient stop before heading to beaches or back home. Local business is often small, Cali casual and charming. I love China Town and often mid autumn, my fam and I head there to the Plum Tree Inn, our favorite stop. The rich Angeleno history of fishermen, Latino business, public art, and Hollywood always gets me. Sometimes I feel a little like I’m following in the footsteps of Humphrey Bogart.

So far, I have seen a lot of difficult days and sometimes long periods of local living haze. A church group offered community and relative safety amid a sea of change. To be the writer I am now, I had family support and some encouragement but I come from a small family with a single mother. Mi madre is my lifeline and blood family. To me, family matters. Yet many people I know in LA aren’t so lucky. You almost need a sense of luck or vibrant spirit to make it. Los Angeles is not the Hollywood world brimming with talent or the cool modern community it’s advertised as. In reality it is a difficult and sometimes tense city, a place in need of more social togetherness and inter-community love. That’s what I notice. People often come together when things are tough, seeing this gives me hope.

I see the younger generations wanting a more diverse LA, where new immigrants can be totally integrated and young people and families are more represented. Will this be a more art-oriented LA, more scientific, or just more political and democratic? I really don’t know but I think LA has astounded me. From the beautiful Hollywood area to the mysterious old wealth of Bel Air, East LA’s rich Chicano culture and strong community and Diversity throughout the city, I feel LA is less like a urban hub. More like 50 communities living together and building in tandem. In this I see is Los Angeles’ strength. We can build more of what we’ve been building.

But my, it is hot in here. LA’s summers reflect global warming trends (and seem to be much hotter than ever). With these last few years being hotter than Hades, it’s been a wild ride. I really hope Los Angeles prioritizes green solutions and fighting climate change, especially local climate change and fire hazards. I feel a lot of us are affected. Many, many Angelenos work during the day outdoors and helping improve conditions of outdoor labor during these times is a priority. LA is a strong place and I’ve seen a lot of culture and creativity, Hollywood influences and brave little ideas. But the need to fight local climate change, smog and rising poverty is complicated.

I’m no economist and I tend to have more social than practical views, but I believe LA’s uniqueness and diversity (and creative diversity) is in its favor, it has built up a true cosmopolitan city. I have been pretty affected by the inequality I’ve seen but also given hope and credence by local causes, environmental teamwork and the cases of community optimism I see. Small businesses in my area (Burbank) have not all done well under Covid, some shut down, some did not respect the outbreak… but many old and small businesses did survive. I think that’s because the loyal support of locals, all of us who care about small, immigrant and family-owned stores, eateries, and other local spots. This is the part of LA that really makes this town and I think I can expound on this observation as the days go by.

While my family and I travel a lot locally, our inter-city adventures to San Diego, North State and to Bear Lake, we have been less lately. 2020 was the year the world stood still, and California’s beautiful city’s seemed to be central to this. I do see signs of progress and innovation. I have not gotten out as much as I think we all wanted to. 2020-now shaped my views on my own privilege, humility and need to buy and Appreciate local. With both Moderna jabs in me and follow-ship of all safety calls, I am doing and feeling fine. I’m glad to have seen Friends and family since the pandemic begin. To be honest, I really can’t wait to visit Hawaii and see more of SoCal, and beyond. On this note, we should all practice social distance and be safe.

As travel, work, and even social living all changed so much, I feel it’s shaped me away from fun-oriented and social conformity and more towards attentive and self-aware trends. It’s made me a more responsible person. By now I have connected with others like me, writers, Artists and a few journalists. To be honest, in a world of local and Online community, I often find it harder finding it. It’s been a formative journey. This year my mid-year resolution is to make more friends in journalism, writing and creative content making. To me, this is a major part of SoCal and the culture I love.

I might not go to Malibu often enough, not do as much as I’d like to help or improve my community, and be a bit too local these days. Yet this shift has kept me focused on Burbank. My town is a nice place with a lot of history. (I’m constantly learning about where Mickey Mouse went back in the day.) Restaurants, places, shops and parks keep me busy and I’ve restarted a fine gym membership at Blink. People often forget, Experiences such as a good Zoom or a local run in the park, are what make the day.

Recently I’ve gotten back into exercise patterns and buying local coffee. I feel much safer now but Covid is still very real and present. I hope we can all beat it together. And stand with local movements and groups. Some of us work in competitive industries like music, film and video game production, and we need solidarity. Unity may be the operant word these days.

Lastly, I’ve made friends through locals events, churches, and groups. I Value the community I have now. It’s important to reach out locally. Meetup.com is always a good way to meet people and get with local events and groups. Community is everything. If you don’t have a strong sense of community, I recommend seeking an online group or social event in the area, going and trying to meet people. A lot of us loners could use the company. Wear a mask, be safe, and when in the mountains 100 miles away from the urban sprawl, breath deep. Sometimes it’s good to escape.

There’s always time to find local inspiration, and perhaps be it.
Now, can someone tell me where I can find a new bike? I’m always looking for a good set of wheels. Well, that’s it. TAFN.

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