Led Zeppelin’s classic song Stairway to Heaven touches on the subject of the west coast with the lyrics : “there’s a feeling I get when I look to the west”.This unrelenting yearning for the west has been popularized and glorified since the Zeppelin days of the 70′s. These infamous lyrics opens Brett Easton Ellis critically acclaimed novel “Less than Zero”. Yet the entirety of the novel encompasses the vices and downfall that the main protagonist and his friends undergo in the west coast of sunny LA . Which begs the question, is the west coast all that it seems to be? Or is it merely glorified for the sake of its sunny state and notorious for its apparent road to glory?
In a span of 4 years, I spent approximately 8 weeks in LA and from an outsider’s perspective I can say that there are pro’s and con’s to the west coast. Now, the whole LA ordeal of moving there to reach fame and fortune that’s another story on its own. That takes drive, talent and luck. I’m not going to delve into that subject matter just because it’s a redundant and personally annoying topic. What I will do is compile my personal list of the P’s and C’s of the sunny west coast.
1. It’s sunny , mountainous, and has all that pretty stuff– It goes without saying , that LA has hella nice weather, consistency at its finest, no bipolar montreal weather (only occasional minor earth quakes). You can plan your day accordingly and won’t be stuck within the confines of your home or cursing at mother nature for her mood swings. Secondly, the landscape is beautiful. Instead of seeing the redundant sight of gray buildings on the highway, you get to see mountains and palm tree’s instead . Thirdly, the air is dry and doesn’t have the sticky humid air that Montreal is renowned for having during mid july and august.
2. People are nicer. ( this probably has to do with the idyllic weather). When I first stayed in LA with my family I decided to peruse the area, get a feel of the overall surroundings. I primarily stayed in the suburban area but all I can say is that I felt like i was in an episode of the show Weeds. It had the whole shabang : Private residence, close knit neighbours who said hi to me while walking their dogs down the road (even though they had no idea who I was). Then you got the neighborhood kids offering me weed. Now these strangely kind gestures vary in location. Obviously if you’re living in Beverly Hills, you’ll get the snobby opulent people who dress in 5 inch heels to buy groceries. Despite this, I’ve never encountered friendly people similar to ones I’ve experienced in the suburban part of LA.
3. English.. everywhere! Despite how I’ve lived in Montreal all my life, I can’t speak Quebec french for the love of my life. I’m aware that this is a problem but I’ve definitely progressed in learning the language to my fullest extent. Point of the matter is , in LA there isn’t language wars going on, or politicians trying to impose their language by altering the name of universally recognized food dishes like “pasta”. Instead it’s a refreshing dose of english mixed in with a side dish of spanish. You don’t have to worry about not getting a job because your french isn’t perfect, but instead you can be assured your english is good enough to get you in!
Bonus Pros : Venice Beach and Laurel Canyon What do these 2 marvelous places have in common? You guessed it! (or not)… Jim Morrison. Venice Beach is known for its broad array of culture, music, art and strange looking hippy men that encompass the long boardwalk. It’s where artists of all facets enjoy their free time and seek creativity from. It’s also home to the infamous and beautiful murale of Jim Morrison. When I first came in contact with it, it radiated a sublime aura and left me incredibly mesmerized . On the other hand, Laurel Canyon is literally home to Jim Morrison. A dizzying and spiraling road brings you up to Morrison’s former home situated in a resorted mountainous area that’s away from the highlife of LA. Its tranquility and idyllic location is the perfect place to be to gain a surge of inspiration.
Jim Morrison’s former home in Laurel Canyon
Okay enough feelings of nostalgia and reminiscing for me , now I will list the Con’s of the west coast :
1. Has extremely expansive and vast land – If you don’t live within downtown LA or anywhere close to it, expect to travel at least 40 minutes to get anywhere. The highways (aka freeways) have 6 lanes instead of a measly 3. They even got a carpool lane for how much traffic there is. Be assured if you’re not loading up on the spf, you’ll get a farmer’s tan on half of your body that’s exposed to the sun from the amount of time spent waiting in traffic. Word of advice : elevate your mood by jammin’ to good beats in the car by plugging in your ipod or songza it up.
2. Its nightlife isn’t all that it’s hyped up to be. Montreal is amazing in terms of the nightlife. We got st lau, st denis, mount royal, crescent (kinda ew but still some worthy places to check out.. ahem Roxbury!) Whereas LA has sunset blvd, upscale places that you won’t have a chance in hell getting into and some scatty places in west hollywood that aren’t what they used to be . Take whiskey a go go for example, a nightclub/venue that once had the doors, led zeppelin, frank zappa, the who perform at. As a matter of fact, it popularized most of these bands. Fast forward to over thirty years later and it’s home to shitty metal bands performing on a Saturday night. Come on now what’s a girl got to do to enjoy her classic rock? Another fine example is the club “Rainbow”, that’s situated not to far from Whiskey. Upon first entering I saw plaques of famous musicians like Axl Rose, Ringo Starr and Alice Cooper with their autographs inscribed near their pictures. It was once frequented by all these musicians and was home to a heavy metal scene of the 80′s. Now, it’s home to bikers, washed out cougars with pample moussed hair who get crunk and reminiscee about their youthful days basking in the glory of their vices.
3. Their pizza.. SUCKS. There’s no other way of saying it, but having to be blunt. As a pizza enthusiast, I need my daily dose and let me tell you, LA is a serious letdown for finding greatness in pizza. My cousin and I had to look far and wide to find a decent pizza place. I’m talking driving to Hollywood to find a thin sliced delectable pizza that doesn’t have weird concoctions of pineapple and musty cheese on it. For shame, LA!
Bonus Cons – Unaffordable healthcare, no poutine, has smog, and a lot of forest fires
All in all, LA is an idyllic place, but awesome? Eh, it has its negative perks but if you can manage to see past them, it’s truly a great place to visit and (maybe) live in.