Except for the people. Yes, it hurts in the stomach to accept it, but it's true. After living in L.A. for 6 years, working with great people, going to fancy and not so fancy events in venice, santa monica, malibu, culver city, west l.a., west hollywood, beverly hills, hollywood, los feliz, silverlake, westwood, mid wilshire, la brea, the valley, Marina del rey, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa, Redondo and Torrance, just to mention a few, surprisingly, not a lot happened.
Don't get me wrong, I met great people at those events, visited great venues and a lot did happen, but now it seems like it took too long. After 5 weeks in NY I thought, why did it need to take that long over there when things seem to be happening here so fast?
Although I started this post by saying that it is the people what makes the difference, It is not the people but the way the city is design where I find answers. We are all human beings, with flaws, passions, dreams, ambitions, fears and insecurities; mostly sociable, open, sane, and in one way or another interesting. And no matter where you go, there is always an idiot, an asshole and a superficial bitch.
That being said, I doubt I became cooler and more relaxed when I went from Bogota to Los Angeles (I did became a little more superficial and also became an actor - but I won't blame the city for it), and I doubt I just became more intellectual and sophisticated for moving from Los Angeles to New York. But for someone like me, who is interested in people, psychology, communicating, storytelling, brainstorming, conversation and idea sharing (among another 50 things), there was not a whole lot I could share with the guy on the radio or the other 3 empty seats of my empty car. I tried the bus and things did become a little more interesting, but for the most part those taking public transportation have little to say for several and different mental condition reasons and others just because they are the only two white people with sunglasses an a camera riding the bus assume they shouldn't talk, so nobody really talks. Nor to mentions that over 15 miles in public transportation in L.A. will take an hour ride or more. Social life becomes a crusade.
Let's go back to New York. Before I moved to New York, I decided to go for three days, and then another three after a few weeks, to get a feel for the city, move around, try to find a job of course, and simply see what my intuition would suggest, go or not go.
From the first weekend, I still have two fantastic new contacts (I would call them friends already, but to be fair, lets give that some time) one of them, a musician with whom this very week I will meet to discuss a new documentary project in the city (professional opportunities), and It only took me to be sitting at a small bar in Williamsburg. From the second weekend, the potential of getting laid without even having decided weather or not to move to the city (social interaction and dating - that saved me considering eharmony services for at least a few months and things are only moving forward). Not bad. And that one took two questions at a metro station on 46th street, "Is this the right direction to go to JFK?" and "Can I get your email maybe? I'm thinking about moving to NY and know nobody". (Go try that in L.A. today and let me know how it goes - (she has to be beautiful and buy you drinks on the first night out)).
In contrast, during my first two weekends in L.A. I couldn't do shit without a car. My first date - a friends' roommate, otherwise it would have never happened so soon, lived in Huntington Beach (only an hour and a half from where I was). Fuck that.
Then I got a car, the next two weekends, I got a car ticket for speeding, one red light (the first time I got a picture of me by mail), and and car accident in the 101. Fine, call me an idiot, bad luck, crazy driver or whatever, still, do we need cities like this? Do we need to be exposed to such a stupid way of wasting our precious time, and money?
Now, of course, if you live in the west village in manhattan, and work in Long island (which is very common) that is an hour and a half each way right there, or something like that. But I think reading a book is better than audio books, talking to someone better than giving a creepy look to the woman driving by and our focus capabilities better without being in front of the wheel. People watching better than license plates watching. Walking to the station healthier than waking to your garage.
New York is awesome because it allows people (forces them) to interact in a much more dynamic way. This makes them (forces them) to be more open to social interaction and less self centered, and from that interaction idea sharing allowed to (forced to) happen faster, so ideas become better, and people get more done, better and faster. All the sudden, angelenos are seen as shallow, self centered, superficial, apathetic, lazy, not interesting, unengaged, arrogant...
I think it is not them, it is not us - and it's not me, and I haven't changed - but the city, the environment, the car nonsense, the ridiculous commute in front of the wheel, that might be it. Again, there is always an idiot, an asshole and a superficial bitch, but architects can not fix that.
If it wasn't for the fantastic weather and the beach (and we will see for how many more years that will be the excuse) there are not a lot of good reasons to live in L.A. (at least when you are young and single). New York proves that we are naturally social animals, and being social makes us put up with overpriced everything, dirty streets, the cold, little sunlight and rats. New York is like L.A., except for the people, but the people are pretty much the same, except for the city they decided to live in. We need to reinvent the cities, and find ways to fix them all, because with the right cities there will be no city like the one you decide to live in, where your family and friends live but also where you are exposed to great stories, opportunities and adventures. Until that happens, it will be new york is this, l.a. is that. New York is like L.A. the exact same thing, except for the city, and both are cities you have to go to and suffer.