Insert Title of Song About Los Angeles Here

So evidently there's a downtown Los Angeles now. I know. Who know? I always thought the phrase "downtown Los Angeles" was an oxymoron.

But, no, there it is, with people and everything. It's where I work now, at least part time, until I run out of funds and need to beg for full time work. Three days a week (the next three, to be exact), I get in my Matrix and drive from West Hollywood to downtown L.A. I commute now, which is something I've never really done before. I mean, I've never worked from home, but in Los Angeles, driving local streets for ten minutes does not a commute make. There must be highways and gridlock for a commute to be real.

Discovering this new section of the city (I'm not joking, either -- I can count on one hand the number of times I'd been downtown before I started this job) has gotten me thinking about Los Angeles. I've lived here for just over 7 years now, which ranks it 11 years behind Kent, Ohio, for places I've lived in order of length. The previous high had been 5 years, held by Athens, Ohio, home of the fightin' Bobcats of Ohio University.

People always ask me if I like living in Los Angeles, and I do. I like being in a big city. I might be something of a misanthrope, but I like having the option of doing things. I like knowing that all of my favorite bands will play somewhere in this city at some point. I like knowing that even the most obscure indie movie will at some theater. And god knows I like the weather, because I absolutely abhor the cold. Sure, I'd like to see it rain more than once every three months, but I'll give that up to avoid three to five months of solid grey.

If I'm really honest, the biggest thing that Los Angeles has going for it is the fact that it's in California (which, granted, isn't what it used to be, but I'm sure it will get better once we legalize marijuana and let everyone have equal rights). Nicole and I got married up in the Bay area on perhaps the most perfect of days, with perfect weather. Back when we both had jobs, we'd take periodic trips to Palm Springs for a little R&R and it wouldn't even cut into our work weeks. We can actually drive to Las Vegas if want. Flying to Vegas or San Francisco requires more time waiting for the plane than it does sitting on the plane. I've been told there are even mountains around here some place.

Sure, the smog is disturbing, and I'd be lying if there weren't times, during fire season, that this city doesn't take on a post-apocalyptic glow, but I actually like that.

There are just as many reasons to hate this city. The commute I mentioned above wouldn't be quite so bad if the people in this city had any idea how to drive, and keep in mind that I lived in Atlanta for two years, so I know bad driving when I see it. There's a deep sense of entitlement that runs through many sections of this city, just as there's a deep anti-establishment feeling that, upon scrutiny, is entirely for show. I would say that's one of the number one complaints about this city, the fact that it's so shallow, and there's no denying that things like art, intellect, talent, etc. -- it all becomes a product here. That might not be so different than anywhere else in our country, but it seems to be spotlighted more here, probably because we broadcast everything. We did give the world such luminaries as Paris Hilton, Ryan Seacrest, and E! Entertainment television. TMZ does stand for Thirty Mile Zone, after all, and where do you think that thirty mile zone is, Cleveland?

But those are the people and things that get all the headlines. It's not a reflection of the city, or at least shouldn't be. When I first moved here, I lived in Little Armenia, just up from Koreatown, just down from Thai Town. We currently live around the corner from an area I once heard called the "Borscht Belt," from an old Jewish man who seemed to know what he was talking about. And what is there to say about West Hollywood? Most of the businesses around here decorate in rainbow colors.

There are worse places to hang your hat.

If there are two problems, two REAL problems with the City of Angels, they are these:

1) It's too expensive and chaotic to raise a family here, unless you absolutely have to. Being a newlywed, this is the kind of thing I think about a lot. Nicole and I both know we're going to have to move outside the city when we start a family, not just because L.A. Unified schools get less and less money every year, but because we simply could never afford a place big enough to house ourselves, our stuff, our cats, and kids. We're kind of on a three year plan in that regard.

2) I'm on the other side of the country. I might have spent 7 years in Los Angeles, but the 26 that preceded those were all spent on East Coast time. Nicole and I got married out here because she has a big family and I don't have a whole lot of family or friends. But 99% of them lives on the other side of the mighty Mississippi, and that can make things hard from time to time. I miss a lot of things -- I miss a lot of people -- because I'm so far away. And while I'm generally a stubbornly independent person (see: misanthrope above), there are times I wish I could see certain people. I find that this will probably be a stronger feeling as I get older and once Nicole and I have kids. But, hey, on the flip side, I'm just as far away from Hawaii.

I've noticed, recently, that people online are beginning to copycat a true original: the "Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video." So far I've seen them for Detroit and Oakland. Neither of them are as funny as the Cleveland one (or its sequel, which actually might be better). Adult Swim went a step further and, inspired by the flags that individual sections of Tokyo have, created "New U.S. City Flags." There's one for Cleveland, Los Angeles, AND Atlanta, the three cities nearest and dearest to my heart. You can check them out here.

The Cleveland flag reads "At least it's not Baltimore." The "Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video : 2nd Attempt" features the catch phrase "We're Not Detroit."

In that spirit, I would suggest the following for my second hometown: "Los Angeles: Not As Bad As You Think."

I will now go and sit by the pool.

(That's a lie, actually, as a) it's 11:13 at night and b) the pool on the roof of my apartment building is being resealed. But, you know, I have a pool on the roof of my apartment building, so I don't think I can really complain.)