It wasn’t until my second day in LA that I realized how significant the city was for me. I’ve seen countless movies that were either shot or set there. Songs about the city are ingrained in my adolescent memories, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to 2Pac. More recently I’ve read academic critiques of the city and its various issues. I haven’t gone into a city with so much prior knowledge since I first visited London. It’s a strange sensation to be in a place that holds so much pop cultural significance, to finally place Santa Monica Boulevard (stuck in my head all weekend!) and put the dreary landscape of Pulp Fiction into context.
The Verdict: Do I love LA? No. Am I coming back anytime soon? Probably not. Did I have a blast hanging out with my buddy Franklin? Absolutely, and I’ve got the tattoo to prove it.
Franklin (F) and I met over 7 years ago when we were both studying abroad. We instantly clicked and have kept in touch since. If he didn’t live in LA I might have skipped it entirely, and that would have been a damned shame.
F picked me up from the train station and dropped me off in Bev Hills while he was busy working. Beverly Hills is whacked out. I took the opportunity to call my Grandmother and inform her of my location as I am often required to do. “Hi Grandma, I’m in Berlin,” “Hi Grandma, I’m in Paris,” “Hi Grandma, I’m standing in the threshold of the very house where SHAKESPEARE WAS BORN.” These claims get reactions like, “Oh, that’s nice. Are you eating well?”
“Hi Grandma, I’m in Beverly Hills.”
“Beverly Hills!? Wowwwwww”
“Yeah uh it’s kinda lame.”
The woman was speechless. Then she told me to be careful 6 or 7 more times than she usually does, which is already about 4. Careful of what? Maxing out my credit card? Did she think Prada bags were going to start hurling themselves off shelves at me?
About the only thing useful in that neck of the woods was the Original Farmer’s Market, where I ate an amazing taco. Apparently I needed to come to LA to understand what West Coast Mexican food was all about. That’s five Mexican meals in a row if you’re counting.
After my taco from heaven I met back up with Franklin, but before we got down to the hardcore partying (and that sounds like I’m joking but give it a minute…) F had to work some more and I had to wait in his apartment for AT&T to show up and install his internet.
As a New Yorker I’m kind of obligated to have the opinion that LA is a raging shit hole. It isn’t. AT&T is though. Apparently you need to flag down AT&T trucks in LA. You don’t just sit around at home and wait like you do in NY. Oh no. LA Internet men need to be seduced. Opening your front door isn’t enough, you need to go out on the porch and serenade them or at least quote some Dickinson to lure them into your home. It really makes you wonder what they’re trying to compensate for.
I wasn’t familiar with the mating rituals of the LA Internet man so I failed at getting Internet for Franklin. No worries, it was time to explore LA. We started the night off with famous LA burgers. It’s a really good thing we consumed approximately 4000 calories for dinner, because otherwise the three bottles of Prosecco wouldn’t have had anything to sit on.
Now, Franklin is a Southern gentleman and you all know that I am a mild-mannered Yankee lady; the only thing that can explain the following account is the fact that his coworkers are absolute freaks:
I don’t know if clubbing in LA was ever on my bucket list, but it happened. It wasn’t part of our initial plan for the evening, so I showed up totally unprepared in a dress I had bought because it’s great for hiking and sandals that I bought because they’re great for hiking. F’s friends had gotten there before us, so we downed shots of whiskey and then got in line for the oh-so-exclusive dancey STD loft club thing. Everyone else on line was a dude so the bouncer came up to F and I and said we could skip to the front. “See that?” I (Jack Daniels) yelled at the line of men, “See that? I’ve got a VAGINA so I get to go first. Nice right? Gender equality people… right here.” Not surprisingly, that wasn’t my only feminist rant of the night.
Up in the ‘loft’ there was bumpin’ and grindin’ and all sorts of things you’d imagine in an LA club. First I dared Franklin to dance with me. Then I dared him to dance with a stripper pole. He did both, graciously. As the night wore on there were broken glasses of champagne and long lines for the bathroom. By the end of the evening I was yelling at and trying to physically restrain a man who was much bigger than myself because he had just tried to break into an occupied ladies bathroom stall and barked at me that Black women respect him. In my ranting I may have told him that that wasn’t a very sociological thing to say. I was probably yelling something about intersectionality when the security guards came over and broke up the free seminar I was offering. Rogue sociologist THAT, Sudhir Venkatesh.
The club closed and F and I stumbled around town looking for food. There was none. We woke up 6 hours later in his car, fairly well rested and ready to go round two with LA.
The rest of my time in the city was relatively low key, which is a good thing because otherwise I’d be dead by now. Franklin chauffeured me around to all the sights- the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Park, Venice Beach, the Valet Parking Lot at Ihop.
We chased down fusion taco trucks and visited the contemporary art museum. We cooked dinner together and traded anecdotes, and we definitely saw Bruce Willis at Trader Joe’s. But the most thrilling sight by a long shot was Abbot Kinney Boulevard (Deener 2007, represent); the ethnographic site of one of my favorite urban sociologists! Whatever. Don’t judge me. I’m a cool person, I went clubbing in LA.