Please note: this is by no means a comprehensive compendium of what LA is actually like as a whole. I spent most of my time in Hollywood and Burbank and only 5 days at that.
Normal, Just Big
Growing up in the Midwest, you get this iconic, fabled view of what Los Angeles and Hollywood actually are from movies and teevee and popular songs. Which proved surprising when everything was so normal. Sunset. La Brea. Santa Monica. Busy, stacked with restaurants, stores, bars, but pretty normal ones. We didn't walk into any place I didn't feel comfortable
Again, from news and television, I guess I expected a much larger Hispanic population, but in Hollywood - while that existed - there was also a noticeable Asian and Armenian population. Even a "Little Ethiopia." And it all makes for a fantastic selection of little restaurants and a very diverse culture.
As far as the idea of "pretty people everywhere," you can knock that to the curb. The population appears to have a much larger percentage of fit people, but if you match the overweight with the unhealthily gaunt, I think the averages weigh out.
Terrifying. I spent some time driving in Boston, some time driving in Dublin (Ireland), and this beats all. The traffic here can be best described as erratic and random with punctuations of straight up danger. Constant lane-changing almost into your car, motorcycles swerving between larger vehicles. Basically, if you're not "on" you're going to get into an accident.
Much love to my brother Adam for taking the helm for my entire visit.
A great co-worker of Adam pulled us some Leno tickets. After going to Guest Relations, were were pooled with some 20 other people and we walked through the back lots to Studio 11 where we turned the corner and ...hundreds of people were waiting 2 and 3 deep on the right and left. And we walked past them all. It was exciting and elating and I had the biggest grin on my face.
We entered the studio audience ahead of everyone and it appeared we were getting sweet front row seats in fixed-seat house (yeah!), then a coordinator pointed to us and said "you two, come with me." He ushered us out on the floor house left and pulled tape off a couple seats to plant us in row 2. On the floor. Of Leno. Waaahaa!?
My brother in blue, me: to his left
It aired Friday, May 7th, and you can still see it on NBC.com as well as Adam's other screenshots on Facebook here.
Don Cheadle, Erin Andrews guests, George Takei showed up to say "panties," amongst other words, and Landon Pigg & Lucy Schwartz performed. All-round, a great show.
On Sunday, we headed over to Hollywood's Happy Ending bar on Sunset (an excellent sports bar in its own right) for some Cavs :( and grub. Amazing food, great staff, great clientele.
As a matter of fact, Neal McDonough stopped in to root for the Celtics against the Cavs.
You may know him from Desperate Housewives or Minority Report. I loved him in SyFy's "Tin Man" and he was also in an old episode of Quantum Leap, Angels in the Outfield, and Band of Brothers.
But he was just another guy in a bar watching the game. And that was cool.
Business Expansion Potential
I don't want to generalize or pine romantic about Los Angeles, but as a web developer, the problems I've seen there for production companies and restaurants are pretty much the same as here:
- Sites built entirely in Flash; this is still not a viable option, especially if you expect someone to pick it up with a smartphone.
- Remnants of a site built several years ago that has used duct tape to keep it up with minor updates.
- A website composed by a cousin who had this class this one time and looks like 1995 (read: cheesy animated gifs)
Yes, these sites exist, even in LA. Which is sad and disappointing, but a fantastic opportunity, especially for the markup potential in what the market will actually support.
I'd like to thank my parents. Really. My dad was a local celebrity on Cleveland television and my father always said: "I'm just a regular guy; I'm just on TV." And that helped ground us growing up and I don't think any one of us four kids ever got big-headed or name-dropped for any reason. It was just Dad. And seeing celebrities in Los Angeles it's the same thing: they're normal people, just with a job on TV or in movies.
I can't wait to go back. As I said before, it's not demonstrative, but you can see what I did while I was there through Foursquare and check out my pictures on my Facebook profile.
I leave you with The Decemberists. Yes, Los Angeles, I'm yours.