LA sucks, until it blows open your soul

 Random essay plus old tips from a friend

Growing up a tomboy, I learned to mock an air-headed valley girl accent before I even knew where said valley was. Embarrassingly, the reputation of cali's fatuity never quite left me. In fact, it got worse before it got better.

My first visit there was en route for Coachella last year. That sucked. The people I met at parties or while networking seemed not only vain, but horribly desperate to appear important with thin smiles, incessant name dropping and self-laudatory monologues. A different brand of desperation was mirrored in the street, with drug addicted homeless people camping out downtown and around Venice. The tent laws on public space and agreeable climate make Los Angeles a destination for folks who don't have a roof over their heads. I felt I was seeing LA in a funhouse mirror, with the top and bottom horribly skewed but tied by one obscured commonality.

My thoughts summed up

But it got better. I had multiple opportunities to go back to Los Angeles and dig beneath the surface. What I found was emotionally complex and compelling. It draws some of the most talented creatives in arts and writing. There are edgy concerts, incredible street art and graffiti artists, and cafes and restos are fresh- daring to be bold.

On desperation: Being the best only risks stinking when it's in process and/or when it fails, but when it succeeds you have so much to be thankful for in this nuanced city.  Each neighbourhood has its own micro-universe too. It does suck because it can be easy to feel isolated when you don't believe in cars, but living locally takes on a new meaning and can be key to happiness there I think. Like finding your local haunts and living near your friends. I personally stayed in echo park, silverlake, venice beach and DTLA, listed in order of preference.

I also posit that it's not a place to simply travel for tourism or work. I gather LA, like Paris or Singapore, requires you to stop moving and trying and just live it. Admittedly, I feel an aversion to the city I visit quarterly for business. I actually feel afraid and I wonder if it's fear of the isolation. Or perhaps the fear of being a nobody is a disease that runs rampant in LA. What really changed my mind though was the beautiful and genuine people I've had the chance to work with, and friends from a past life.

Indie Guide to Los Angeles

Here is a list succinctly put together on mobile by an old school mate in Paris who spent the last 10 years in Los Angeles, Emilien. He has a book where he decries exactly the above misconceptions of this city, arguing that unlike urban centers where everything is easy, LA requires energy to find the gems. I am currently making my way through this list, albeit slowly with work visits slowing me down. I encourage folks to check him out for a deeper LA view.

Best Museums in LA

Getty Center (Brentwood)
"The Museum that will blow your mind and still blows mine, especially on saturday evening to see the sunset from above the city."

Weisman foundation (Beverly Hills)
The secret crazy museum in a Beverly Hills mansion that features every major artist from 1950 to 1990. Go on website to both ok ahead. Free visit on invitation only during the week.

The Broad (Downtown)
Saw one of the most beautiful musical art installations there.

Largest art museum on the west coast. Contemporary

The totally underestimated museums in Pasadena and absolutely world-class. Spend the day at Garden and then do Norton
Huntington Garden & Norton Simon (Pasadena)

The best LA galleries

Gagosian (Beverly Hills) Regen Projects & Matthew Marks (Hollywood) Blum & Poe (Culver City) Hauser & Wirth, Francois Ghebaly & Night Gallery (Downtown) David Kordansky & Kayne Griffin Corcoran (Miracle Mile)


The fashion / contemporary art shop only in LA
Just One Eye (Hollywood)

The hip stores
Opening Ceremony (Hollywood)
Mohawk (Silver Lake)
Clare Vivier (Silver Lake)
Maxfield (Malibu, Hollywood)
Alchemy Works and Poketo (Arts District Downtown)

The cool gift to bring back
Heath Ceramics (Hollywood) Tortoise (Venice)

Things to Do in LA

The Hip Hotel
Ace Hotel (Downtown) with Acne, APC, Aesop nearby a Banksy wall painting

The cute secret gem to walk around
Venice Canals (Venice)

The up-and-coming area
Arts District Downtown around Hauser and Wirth (Downtown)

The secret amazing building you’ve seen in so many movies
Bradbury Building (Downtown)

The paradise beach
Paradise cove (Malibu) the atrociously expensive parking is reimbursed if you get drinks or lunch

The great hike
Temescal Canyon (Pacific Palisades)

The movie theater where the movie industry goes
Arclight Hollywood (Hollywood)

The hollywood actress fitness obsession
Soulcycle (Brentwood, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills)

Food & Drinks in LA

Start with this November 2016 article:

My absolute favorite. Modern and amazing. The Chef is a friend.
Trois Mec (Hollywood)

The restaurant to make your friend from NY move to LA
Gjelina (Venice)

The great middle eastern food
Kismet (Echo Park) Bavel (Downtown)

The hidden gem that is offering fermented Korean food, mostly vegan, so so amazing and creative. Maybe the lab of the future in an ugly strip mall
Baroo (East Hollywood)

The post-modern breakfast and lunch delicate and delicious
Destroyer (Culver city)

The Burger. End of discussion.
In-N-Out (LAX, Venice, Westwood, Hollywood)

The cheapest ticket to France, the brasserie that cooks like my grandmother would
Petit Trois (Hollywood)

The amazingly delicious Food Truck that started the Food Truck revolution
Kogi BBQ (Venice every saturday at noon)

The other fantastic food trucks
Guerilla Taco (fancy tacos) Â Mariscos Jalisco (seafood tacos) Cousins maine lobster (lobster roll) Jogasaki (sushi burrito) Coolhaus (ice-cream sandwich)

The market that's being turned around and is now a foodie heaven
Grand Central Market (Downtown) in front of bradbury building

The hip pizza/pasta
Jon & Vinny's (Fairfax)

The gastronomic restaurant in LA, specialized in seafood, of course
Providence (Hollywood)

The Steak to eat in a Richard Meier room with Baldessari paintings around you
CUT (Beverly hills)

The organic local fresh lunch/brunch on The water
Malibu Farm Cafe on Malibu Pier (malibu)

Barrel and Ashes (Studio City) or Bludso's (Compton, Hollywood)

The Hipster Brunch
Sqirl (Silver Lake)

The Modern Bakery and Coffee for breakfast
Gjusta (Venice)

The Hipster Thai
Night + Market Song (Silver Lake, West Hollywood, Venice)

The sexy downtown italian restaurant that you have to book ahead weeks in advance
Bestia (Downtown)

The Old School Hollywood
Musso & Frank (Hollywood)

The fantastic sushi in the weirdest place
Shunji (Santa Monica)

The vegan restaurant to feel some hippie-new age vibe
Cafe Gratitude (Venice & Hollywood)

Rihanna and Gwyneth's favorite old school italian
Giorgio Baldi (Pacific Palisades)

The jetset japanese restaurant to eat over the water
Nobu Malibu (Malibu)

The bar for the perfect rooftop sunset
Rooftop bar at Hotel Erwin (Venice) book ahead a table

The incredible Sichuan restaurant spicy and delicious in San Gabriel Valley - go there late during the week late - 2 hours wait during the weekend
Chengdu taste (San Gabriel Valley)

The modern french-asian restaurant
Cassia (Santa Monica)

The tasty and crazy popular korean barbecue
Kang Ho Dong Baek Jeong (Korea Town)

The hollywood hangout
Chateau Marmont (Hollywood) book a table ahead outside