Dreaming of Los Angeles

It’s sad for me to say, but I have lived in New York my entire life. Was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Staten Island, and lived there until last summer, when I moved into Manhattan. Thirty-four years in the big apple. That’s a long time.

Some people can stay in one place their whole lives, and maybe I’m one of them. I don’t know if, at this rate, I’ll ever move out of New York entirely, but lately I’m thinking a lot about Los Angeles. Being in media and entertainment, I’ve traveled their intermittently over the years, and every time I go I think: wow, this is like heaven on earth.

I know that these are very generic thoughts, and that many folks vacillate between there and here; plus, any time you’re only in a specific place for a short period of time, it looks and feels amazing. It’s not really until you’re some place for an extended period that you know whether it’s right for you.

But over the past ten years, and most especially in the last five, I’ve seen friends old and new depart New York for Los Angeles. It doesn’t appear that any have had second thoughts. Many are seemingly thriving, continuing their careers in music and film — industries that exist in New York, but are far less robust than they once were.

To be sure, some friends have periodically moved elsewhere, cities like Atlanta, Austin and Miami, or abroad to London and Berlin. It’s like that sometimes, because cities have boom periods, where they attract folks for a while, then something happens — the rents go up, the work disappears — and everyone scrams.

New York these days kind of feels like that. Almost like there’s been a mass exodus of creative folks. Not that there aren’t any left, but it’s a certain type of person who has either hung around or landed here. Mostly, people who can afford it. Growing up in a blue collar household on the lower end of middle class, it’s culture shock for me. I feel like an alien most of the time.

I don’t know how different it might be on the west coast, as I’m sure Los Angeles has its own problems to deal with. But everyone I know seems to be really happy there. And when I’m there, even if it’s periodically, I’m really happy too. It’s kind of its own world, with its own temperament, a pace completely different from that of New York.

I guess I’m too late in admitting something a lot of my friends have already been very honest with themselves about — New York really is finished, and Los Angeles is where it’s at. I don’t know if I’ll pack my bags any time soon, but hey, at least for now I can dream about it.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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