Catherine Elsworth, the Daily Telegraph's woman in L.A., has relocated to New York for a few weeks in part to "remind myself what proper city living is all about." She blogs on her U.K. site about some of the differences she observes between her Silver Lake base here, her former home in London and her temporary digs.
Both New York and London are cultural hubs brimming with creativity and multifarious experience, oversubscribed and overpriced with signature skylines and majestic landmarks. Both have proper public transport, cold weather and permanent branches of the exclusive members club Soho House....
Los Angeles and New York are much more distant relatives. So much so I always found it puzzling when people declared themselves truly bicoastal, unable to choose just one, with an apartment in both cities and a life split between the two.
Manhattan is compact, a pedestrian’s paradise. Los Angeles is a sea of never-ending development and a hundred different cities, most accessible only by car. Parts of downtown LA yet to receive the developer’s makeover - the fashion district or Broadway – may feel like a movie set built to resemble 1940s New York.
But many of the wealthier enclaves, with their ostentatious mansions, desert vegetation and infinity pools, couldn’t be further from NY’s urban grey. Then there are artsy beach communities of Santa Monica and Venice where the beautiful disco dance on roller-skates or haul themselves into the surf. You don’t see much of that on Park Avenue.
LA is mainly low-rise. The car is king. You don’t think twice before driving 20 miles for dinner and people’s homes are, compared to Manhattan, vast.
In LA, you can climb a vertiginous canyon trail amid lizards and cicadas and feel miles from the city, only to turn a corner and spy shimmering sprawl stretching to the horizon. It can take an hour to travel five miles. There are so many car crashes LA has its own accident lexicon such as ‘the sig alert’: “any unplanned event that causes the closing of one lane of traffic for 30 minutes or more”.
But you can also feel a bit removed from other people...
While Elsworth is busy "catching the bicoastal bug," another U.K. journo assigned to Los Angeles is still trying to break into Hollywood as an actor. David Willis, as LA Observed readers know, is taking six months off from duties at the BBC to pursue his dream. In his latest story about it, Willis kisses a "California blonde with big eyes and a sweet nature" in acting workshop. He's doing stand-up tonight at the Comedy Store.