In a piece for the travel section of the Telegraph, actor Hugh Laurie goes against the grain of anti-LA sentiment among his fellow Brits. Or what he sees as the grain, anyway. "Los Angeles, and especially the abbreviated LA, has become a byword for the shallow, the ephemeral, the vain – and it is the duty of any right-thinking Englishman, properly cask-aged in rainwater, body dysmorphia and sarcasm, to scorn it....Well, I warn you now, I’m heading in the other direction. I’m sticking up for the beautiful city of Los Angeles. That’s right. Beautiful."
"You will hate Los Angeles." That’s what English people said to me when they heard I was heading west, to the land of low-fat milk and sugar-free honey. You’ll hate it, and be back in a week. Some of them, I suspect, were showing off their worldliness. They’d been to Los Angeles many times, seen through its glitter, tired of its ways. Others inflected their prediction with a sort of menacing imperative. You will hate Los Angeles, if you know what’s good for you.
You can see examples of this same imperative all over the British press. Leaf through a colour supplement on any given Sunday, and I guarantee you will find an interview with a young popsy, promoting her latest film, under the headline: "She’s the toast of Hollywood, but she prefers Hackney!"
I love this about Los Angeles. I love the hippyness – better still, the collision between hip and yup – all set against the noirish, Philip Marlowe memories of my moviegoing youth. (Even now, I challenge you to drive west on Sunset Boulevard, peer in through those mysterious shaded driveways, dripping with jasmine and bougainvillea, and tell me that Norma Desmond doesn’t – couldn’t – live there.)
Besides its well-exploited movie heritage, the city has plenty of conventional attractions too: museums, galleries, a 100-mile beach, a 100-mile motorcycle ride, coyotes, deer, skunks, possums, rattlesnakes, gangs – blessings almost without number.
Photo: The Telegraph