Observing Los Angeles

LA as a see or be seen kind of place

In which group would she put Ciclavia? LA Observed file photo.

Interesting blog post by law professor and city of Los Angeles ethics commissioner Jessica Levinson on an aspect of the public culture in LA. It's in the Huffington Post, and posits that In Los Angeles "there are essentially two reasons to do anything. The first is to accomplish something. The second is to be seen accomplishing something." The latter reason helps explain why people, for instance, hike in Runyon Canyon instead of in less-crowded or more accessible canyons. Or why they go to restaurants or stores favored by celebrities and paparazzi. Excerpt:

First, do you need a new pair of jeans? If you do, then a trip to a Banana Republic or the Gap at your local shopping [sic] might do the trick. Or do you instead need to be seen buying a new pair of jeans? Then Kitson on Robertson Blvd, a paparazzi-lined street is on the agenda. Sure, you can buy a pair of jeans at Kitson, but really, half the fun is determining how many people you know, how many people know you, and how many times you might make it into the tabloids.

Now onto our second example, feel like a salad for lunch? If you do, then depending on where you are you may head to one of the adorable cafes on Beverly Blvd or Third Street. If you want to be seen eating a salad, you could simply walk down the street from Kitson and hit up the Ivy on Robertson or you could go to Wolfgang Puck's famed restaurant Spago in Beverly Hills. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that Spago falls into a rare cross-over category, because while it is no doubt a place to see and be seen, it is also a restaurant for a terrific salad). The Ivy provides everything you might expect; passable, overpriced faire within spitting distance of the paparazzi. You might want to head to the chiropractor or masseuse after such a meal, because you'll no doubt be craning to see who you're seated next to.

And finally, do you feel like a hike? If you do, then you might try the Santa Monica Mountains, a few canyons in Malibu, or a mountain in Culver City. Or do you feel like being seen hiking? Then you're heading to Runyon Canyon....

Runyon anywhere else in the world would be a short but steep mountain path leading to a lovely overlook. Runyon in Los Angeles is more aptly called Run-way. More than a path to walk, it is a runway on which to stretch, strut and finally reach a photo shoot ready crest. The path is spotted with sculpted bodies. Instead of purses, watches or other accessories these fit models carry well-groomed, sometimes well-dressed, pooches....As another friend remarked, Runyon truly is the Ivy of hikes.

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