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I Already Love to Hate You, Los Angeles

The problem is: We all keep overcrowding these cities and ruining them.

Story by Thor Benson - thorbenson@gmail.com Photos by Luca Babini
Photo © Luca Babini

Photo © Luca Babini

I’ve been in Los Angeles fifty-something days so far. When I left Portland, they all exclaimed: “Who the fuck wants to move to Los Angeles!?” And I don’t have a solid answer for them. In a city that recycles the water it pisses in just to piss it out again, it can be difficult to find the silver lining. I can already say I love to hate this sinking city, but I also hate to love it.

Photo © Luca Babini

Photo © Luca Babini

Los Angeles is a city of almost four million people, half of which seem to be aspiring actors, filmmakers or make up artists, and they all work for Uber. Seriously, take an Uber in Los Angeles and ask them what they do. As someone who only moderately successfully gets by on my own artistic pursuits, it is difficult not to judge these people, but it is also extremely arrogant and short-sighted to do so. If all you have to do to get by as an artist is drive a car around a few days a week on your own schedule, then I can’t say you’re screwing it up too badly.

Photo © Luca Babini

Photo © Luca Babini

I could go on about the stereotypes of Los Angeles—the pretentious rich people, the hipsters, the surfers, the drug addicts—but I won’t. Yes, it’s true that some of these people eat so much kale that they’re probably bankrupting—actually, wait a minute. Did you know that there is a popular genus of kale called “Rape Kale”? They are not advertising this at the Los Angeles farmers market or the Whole Foods for some reason. Just Google “Rape Kale” and you can read articles like, “Kale & Rape”. Ridiculous.

Photo © Luca Babini

Photo © Luca Babini

Not that the Los Angeles farmers market is likely to exist much longer. That may be an exaggeration, but agriculture in the Southwest appears to be on a slow decline if we can’t get more water to survive on. Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, most of West Texas and many other places around here have a water problem. Trees are being ripped from their roots and replaced by cacti, ponds are drying up, fires are engulfing the hills and old men and women are fainting from heat stroke. There is a real possibility that the city of Los Angeles will not act upon the growing water crisis as quickly as it should, and it will have to make some major last minute decisions. It might get weird. I’ve talked to experts about this, and it’s unlikely anyone’s going to die or even be seriously hurt because of it, but it’s probably going to get weird for a minute. Why did I move here again?

Photo © Luca Babini

Photo © Luca Babini

Los Angeles does have something to offer… Obviously. There is a vibrant and eclectic music scene, every type of bar you can imagine, great comedy clubs, beaches, good weather (when it’s not over a hundred degrees) and it’s cheaper than New York. Yeah, I said it. You’re too damn expensive, New York. I refuse to live in New Jersey just to enjoy your succulent temptations. I happen to know a lot of New Yorkers are moving to Los Angeles because of how expensive that city is getting. I hope it doesn’t become a yuppie paradise there, because I’d really like to spend some time there down the line.

Photo © Luca Babini

Photo © Luca Babini

Why leave the warm, fuzzy borders of Portland, Oregon? Too many white people, too much rain, too many pretentious restaurants and too many people that look like me. I’m sick of looking like everyone else, so that’s why. Portland is a small city that’s turning into a decent-size city and isn’t quite sure what to do with itself. It will probably be a lot like Seattle in a few years; maybe a decade. Portland has many great things to offer, so does Los Angeles, and I’m sure I’ll find New York does when I finally spend more than a day or two there.

Photo © Luca Babini

Photo © Luca Babini

The problem is: We all keep overcrowding these cities and ruining them. I probably moved to Portland well after it peaked, and it’s still growing at an uncontrollable rate. Apartments that used to go for $700 or so now go for $1,000 or so. And that just happened in the three years I was there. We all have to stop copying each other and moving to the same city and ruining it. That being said, who wants to go to Detroit? I feel like Detroit has something going on. Am I ahead of the curve with this? No? Let’s all move to Detroit and ruin it… Again.

 

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