I think the point Superfly was trying to make is that, except for the political boundaries, there is very little (if any) separating the two areas; it is one continuous 'suburb' (if you will) the entire way along the 405, 5, 605, and 57 corridors with absolutely no break in it whatsoever. The same can be said going east/west between LA
/OC and San Bernardino/Riverside. It's just literally one strip mall, industrial park, and subdivision one after another and another. Unless you are either on the beach or on top of a hill or mountian, you cannot see the horizon ANYWHERE. Period. The only thing holding back growth to the north is the San Gabriel montains. To the west, the Pacific Ocean. To the South, Camp Pendleton (the only line of demarcation between LA/OC and San Diego. And finally, to the east, unless current trends stop, I still believe that San Bernardino/Palm Springs and the Phoenix area will meet up within 20 years-making it possible to drive the entire way and never leave civilization. But as it is, the Inland Empire region of SoCal extends all the way to Indio-which is what? 80 miles from the Arizona Border?
Having lived in SoCal for pretty much all of my 34 years on this world, I do have to echo many of the negative sentiments posted above. The problem is that none of that takes into account different tastes; what's heaven to you is anathema to someone else. And yes, despite all of the negatives, LA
does have a few bright spots away from the traditional 'mold'. For instance: Claremont comes to mind. That is a town that could've been carved up from just about anywhere in the Northeast and dropped in: Several colleges, narrow quiet streets lined on both sides with huge, overhanging oak trees and lots of charming 19th/early 20th century houses. And did I mention downtown Claremont? Just east of Bonita/Indian Hill, one of the nicest "Main-Street USA" type areas I've seen.
Same thing with the Circle At Orange-where Chapman and Glassell meet via a roundabout. Despite being in the heart of Orange County, that tiny half or so square mile, you will not find a single Starbucks, McDonalds, or Wal-Mart. Everything is 'local' only: lots of specialty shops and restaurants (you MUST try the Citrus City Grille). When I first took my (very conservative) father down there, he interpreted it as a very 'snooty college' area. To which I replied, "no...it's not snooty. The lack of corporate chains here mean that the independant mom-and-pop shops still stand for something.
But I digress, taking into account the fact that everyone has their personal tastes, let me just try and spell them out about LA
. You are welcome to agree or disagree, but this is how I see it:
Yes, we do have nice weather. If you are a 12 month outdoorsdy type and like the idea of being able to wear tank tops and sandals year round, yeah, you will definitely like it here. We do get the June gloom during the summer months, but it almost always burns off by lunchtime. On the other hand if you are like me and actually enjoy the 4 seasons, you will be disappointed. There isn't but maybe 20 degrees difference between January and July. LA
doesn't have much in the way of greenery (besides the artificial parks). So forget about seeing 'fall colors' foliage and bare trees in fall and winter. Likewise, this is no place to enjoy a cozy evening by the fire while it snows outside. Most of the rest of the country has a 'white' Christmas. Here, you can cruise the freeways with the top down.
I think our beaches are highly overrated. Maybe that's just because I was spoiled by the white sands of Montego Bay, Jamaica, but go to any of our 'famous' beaches such as Newport and Huntington and all I see are crowds, drunk and rowdy college kids, women containing more plastic than a Honda Civic, and lots of used syringes and baby diapers. But again, maybe some of you enjoy that setting. If so, then yes, you will like the beaches. OTOH, if you want a place to relax and take in a nice sunset and listen to the enchantment of the surf, forget it. You are in the wrong place.
if you are a sucker for Mexican food, you will love it. With that comes a lot of Mexican population. That means doing something absurdly simple-such as ordering a Jumbo Jack from Jack-In-The-Box will almost always mean you have to almost spell out your order, letter by letter. Or else give it in Spanish. Ditto for pretty much any other culture: you want Chinese? Take a drive down Colima Road in Rowland Heights or along New Ave in Alhambra. Like Armenian? Brand Blvd in Glendale will be the ticket. Like Indian? Look no further than Pioneer Blvd in Cerritos.
If "safe" and "familiar" branding and surrounding -such as TGIFridays, Applebees, and Red Lobster are your thing, as well as row upon row of tightly spaced houses that all look essentially alike,then yes. Pretty much anywhere in Orange County-especially South County, or the Santa Clarita Valley (Newhall, Saugus, Castaic, etc.) will definitely be to your liking.
As for shopping? That's kind of hard to quantify. What are you looking for? Is it something that can't be found online or at any local merchant? Or is just the location itself part of the experience (for instance, buying a whiskey flask from a kiosk for $20...cash...no receipt... from a Middle Easterner who barely speaks English what you are looking for)?
SoCal is crowded. Very crowded. Freeway traffic jams-even without an accident-are pretty much the norm literally around the clock (yes, the 10 can be and often is bumper to bumper at 2AM). Ditto for pretty much any of the major 'side' streets. If you love being in the thick of people, SoCal will be heaven to you. If you want elbow room, forget it. Only place you gonna get that is at home or in your hotel room. Really. EVERYTHING is a wait. Even the bathrooms at Burger King.
SoCal women: Someone above said that unless you are a movie director, have a "pimped out" ride, or are worth at least 7 figures, they won't even talk to you. For the most part, that's 100% true. I'm just an Average Joe here. Getting women to even give you a phone number or show up on time was quite a challenge. Yet many times, just 250 miles to the north in Fresno, my biggest problem with the (for most part equally attractive) women was choosing the one I was going to 'take' for the night. This 100% totally and unambiguously validated the shallowness of our SoCal culture. It was DEFINITELY not me.
Hollywood and vicinity: Never took someone there and they didn't say "that's IT
Yup. Sunset Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, and even Melrose. Except for a handful of blocks here and there, were and are dirty, narrow, hopelessly gridlocked, and definitely looked like they came straight out of Brooklyn: Lots of graffitti, homeless, and every one of the shops had roll-up steel doors. Sure there are some points of genuine interest-such as the House of Blues or Amoeba records. But a good night club and retail establishment does not a city make. Again, depending on the sort of nightlife you are interested, SoCal has it all....from the glam of $50 cover charges and $10 X 2 drink minimums where a suit is required...all the way down to more 'homely' sawdust bars that have two tables, a dozen stools, a dartboard, and a jukebox......where sandals are acceptable attire, we have it all. You just have to know where to find it. SoCal's sheer size and layout can make that a challenge.
Again, let me reiterate, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you LIKE that sort of world, then yes. It will be your thing. I LIKED visiting New York City all of the times I have over the years. Chinatown and Greenwhich Village are great for an afternoon/evening of walking and browsing all the shops and sampling some of the local cuisine (which in LA
as in NYC, is very hit-or-miss on quality). But I sure as hell wouldn't want to live there. I guess part of my enjoyment was knowing that an 'escape' was available.
Simply out of touch with reality. But that's a whole other topic. But let me say this: sunshine and 80 degrees is NOT justification for hyper-inflation, even though the prevailing numbers might lead you to believe to the contrary. Unless you have a six figure job and/or have at least as much in the bank, forget it. Even a run-down, 40 year old, 1200 sq. ft fixxer upper in Santa Ana or Pico Rivera STARTS at four and a half. That's as in four-hundred-fifty thousand. The skies the limit from there.
Sorry to ramble on. I believe my points are clear.
-Went to Pinnacle Peak last night.
[Edited 2007-10-14 11:08:47]