Welcome to Los Angeles, You Now Have Permission to Ask If the Free Samples at Trader Joe’s Are Vegan

Welcome to Los Angeles, you now have permission to ask if the free samples at Trader Joe’s are vegan.

You should also know that your infant child is the most precious thing in LA and worldwide, and so it is everyone’s responsibility to tolerate, if not appreciate and embrace your child’s every whim and public tantrum, even if and especially when these crying outbursts occur in the special exhibition gallery at the Getty museum on a Wednesday afternoon. Because exposing your children to priceless works of art is an important part of their upbringing even if they are still too young to abstain from shitting themselves and cannot yet form the consonants necessary to say, “Is this soy-based non-dairy creamer organic?”

It is also now your right to sit at a green turn arrow on Santa Monica while texting your agent and ignore the piercing wail of car horns behind you, and after finishing your test message, you are entitled to raise a vehement middle finger to the honking driver behind you who had the audacity to consider theirs and everyone else’s time equally or more valuable than your own. Because the world is yours and we’re all just living in it, and you will decide when and how fast to make that turn onto Highland avenue when you’re damn good and ready.

It’s also time to put on a lot of makeup before hitting the gym. Some might say that this is an unnecessary waste of time, but your Lululemon sports bra top and matching yoga pants should complement the collagen lip injections, fake tits, and Ulta cosmetics that you paid damn good money for. And it’s not like you need to work out to maintain your figure, anyway—that’s what kale chips and purging are for.

20150330_133447And having just moved to Los Angeles myself, I’m excited to finally be able to proudly wear my early 1990s Soundgarden t-shirt and True Religion skinny jeans unironically while smoking my vaporizer at that new bar on Sunset where a Moscow Mule costs $17; $23 if you want something better than Absolut, which everyone knows is the equivalent of drinking Bactine and driving a Ford Focus.

But having lived and worked in Chicago, Denver, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose, here’s why I love Los Angeles: In spite of all the criticisms of this being home to an endless parade of aspiring actors and actresses and screenwriters and directors who haven’t a shot in the world of making it, at least this is home to those people who are unabashedly pursuing their dreams, no matter how delusional those dreams may sometimes be.

Sure, people should confront reality from time to time and reevaluate their plans in anticipation of whether they want to have a savings account funded with something more than the tips they’ve made waiting tables and tending bar by the time they’re 40, but what makes LA such a wonderful city to be an aspiring artist of any kind is that you can freely share and discuss your creative endeavors with others and not be met with a look of condescending skepticism. Having just moved here from the new San Francisco bay area, where unless you work in tech or finance and drive a Tesla you are regarded as a failure, Los Angeles has proven to be unexpectedly refreshing.

Most people’s impression of Los Angeles is of some sort of a claustrophobic hovel marked by endless traffic and a sea of self-absorbed vegetarians who read tarot cards, palms, and horoscopes with the same examining, critical eye that east coasters will read The New York Times. And yes, while the local news is essentially a watered-down version of TMZ hosted by tanned fifty-something men with glossy gray hair and weather women in custom-made Versace dress suits, what makes it all tolerable is that there seems to be a self-awareness that all of this is a bit of a joke, that none of this should be taken too seriously and we’re all Los Angelinos (may I call myself one yet?) firmly in on that joke.

159504_LAoil _KDM_And why shouldn’t we be? We live in southern California, home to mountains, beaches, and tar pits all within a day’s drive of each other, and we have endless sun and beautiful women who will go to bed with you for even hinting that you might someday like to consider maybe adopting a dog from a homeless shelter.

This city is sort of like the freaks and geeks table in the high school cafeteria (i.e., the theater kids), and while I’m not writing this entirely through rose-colored glasses, wholly unaware of the vein of pretentious douchebaggery that wends its way through Los Angeles like Santa Monica or Wilshire themselves, it should be understood that that douchebaggery doesn’t touch every aspect of life in Los Angeles due to sheer numbers—there must invariably be a greater proportion of people among the aspiring class than among the condescending pretentious class given that so few of the former ever ascend beyond that aspiring moniker, and even those who pass out of it are not automatically douchebags simply by dint of their success. Those who are inherently douchebags simply make their presence so much more known and exude a disproportionate impact upon the world that it may only seem as though the upper echelons are composed primarily of them. Many, if not most of those who become successes are and remain the great people they always were, and most of the venom with which they may be regarded is just the projected insecurity of those standing envious in the corners.

For myself, just being a part of a fun landscape and a member of a likeminded community is enough. There’s enough excitement and fun to be had living here and running through the amateur, aspiring class that Los Angeles feels so much like a perfect fit for all of the lost misfits who enjoy the “zef” zaniness that is LA and its denizens of a 21st century Chat Noir.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to run to the store to purchase some organic, limited ingredient canned food for my emotional support dog.

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