The NY Times has a provocative Style section article this weekend that has inspired a lot of chatter on social media: "Los Angeles and Its Booming Creative Class Lures New Yorkers." It's all about artistically-minded NYers who have become fed up with the financial (and emotional) restrictions of NYC circa 2015, and have decided to take their social media talents to the West Coast industrial oasis where you can, indeed, turn right on red.

I was tempted to make this a Brunch Hate Read, but this article is far more thought-provoking and worthy of discussion than the typical NY Times weekend articles about hungover futurism consultants and .1%ers who have trained their offspring to help them buy multi-million real estate. Having said that, it's still an article that seems to think sunshine is a balm for everything (for those of us who crave overcast days, this is less than convincing) and only concentrates on a narrow subset of transplants who take life cues from Moby.

Do you really trust the opinions of people who want to make LA out to be like Little New York? The descriptions of "the in-season Zambian coffee outposts, the galleries, the vintage clothing boutiques" makes me feel like this mass migration (if it even is that: "The census bureau does not specifically track the migration patterns of Bushwick neo-expressionists and digital brand strategists") will end up about as well as Sterling Cooper's attempts at opening a West Coast branch. It seems inherently flawed and self-defeating to approach a place with an entirely different culture as if it is just an extension of the place you are leaving—which is something some locals seem to have picked up on.

Carman Tse, one of the editors of LAist, also had some serious issues with the way the article painted his hometown: "It focuses on an extremely small subset of the population, and
it makes it seem like it’s a cushy place to 'fail,'" he noted. "It completely ignores that LA has been in a 'housing crisis' for years, where the price of rent has gone up faster than the average household income."

This part especially stuck out to me:

This is not to say Los Angeles is always a natural fit. The New Yorker is always going to be a nonnative species in Los Angeles, which has its own status codes, its own rhythms, its own body language.

“There’s a major adjustment period,” said Jeff Thrope, a creative consultant (and former contributor to T Magazine) who moved from New York. “Los Angeles is definitely not New York with palm trees.” “

Newcomers face a catastrophic drought (a developing crisis), and endless traffic snarls (an enduring one). The latter may explain why the emerging image of Los Angeles as bohemian paradise seems to take hold mostly among those whose careers allow them to work at home in blogging, photography and freelance web design.

I've never been to LA (I have no close friends there, I'm not particularly interested in fashion scenes or bungalows, and I'd rather spend any time I have going places outside the US), so I have a very limited view of the city (other than the fact that "I Love LA" is an awesome song). But a lot of the article's descriptions of this new bohemia read as very superficial to me. They also do to Jake Dobkin, who has spent significant time there and has also written extensively that people who want to leave NYC should GTFO already. He pointed to three main failings of the article:

  • It doesn't devote an appropriate amount of space to traffic, or how much time you will spend in your car wishing everyone else in the city was dead
  • It fails to take into account the cost of commuting by car when figuring out the cost of living. It adds like $500 to your rent there every month, which cancels out much of the gain over NYC, especially in popular neighborhoods which are already expensive, like Venice or Santa Monica or Silver Lake
  • It focuses on a very small sliver of population who might genuinely be better off living in LA—people who work at home and who are in their 20s. Once you're in your 30s and have kids, you're much better off in NYC, with our better public schools and public transport, rather than living in LA and chauffeuring your kids around for 15 years

In conclusion, "I Love LA" is a really, really great song. We can't say that enough. Randy Newman is a god damn genius.

Oh, and if you want to move to LA, you should! You should move anywhere you think you can find some semblance of happiness and sanity. I'm sure it's pleasant wearing sandals year-round. The tacos are almost certainly delicious. Just please don't write any goodbyes to NY. Please don't. Nobody cares.