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Los Angeles: Jack of All Trades, Master of None.

- Ethan F

I travel west. I travel to visit my family, some of whom I have never met before. This coast is foreign to me. The mountains rise above Venice beach; I feel like I’m dreaming. And what a dream it is.

I’ve had turkey neatloaf (not a spelling error, it’s just neat). I’ve had West Coast bagels. I’ve had blackened mahi mahi. I’ve enjoyed Mexican pizza and Italian tacos. All of it is fantastic. All of it, though, feels imported. What is Los Angeles food? There isn’t one dish. They have everything. But they have no specialties.

My brother–about to be married–took us on a tour around the beach and the promenade. All around were remnants from bygone eras: Record stores from the 70’s, old movie rental joints ( with titles like “Vidiots”), street art on places where you can almost smell the hair spray and see the jump suits of the 80’s. All the retroness is contrasted by the modern art installations, e.g., a huge beehive made of intertwining metal that catches the sun at a certain time each day. And by the sprawling complexes like the promenade. The place used to be a mall straight out of the 80’s. Now it’s an outside shopping center (even that word is a modern euphemism) that boasts all the American commodities like Disney, Urban Outfitters, [Insert clever frozen yogurt shop name].

Behind the California sheen, I see pieces of Jersey here. Those who live close to the ocean know the vibe. The vastness is humbling, inspiring, and most of all enchanting.

View from The Perch, an upscale restaurant in Los Angeles: an ice rink in 70 degree weather.

View from The Perch, an upscale restaurant in Los Angeles: an ice rink in 70 degree weather.

Another view from the perch: taste of the West Coast skyline.

Another view from the perch: taste of the West Coast skyline.

 

Though Venice lies just a few miles from Hollywood, the people here are constantly reminded of their own humanity. People here are happy. Not because they live in the land of eternal summer. Not because they have restaurants geared towards gourmet food under 500 calories. Not because their streets are heated if the temperature drops to a chilling 60 degrees. It is because the shore beckons from every street.

There are codes in place that prevent construction above a certain height, that way the beach can always be seen. We Jerseyians know the blessing of being shore-grown.

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