Some Thoughts about NYC vs LA

I’m not saying that one is better than the other. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 14 years and I don’t plan on moving any time soon. Of course I’d love to be bi-coastal and have a place in the city, but I’ll have to be satisfied with my yearly trips.

I’ve been visiting NY regularly since 1979 when my folks brought us for the Feast of St. Anthony and we stayed in a tiny 5th floor walkup in Little Italy (a friend’s apartment). Of course Little Italy has changed lots since then (but so has my Silverlake neighborhood since I moved there 13 years ago).

Here are a few of the things I’ve noticed about NYC:

Bike Chains – in Los Angeles the bike locks are either those U shaped steel things or simple plastic wrapped wire cables. In New York, I only see those huge chains that probably weigh as much as the bike itself. (Honestly, I haven’t noticed as many bikes in NY as I see in LA, but I could just be traveling in the wrong ‘hoods.)

Fruit Ubiquity – it’s far easier to get your daily fruit and vegetables in NYC than it is in LA. Sure, in Los Angeles you can pick it off of a tree, and if you’re lucky it’s a tree that hangs over the sidewalk and you can partake of FallenFruit. But here in NYC it looks like fresh fruit, fruit salads, vegetables … it’s at the corner shops, piled high at the checkouts at the coffee shops and street vendors.

Honking – car horns have a different language in NYC. In Los Angeles a car honk usually means “wake up, you jackhole!” and they come in intense bursts but really aren’t that common. In NY it seems that it can mean many things besides that. Often it just means “I’m not slowing down for you so get outta the way!” Sometimes there doesn’t appear to be a reason at all, maybe it’s because the light is green. Or red. Or yellow.

Toilets – it’s just not easy to find a bathroom in New York, but that’s not really that different from Los Angeles, hell there are parts of Hollywood and Downtown LA that smell an awful lot like NY. The thing that I’ve noticed is how much less common it is to find “seat protectors” in NY. I don’t know of many bathrooms that don’t have them in Los Angeles … but I haven’t seen many in NY. I’m not saying that you folks have dirty asses … of course I also haven’t encountered the “peed on seat” as much as in LA, so maybe folks are more toilet-polite here (or have better aim).

Cell Phones – In Los Angeles we have problems with people driving and talking. It seems in NY it’s walking and talking. Of course “pulling over” to dial on Eighth Avenue ain’t easy at 8:30 AM.

Theatre Starts on Time – I know it seems like an odd thing to notice, but I went to see Sweeney Todd and it actually started on time! This NEVER happens in Los Angeles. I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a show, even at the Ahmanson or Taper that started sooner than 10 after the hour.

Volume in all Frequencies – sure, cities are loud, but I don’t think my ears have ever been assualted in all ranges like they are in NYC. High frequency squeals of train brakes, low frequency jackhammers, eardrum-blasting sandblasting and powerwashers … of course I have sensitive ears and I feel damn silly sticking my fingers in them when the emergency vehicles go by. I’m a wuss … it hurts!

Elevation Changes – Angelinos travel great distances horizontally, New Yorkers do it vertically. I figure if I’m staying on the 26th floor of a hotel and working on the 33rd floor of an office building, I’m doing a lot of up and down. It’s murder on my ears (I’ve had a cold), nothing I’m ever subject to at home. What’s even odder, I can’t remember the last time I was in an elevator in Los Angeles.

I know the altitude thing sounds silly and when I did some digging around on the net, I found out how freaky it actually is. I mean, how could my ears be so troubled by going from sea level to 300 feet in a matter of seconds? The difference in pressure is going from 1 atmosphere to 0.9865773841008381. If it’s such a small difference, why do my ears hurt so much?

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