John Lennon once said of Los Angeles, “That's just a big parking lot where you buy a hamburger for the trip to San Francisco.” Pretty rough stuff from a supposedly nice guy. Clearly, the Eggman (or was he the Walrus?) missed the endless taco stands, the pupusas, the pho, the donuts, the bulgogi burritos or whatever other ethnic comfort food we're deliciously mashing together right now. He was right about one thing: We do have amazing parking (see number 8 below).
I believe we can speak for ourselves.
More than a city of gustatory delights and fantastic parking, we're the one place on the planet where people come exclusively to dream and create – and that's a great start to a killer burgh. Proud Angeleno Werner Herzog said of his adopted city, “Los Angeles is the city with the most substance in the United States — cultural substance. Things get done in Los Angeles.” (And this is coming from a guy who dragged a steamboat through the jungle and finished an interview with a freshly fired bullet in his arm.)
What else is there to say about Los Angeles' awesomeness? Lucky for us, we've recently and painstakingly assembled our annual Best of L.A. issue. Clearly, we know the Best of L.A. is just about the best of anywhere. Here are 50 reasons why Los Angeles is the best effing city in America.
50. We've got the best architectural profile of any city in America. We're America's living sketchpad. We're like a post-post-post-modern poster child. The Ennis House. The Bradbury Building. The Hollyhock House. Neutra Houses. Or just watch Blade Runner.
49. Yup. We make movies here. I'm sure you've heard. We've got the best places to watch them, too: the Arclight, Gold Class Cinema, the Egyptian, the New Bev and Cinefamily.
48. What about outside? Vineland Drive-In.
47. How about in a cemetery? We've got Cinespia, where you can watch movies right next to their stars' graves.
45. Moms and dads with Black Flag t-shirts and neck tattoos, pushing shopping carts and strollers, and getting into mini-vans.
44. Thrift Stores where you won't break the bank. Some where you will.
43. The Rose Bowl Flea Market. Where else can you elbow Beck out of the way for vintage blazers from someone's dead grandma's basement?
42. Motorized transportation is king in L.A. Fine, complain about the lack of public transportation, we're with you. As Metro steps up its game, our car culture will still be a better relic than yours will. We've still got rides to pimp here and here, as well as museum-quality motorcycles here and here.
41. Views. For views of N.Y., you have to be on a bridge, in a building, or defying death in a helicopter above it. In L.A. we've got mountains, hills, hillocks, vistas, canyons, you name it.
40. You can actually raise your kids here without them turning into a Larry Clark / Harmony Korine nightmare. Sure, they may ride out a Less Than Zero phase, but at least they'll make a good movie or two about it.
39. Farmers markets with citrus and some fruits you've never heard of. Bostonians, Washingtonians and Chicagoans can ponder that while they're sifting through another boring version of the same old apple.
37. We invented the T-shirt (arguably).
36. Hip street culture happened here: Skateboarding, surf gangs, real gangs, car clubs, drag racing and graffiti (arguably the first of which was sprayed by Mexican American cliques long before New York picked up a spraycan) all got their start in the City of Angels.
35. And since you probably don't do much walking, you rare kicks will last forever. And you can expand your collection.
34. Tranquil woodsy escapes without ever having to leave the county. In addition to Griffith Park, there are hundreds of others in the city and county of L.A. and the Angeles National Forest is literally minutes away.
33. Stair climbing, outside, in (mostly) fresh air.
32. Nerds and geeks live like kings here.
30. Richard. Fucking. Simmons. And he'll still kick your ass…for twelve bucks.
29. Watts Towers. We'll omit description — there's nothing like it in any other city anywhere.
28. Gangsta rap, obviously. Mssrs. Dre, Dogg, Cube, and E require no further thanks, but one more can't hurt. Be sure to catch them on L.A.'s all old-school hip hop station: K-DAY.
27. Tiki Ti, one of the country's oldest, original tiki bars. It's owner operated, which means you can smoke just about anything you want inside while you pound Ooga Boogas and Mai Tais. You may even spot Bill Murray in there, if you're lucky.
26. The Getty(s). We've got two amazing museums in a city with supposedly no high-brow culture. The larger of the two might as well have been built in the future and is worth visiting for the architecture alone. We've also got LACMA, MOCA, and…
25. The Museum of Neon Art. Yup.
24. The Hollywood Bowl. The Beatles, Monty Python and just about everyone else cool and legendary has played here. Bring dinner. Bring your own wine. Just don't bring bad vibes. Or the Spanish Inquisition.
23. Lunatics. Our lunatics can mop the floor with the lunatics from any other city. Crazy people with failed dreams trump mid-range winos any day of the week. Our lunatics scoff at the tinfoil hats in other towns. Here they dress like your favorite characters and prowl Venice Beach and Hollywood Boulevard.
22. Superman punching Batman….punching Spiderman. In front of the Wicked Witch of the West. See number 23.
21. Taco trucks. Taco stands. Tacos.
20. Echo Park. Someday we'll get our lotuses back. Until then, the fountains, boats and drooping palms are enough.
19. Smog. How is this a good thing, one might ask? Well, it seems to show up only during tourist season, and like an effective asshole-repellent it keeps away people who don't want to know anything about the real L.A.
18. The Coliseum. It has held the Olympic Games twice. 'Nuff said.
17. Weather? Fine, how about 329 days of sunshine? Every. Year.
16. Dodger Stadium. By sheer force of will, this is now the third oldest ballpark in the majors. Come for the sunset views, stay for the Doyer Dogs. The team? Meh. Maybe next year.
15. Institutes of higher learning: USC, UCLA, CSULA…etc etc. Who says Angelenos don't read? There's more books here than in Washington, D.C. and more students to read them.
14. The beaches. Yes. All of them. (L.A. is also the only city in America where you can start your day skiing and end it surfing.)
13. Movies. TV. Web series. We make them. That chick next to you at the coffee shop? She's writing one. The guy on the other side? He's in one. The dude who served you the coffee? He wants to be in one. Everyone else in the shop? We've lit them, shot them, edited them, gaffed them, lived and breathed them. Every single one of them came here to create stuff to entertain you (and get rich and famous too).
12. Shorts. It's OK to wear them at dinner here, even at Spago.
11. We're swimming in a sea of theme parks and you don't have to navigate trailerparks and swamps to get to them. Just the 5. In traffic.
10. Seriously, we do drive everywhere, which is why we have some of the nicest, flattest and cleanest freeways in the country. Take that, Mass Pike.
9. We have the best one-hour commute in the country. Only lucky Angelenos get to gaze out at oceans, canyons and semi-arid landscapes while stuck in traffic. Everyone else has to jockey with pissing hobos and terrible buskers, or driving through rusted-out has-been suburbs.
8. Amazing parking. What was that, Mr. Lennon? Yeah, we do have some great parking. Good luck finding that in SF, NY, Boston, Chicago or Philly.
6. A myriad of ethnic enclaves: Chinatown, Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Tehrangeles, Little Tokyo and Thai Town, and that's just the beginning. Hundreds of languages, hundreds of cultures, hundreds of ways to turn all of those national cuisines into tacos or burritos.
5. In-N-Out Burger. We invented fast food, then we perfected it. Again, you're welcome.
4. 16 NBA Championships? Done. And if you root for the underdog? We've got that too: The Clippers have only had 6 winning seasons in nearly 30 years.
3. The Sunset Strip. (Rejoice, hair metal fans.)
2. We're the home of the modern surfboard.
1. Weed… er, medication.
Many thanks to L.A. Weekly staffers Dennis Romero, Amy Scattergood, Jill Stewart, Ben Westhoff and Simone Wilson for their help with this list.