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Say It With Us: I Don't Even Go East of the 405 Anymore

The 405
The 405
Ted Soqui

Dear Westsiders Still Willing to Go East of the 405:

When will you quit? Don't you know there's nothing out there for you? You belong here. With us. Tucked into our sanctuary between Sepulveda and the Pacific. Basking in that brilliant California sun ... which is somewhere up there above the marine layer, I just know it.

I'm here to liberate you. To relieve you of those stubborn eastward persuasions with nine little words that, when arranged just so and delivered with just the right dose of nonchalance, carry the power of a thousand perfect excuses to never leave your beachside haven:

I don't even go east of the 405 anymore.

Try it. Say it yourself.

Feels good, doesn't it?

You may be dubious. Because where would you find cheap delicious tacos if you couldn't venture to Tacos Leo or Guisados or Marisco Jalisco? Are you doomed to reserve a table-for-one at some overpriced Westside bistro just to get some decent al pastor? Well, yes. Yes you are. But do not panic, Westsider Still Willing to Go East of the 405. So what if you cough up $6 for one petit-sized taco? And so what if it's stuffed with quail and kale instead of asada and cilantro?

And, yeah, OK, maybe it does taste a little like a dirty bicycle tire. But that's the price you pay for enjoying a summer climate that's a full four degrees cooler than the rest of the city. So say it with me... I don't even go east of the 405 anymore.

You'll find the words have an astonishing effect. Like a flash grenade at a riot, they bewilder the target, provoking a wave of crippling emotions: shame, regret, envy, distress. People will think, I'm pretty sure I don't like this guy/girl, yet I can't help but want to please him/her. Then they'll insist that you join them at the killer new bar by their apartment where they make the best old-fashioned in town and all the bartenders have anchor tattoos on their forearms.  

And will you go?

You will not. Because that killer new bar is in Eagle Rock. And what the hell is Eagle Rock? Is it on top of a mountain somewhere? Is it the new Indiana Jones movie? Is it music for birds

Oh, people may scoff. They may make fart noises in your face. They'll tell you Eagle Rock is the city's hottest neighborhood, and getting hipper by the day.

So how will you get out of trekking to this so-called "Eagle's Rock"? Complain about traffic? Induce vomiting? Claim you forgot to plug in your Nissan Leaf last night? No, no. Just nine little words: I don't even go east of the 405 anymore.

Still... what of sports? Surely you don't want to miss out on the city's greatest rivalries happening downtown. Dodgers-Angels! Kings-Ducks! Lakers-Clippers! And who could forgo the annual ritual of tailgating the USC-UCLA game and waking up the next day trying to piece together why you spent the whole game convincing that freshman sitting next to you that prostate enlargement will be an issue sooner than he thinks? Fear not, Westsider! Ever heard of a little rivalry called LMU vs. Pepperdine? Lions vs. Waves? Jesuits vs. Churches of Christ? Uh, yeah. Pretty heated stuff. So pick a side and buckle up, kiddo. Because you don't even go east of the 405 anymore.

Make no mistake; this will take fortitude. You will turn down untold numbers of museum and gallery invites. But at little cost, I'm sure. LACMA? What's there, like, a big rock and some street lamps? Skip it. MOCA? Didn't they go bankrupt or something? The Getty? Well, technically it's west of the 405, so I guess that's fine. But the Downtown L.A. Art Walk? No thank you, sir or madam. Seeing one's name printed on a grain of rice on Venice Boardwalk is all the progressive art a true connoisseur needs.

And if they mock, if they laugh, if roll their eyes in disgust, Westsider, you simply tell them, you know what? I did brave a cultural journey across that fateful freeway once. It was long ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Or maybe the day before yesterday. I got on the 10 and ventured as far east as I could muster: Overland Avenue. I entered a strange land the locals referred to as "Culver City," and there I encountered the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

And it was really, really, really weird. Really weird. And there were no dinosaurs. At least, I don't think so. I'm not really sure what went on in that place.

But it doesn't matter. Because I'm never going back. You know why? Because (everybody now!)... I don't even go east of the 405 anymore. 


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