NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- (Cue one of the cheesiest ways to open an article): If you're like me, you were probably brought up, even if unintentionally, to hate Los Angeles. There's half a chance you still hate LA. If I had not gone through the process I have with respect to this city -- or, more aptly, this series of diverse city centers -- I might still hate it to.
As a kid, growing up in Niagara Falls, NY, Los Angeles was this place where weirdos lived. Fruits and nuts. Hollywood types. Liberals. As I got a bit older, I always wondered how Kennedy Democrats could turn so Republican and go along with the hijacking and demonization of the term "liberal," but I digress in favor of the somewhat-related subject matter at hand.
A year out of high school, my radio career took me to Miami in 1995, Pittsburgh in 1996, Dallas in 1997, and Las Vegas in 1999. Along the way I sent tapes (so old school) to stations in LA. I figured if a market that large would have me, I'd go there, despite the hesitation triggered by my preconceived notions.
Somewhere along the way I fell in love with cities.
Actually, it was the summer of 1999, while in Boston for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. I was so captivated by that city's urban terrain, I skipped the game to walk the streets. That's when I became a flaneur. On the flight back "home" to Las Vegas, I made the decision: I was moving to a big city.
LA never called. But San Francisco offered immediate opportunity. Plus it struck me as more of an actual city, in the traditional sense, than Los Angeles, so I decided to move there, arriving Labor Day weekend 1999.
Living in what Bay Area people call "The City" only intensified my dislike for LA, a place that, mind you, as of 1999, I had never set foot in.
People in San Francisco tend to hate LA, whereas, I have come to find, LA folks either love San Francisco, are indifferent or have no time for the petty debate Northern Californians seemingly obsess over. The moment you enter San Francisco's 49 square miles, you're actively programmed to hate LA.
To top off the experience, I chose to attend college while in San Francisco. I majored in urban studies, a discipline that uses Los Angeles to illustrate everything the professors who teach it think is "wrong" with modern cities. The academics I worked with at San Francisco State University (and, in graduate school, at the University of California-Irvine) were all fantastic, but, almost to a person, they made their students just as skeptical of and disgusted by Los Angeles as they clearly were.
UC-Irvine required a move to Orange County (south of Los Angles, north of San Diego), which, long story short, made me and my family long for something resembling "The City." So we moved to Los Angeles in 2007.
It's amazing what actual experience -- as opposed to talking out of an ass, steeped in ignorance -- can do. Since making Los Angeles (and now Santa Monica, for the last 3.5 years) home, I have grown to love the place.
LA has a way of making people who take the time to explore and understand it, love it.
These three "reasons" should help color the process that turned unfounded hate into near unconditional love. You're not getting "list article" fluff here. No I love LA because it has In-N-Out Burger. I hope to begin to illustrate the emotional connections we make with our, inherently social and psychological, built environments.