By Stanley Bing
May 28, 2008

Hi. I’m in LA. There are a lot of things to like about LA, and I like all of them. Maybe that’s because I don’t live here. People who live here complain about it a lot. There are certainly a lot of things to complain about, mostly having to do with the traffic, which really is horrendous, no doubt about it. But for a business person on a legitimate trip here, there’s really very few cities that can compare. If this is a city. Which I doubt. 

The Center Does Not Hold: Gertrude Stein said about Oakland that “there’s no there there,” but I’ve been to Oakland recently and take it from me, there’s more There in Oakland than there is is LA. Here there is truly no there. And that’s one of it’s major appeals. Everywhere we go in business, we have to be there. The fact that there is no there here makes it very interesting. Because wherever you go is almost equally worthwhile. It’s not like Manhattan or Chicago or even San Francisco, where if you’re not in a specific part of town, depending on your business, you’re not Where It Is.

Here you could be in Westwood. You could be in Fairfax. You could be in Burbank. You could be in Studio City. You could be just about anyplace but downtown LA, where nobody goes except the booksellers this week, because it’s their big convention and nobody told them that nobody wants to be in downtown LA, ever. The really big business takes place where people have coffee and a little pastry. Which explains Santa Monica, where there’s all this cool stuff going on and everybody’s walking around in shorts and a baseball cap making deals that gross billions. 

Time Out of Mind: In addition to there being no hierarchy of place, the timing of the whole place is weird. Like, I was up at 6 today, talking to people in New York. Sounds bad, I know, but in a way it’s not. You get all the tough stuff behind you first thing in the morning. Then you have a little juice, take a run, maybe, throw a frisbee with the dog, that kind of thing. Pretty soon it’s time to go to the office.

You’ve just spent three hours while everybody back east is ripping their hearts out with can openers and you haven’t even broken a sweat. When you get to your desk here, if you have a desk here, if your desk isn’t in a Starbucks (SBUX) or Four Seasons, it’s lunchtime back where people are wearing tight clothes and yelling at each other about the price of something. Before you know it, it’s time for your lunch when they’re just getting back from theirs. Come 11:30 or so, you’ve got to get into your car and drive to your lunch place, which takes a while, and then it’s time to eat and them come back and New York is already thinking about going home! Honestly, I believe that people in LA think they’ve worked a hard day when they had a lunch and maybe two meetings! To me? That’s a good philosophy. 

Pressure Drop: Look, I know if I lived here I would eventually torque up the neurotic internal temperature. But I just don’t feel it here. Maybe that’s why all those crazy people came out here in the 20s and 30s… because Uncle Morty and Dad were back east and there was time to peel an orange and take a swim here with nobody to say, “Hey! What are you doing! Get back to work!”

Yesterday, I had lunch in a funky little place in Studio City. It was full of people who had some part of them extruding a post or silver stud of some kind. I had a burger. The guy at the next table, who was talking about putting a script into turnaround, had French Toast. My guess is that he was eating breakfast at 1 PM. What I wouldn’t give, ladies and gentlemen, to be eating a business breakfast at 4 PM New York time. 

Anyhow, I’m here until tomorrow, then I go up to Silicon Valley for a visit with some of the dudes who are monetizing the ether. Until then, I’ll see you when I see you. 

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