I got back from Los Angeles last night and my head is still spinning. I'd move there again in a heartbeat.
There are three great cities in the United States: there's Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York – in that order.
I love Boston; I even love Denver; I like Miami; I think Washington DC is habitable; but Los Angeles is Los Angeles. You can't compare it to Paris, or to London, or to Rome, or to Shanghai. You can interestingly contrast it to those cities, sure, and Los Angeles even comes out lacking; but Los Angeles is still Los Angeles.
[Image: L.A., as photographed by Marshall Astor].
No matter what you do in L.A., your behavior is appropriate for the city. Los Angeles has no assumed correct mode of use. You can have fake breasts and drive a Ford Mustang – or you can grow a beard, weigh 300 pounds, and read Christian science fiction novels. Either way, you're fine: that's just how it works. You can watch Cops all day or you can be a porn star or you can be a Caltech physicist. You can listen to Carcass – or you can listen to Pat Robertson. Or both.
That's how we dooz it.
L.A. is the apocalypse: it's you and a bunch of parking lots. No one's going to save you; no one's looking out for you. It's the only city I know where that's the explicit premise of living there – that's the deal you make when you move to L.A.
The city, ironically, is emotionally authentic.
It says: no one loves you; you're the least important person in the room; get over it. What matters is what you do there.
I agree with his assessment about the three great American cities--San Francisco and Boston are wonderful, but then so is Madison. None of them are as consequential as the big three. I think he gets Washington right--it is perfectly pleasant, and has become far more international in the years I have been coming and going to and from it, but I have never been able to fall in love with it, as I have Madison--and Chicago, New York and Los Angeles (and Rome and Tokyo and Hong Kong and Mumbai, but that is for another time).
In any case, Randy Newman's song is not ironic, and neither am I--I love LA, and am looking forward to many happy years there.