**Note: This post is quite overdue. I wrote it on my phone on the plane back from Los Angeles and forgot about it. Enjoy!
First impressions make a huge difference in the way people perceive things. Hence the phrase: “Judging a book by its cover.”
I remember when I went on a college visit in Michigan. My mother and I stayed at a hotel in downtown Detroit. It was the first time I had been there, and it made a lasting impression. When you walk the streets of a big city, in between all the high rises, you expect to see people walking the sidewalks and cars on the streets. In Detroit, all of those were conspicuously absent. It was like a massive ghost town. It was very unsettling and made me anxious and uncomfortable. This post is about my tip and how first impressions can color things and how they are hard to overcome.
I took a trip in late August to check out two potential cities I might move to: San Francisco and Los Angeles.
After my flight landed in San Francisco, I took the public transit to the city. I get off the train (called the BART) from the airport in the middle of the financial district and that eerie feeling I got in Detroit came back with a flood. The streets were devoid of people or cars. There was no one around except the people that got off the Bart with me. As I walked around, the only people I saw were two or three homeless people for blocks. I had some time to kill before I could check into my hotel, so I explored looking for people in the desolation. The more I wandered, the more I realized that the sidewalks and streets are very dirty here. I realized later that a large part of that is because it rarely rains in San Francisco, so the water cannot wash away the dirt. When the time to check into my hotel came closer, I started heading in that direction. And as I went I finally saw some people, but they were bands of homeless people.
Reflection. The deserted streets and abundance of homeless really put me off in the beginning. However I gave the city another chance and it rewarded me. I realized that the cheap hotel/hostel that I stayed in was cheap partly because of shared bathrooms and Spartan accommodation, but because it is right next to one of the worst parts of town. But that it’s the trade off with an expensive city and a limited budget.
As I explored the city and got to know it better, I realized that it is just like any other city, with its good and bad parts. I happened to be staying in the bad part, which skewed my first impression. With my exploration, came the discovery of the better parts of town; the parts that everyone raves about. I still don’t think I could live there, in part because it is so damn expensive, but I think I would really like the suburbs or the surrounding areas in the valley.
I took a tour bus out to Muir Woods and the coast. After growing up in the Midwest, seeing the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean was stunning. I cannot imagine what Lewis and Clark must have felt when their journey took them here.
Los Angeles: The City of Dreams… and Nightmares
The conclusion to a couple of the most ridiculous two days of my life:
I fly into LA on Tuesday night and go to the Lego + Belkin launch party of their new iPhone case, with a Lego board on the back. On Wednesday I went to the Warner Brothers studio tour. We looked at all the sets for Conan, Two and a Half Men, and Two Broke Girls. We then went to the on-site museum where the sorting hat used in Harry Potter sorted me into the Slytherin house (oh no!). I concluded the day with a night that I will never forget. The friend I was staying with, Chris, works for Steve Aoki’s music studio. That night Steve was filming a music video and needed extras. We found out after we got there that the music video included Richard Simmons. The premise was that the headphones teleported Steve Aoki into Richard Simmons for some reason. Now if you asked me for the most random “celebrity” I could have seen while in LA, I couldn’t have even gone that deep into the list of celebs.
Now, not only did we see him, but since we were performing our role as the crowd–A signature thing for Steve Aoki concerts is that he throws a cake out into the audience. So since he was acting as Steve, he threw a cake into the crowd, which I was a part of. Later, Richard dressed up in drag (apparently his thing?) and was walking through the people as we were acting like we were partying for the show. It was a very strange experience.
While we filmed the parts with Steve Aoki, he also threw a cake, and it happened to be on the girl standing right next to me. He also sprayed two bottles of champagne all over the crowd. So by the end, I was drenched in champagne and cake and in state of disbelief that that whole experience had happened. What a couple of days.