“True Angelinos”: Distinctive Characteristics of SoCal Folks
This was a KPCC radio special this afternoon about the general lifestyles of people in Southern California, with a specific focus on Los Angeles. Some of these were things I remembered on my own (italics).
- Naming freeways with an article: “the 405,” “the 110,” and so on. When giving directions, people will say things like, “You take the  up/down to the  and get off at [insert major street here]. NorCal folks leave off the article.
- Measuring distance by time, “We’re only 10 minutes away.” “Oh, from here to so-and-so is about a 45 minute drive/hour bus ride. I assume that since LA is so spread out, we really don’t have the luxury of knowing how many miles away a destination is.
- No excitement over a film being shot in your neighborhood. Clarification: people from “inner-city” low income areas experience some initial excitement, but it fades away quickly.
- Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you still speak Spanish. Or Spanglish at best. Case and point: I was in a neighborhood park playing with my brother, when a small boy came and joined us. We were at least able to know when he wanted to stop for water, when he wanted the ball passed to him (para mi, por mi), and I was able to ask what his name was: Fransisco.
- We hate to hear people call it “lala-land.” I have never heard of this, but it does sound really silly.
- Abuse of handicap placards.
- Rush hour is from 6am to 11am and from 2pm to 8pm – and you accept that as a fact of life.
- Intolerance for any weather other than 70 degrees. A BIG truth. I get many figurative pats on the back when people find out I go to school in Vermont.
- We wear lighter brighter colors. Really light and bright, especially true for young people.
- Not caring about earthquakes/you learn to judge whether it’s worth getting up for. Also, we gladly tell others if we were the quake site or the aftershock, based on the news or what we personally felt.
- Sometimes we get tired of the constant sun and bright blue empty skies. But as soon as it drizzles people are either freaking out with umbrellas or walking around with summer clothes and not caring when it actually does rain.
- Speaking of weather, on a normal day, people in “the basin” can’t see the valley and coastal mountains for shit because of all the smog.
- Most people tend to void the valet parking by principle, even if money is not an issue. A good day means finding nearby unmetered street parking and walking a short distance to your destination!
- In even the smallest amount of rainfall, people start slowing down and driving weird. The other host’s defense: at least in the beginning of the rain season (which is like…never) people get nervous that the rain will dredge up the oil that has collected on the roads.
- LA natives tend to know the city like the back of their hand, and don’t think of it has a huge place – they know how to find the strangest shortcuts. This is only true for people who drive a lot or know the metro system well. I still think everything is far away and I always use Google maps!
- Crime rates for homicide are actually going down, but we never believe this.
- We are really attached to the valley. Places like Palmdale, Lancaster, and Bakersfield are the go to places for people in at least central and west LA. It’s were most of your friends and family will likely move to for “better housing.”
- We recognize Los Angeles landmarks in films supposedly shot in another location. Now, this is true for other places I’m sure, but case and point: many parts of the limbo dream layer in Inception were shot in nooks of downtown LA. I remember saying, “I’ve been there!” while watching, and my friend was like – How?!! “Well…I used to skip school to go to the Central Library and wander around town…”
- Exposed to many different cultures and extremely diverse- but in sections. Being spread out, you get a “patchwork diversity” roughly as follows: Beaches, Beverly hills, North Hollywood – white and asian. Same with the far away suburbs. Downtown and approaching: Little Tokyo, Korea Town, Chinatown, Little Ethiopia. Baldwin Hills is the black version of Beverly Hills near Inglewood (but “the jungles” gang area is right at the bottom). Then you have East LA – hispanic. South LA – hispanic and black. Other “hoods/ghettos” with the same demographics. West LA – pockets of every thing. There is mixture in all areas, but people really stay to themselves. Ride the metro, or be a passenger with someone. Once you get “out of the hood,” you will see an array of shitty changes like: buses getting cleaner; seeing people out and about jogging;riding bikes for pleasure instead of low funds or homelessness; bike lanes; museums; theatres; concert halls; book stores; clean, well stocked libraries; creative and political graffiti; billboards for expensive stuff; trendy obscure fashion stores. The only exception is skid row downtown, where you can see a diverse population of homeless people.
- You can go skiing and surfing in the same day. Again, this is not typically experienced by people in the inner city and low income areas, although some inner city folks can brag that they’ve been to Big Bear mountain and saw snow.
- Wearing uggs in 50 degree weather – or higher.
- NorCal is a whole other world unless actually visited. When I tell people where I’m from, they tell me things like, “Oh I’ve been to San Fransisco, what a city,” and all I can do is smile and nod. I have never seen the golden gate bridge or the giant redwoods either.
- We don’t say hella – that’s a NorCal term, probably the bay area. We also rarely call the state “Cali.”
- We love to crack jokes and espouse how much we know about this place with a pride you shouldn’t take seriously.
- You can hate it or not care about it, but still talk it up.