When I first came to LA, I had a very specific vision of what it would be like and that was mostly Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake madly in love, wearing matching denim outfits.
More sane people picture the more appropriate famous Hollywood sign, beaches, mountains, palm trees, stars embedded into sidewalks, avocado trees on every corner, and a cemetery with video displays that is mostly a tourist attraction than a place of rest for the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Sorry, Los Angeles. I just want you to be the 90’s version of yourself. I drove around fancy neighborhoods listening to Everclear, Blink-182, CAKE, and Weezer’s “Beverly Hills.” I listened to Tom Petty on repeat while driving through Reseda to pick up a rusty bike I got for $40 on Craigslist.
I talked to Khloe Kardashian, worked with YouTube stars iJustine, Joey Graceffa, and Lohanthony among others. I sat at a table next to comedian Chris D’Elia at a restaurant. I worked alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it was just his post-governor of California stage. It wasn’t the same. Instead, I freaked out when Tia Mowry came onto the Food Network set on a day I wasn’t working and stared at Lauren Collins, who WAS PAIGE IN DEGRASSI, sitting across from me at a bar in Silver Lake once. I was more excited that a friend of mine in the art department made a version of Plank from Ed, Edd, and Eddy than having Miley Cyrus nearly a foot away from me.
I wanted the 1990’s and I wanted LA to embody it entirely. 2014 Los Angeles just didn’t resonate with me at all. Where was the Nickelodeon slime? I drunkenly stumbled over Hollywood stars on the grimiest sidewalk in Los Angeles when friends from college and I got off at the wrong metro stop. Homeless people littered the street corners and every time I passed them I knew I was just one paycheck away from joining them. I gave them spare granola bars, canned food, and water bottles.
LA, unfortunately, is the city of modern times. Instead of Total Request Live, butterfly clips, and eyebrow piercings, we have people lined up in front of a pink wall so they can take pictures for their Instagram. Everyone has a phone attached to their hands and their hair dyed gray. We still have choker necklaces, but it’s just not the same when it’s on Bella Hadid instead of Gwen Stefani, who’s currently married to a country star?
I just pictured the lead singer of No Doubt to marry some brown guy with spiky hair.
I got to LA too late and now it’s just a mecca of Instagram and YouTube stars who I could care less about (okay some of them are my friends IRL, but the other ones I do not care about, I swear). It’s just – I don’t care about my appearance and EVERYONE ELSE DOES.
Everyone in LA has perfect, shiny white teeth. Long gone are the days of artistic, crazy outfits on the red carpet (Lady Gaga has toned it down A LOT, but she and Miley can’t be the only ones, okay, you guys?). I guess LA was always about appearance, but I felt like no one cared TOO much in the 90’s.
I just… want it to be 20 years ago, okay? I know that until someone invents a time machine, I won’t get 90’s LA no matter how hard I will it. Sure, there are barcades now (the greatest idea of all time) and leftover graffiti of former 90’s glory, but it just isn’t the same. Now there are at least three juice chains with their names “artfully” misspelled. People exchange Instagram handles instead of phone numbers (because we both know I won’t remember your name, 765th person I’ve met in LA).
I once had a background actor on a shoot ask me, the 2nd AD (aka their boss/wrangler), out on a date and when I refused, he said, “Don’t you know who I am? Look me up on Instagram right now.” I took out my phone. He had 15k-something followers, looking at me with his eyebrows raised. “Oh wowww,” I responded sarcastically. He followed me. I didn’t follow him back.
What do you think LA is really like? What do you want it to be? Let me know in the comments below.
- The Emma Edit: Remembering the 90s
- Life / El Paso Woman: Things I Miss From the 90’s
- Longreads: The ‘Artwashing’ of East Los Angeles <- Far more interesting/appropriate/important than this post, seriously.
- Fadanista: Nothing LAX about LA