The latest edition of The Hollywood Reporter advertises itself on its cover as "The New York Issue" and, in an article, addresses a topic that I've always found fascinating: the cultural differences between the East Coast and the West Coast--or, to be more specific, the cultural differences between their respective capitals, New York and Los Angeles.
I've visited LA a couple of times and live in New York, so I have a vague sense of the similarities and differences between them. LA is more clean, beautiful, and open than the Big Apple; New York is dirtier, more charismatic, and claustrophobic than the City of Angels. Everything in LA seems new and radiant against the glow of the sun, while everything in New York is a little grittier, older, and more worn. People in LA are more laid back and they more dress casually. People in New York are more uptight. LA is centered around the entertainment industry; New York, around finance and media. Both cities are populated by workaholics and the young and ambitious. Etcetera.
Here's THR on the character of each city:
Los Angeles: It's New York with palm trees, as they say. Or the opposite: New York is L.A. with subways. And lousy weather. And cigarettes. The comparisons between America's polar-opposite biggest cities have shrunk over the years because of similarities in professions, constant work travel, the Internet and people relocating between the two -- or giving up and going bi (coastal). The old (Big) apples and oranges (citrus country, get it?) adages don't apply much anymore, least of all in the entertainment/media business, where lifestyles are built around work, work and more work. Yes, it's no secret that people in New York exercise, practice yoga, get Botox and have moments of superficiality. And people in L.A. are always on the move and in a bad mood, with their therapists on speed dial. They even get drunk sometimes -- if the calorie count is low enough. Still, there are a few palpable differences between the industry types. (We've noticed New Yorkers are less likely to include cell phone numbers in their e-mail signatures; Angelenos, always in their cars, do so more often.) THR decided they were worth nitpicking about with a handful of insiders who meet, play, eat, drink and exercise away their stress on the Left and Right coasts.
The rest of the piece is not available online, but it goes on to list the thirteen ways that the cities are culturally different. Here's an abbreviated rundown from the mag:
1) Do you hit the gym in the morning?
NY: No, too hungover.
LA: Yes, go everyday (wake up at 5.30am to make it there, no less!).
2) What time do you arrive at the office?
NY: 10 a.m.
LA: 9 a.m.
3) Who eats the breakfast of champions?
NY: First meal is a must.
LA: Sorry, no time. "In LA, everyone's hiking or working out" says TV personality Brad Goreski.
4) What's your drink of choice?
NY: Diet coke.
LA: Water (room temp, no ice cubes) and iced tea.
5) What's the worst area code to call from?
NY: 646 (212 and 917 are ideal; 646 and 718 not so much).
6) What time is dinner?
NY: Never before 8:30 p.m.
LA: 7 p.m. "At 8p.m., I get nervous because I won't make the gym the next morning" says Goreski.
7) Is it OK to keep canceling appointments?
NY: No. You'll make enemies (time is a premium).
LA: Acceptable, though not ideal.
8) What do you wear to work or out at night?
NY: Keep it classy and tailored.
9) It's party time. Where do you go?
NY: Space at the top of the Standard hotel.
LA: Soho house. "Anything gritty and urban in downtown" according to party planner Jeffrey Best.
10) Who is on your ultimate party guest list?
NY: Woody Allen.
11) How many cocktails will you enjoy before heading home?
NY: There is no limit (subway and cab culture helps).
LA: More than one raises eyebrows. "Drunk is not as amusing in LA as in New York," says Best.
12) How many miniburgers and pieces of tuna tartare will you enjoy?
NY: We're food lovers.
LA: Eat? Never after 8 p.m.
13) Is smoking a joint an acceptable party activity?
NY: Too uptight.
LA: It's all good man.
What's most striking to me about this list is that, for the most part, the image of each city is quite different from the reality (the reality as presented by this article, at least). New Yorkers have a reputation of being more intense and uptight. In certain senses, they are, like in how they dress and the no-pot-at-parties rule. But in others, their lifestyle is far looser and laid back than their colleagues on the Pacific coast. New Yorkers show up to work later, drink more booze, eat more decadent foods, and bypass the gym for sex ("If you're trying to get laid," says writer-director Mark Duplass, "You'll pay the price and be too tired to work out"). By contrast, people in LA follow very rigid and controlled schedules that are, in part, that way because they want to maintain an image of effortless glamour and elegance. That's why "casual chic" is their fashion aesthetic.