Yesterday marked the first Fourth of July since moving to the states that I didn’t have to work. (I’ve just realized that I’ve spent the past three years of my life — pretty much the entire time I’ve lived in the USA — in near-constant crunch).
My Fourth of July was glorious — I woke up late, called my Mom, sat around and did nothing for a while, played Tomb Raider, walked to the beach. We then had sushi with REAL AMERICANS a.k.a. our friends Michael, Kathy, and their significant others. It was a very authentic way to celebrate.
As it so happens, my country commemorated the day of its independence this week as well, as Canada Day is July 1st. I didn’t get a chance to celebrate since I had to work that day, but I did take the time to read an article in Maclean’s, describing the 99 reasons why it’s apparently better to be Canadian. I was incredibly disgusted to read what was essentially an America-bashing fest, and coming from Maclean’s, a supposedly reputable news magazine, I was doubly disappointed. And I thought we were supposed to be the polite ones.
Well, don’t expect any nasty spitefulness from this Canadian, at least. Instead, in honour of this American holiday, I present to you my tribute to my favourite American city — Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is home to an amazing mix of people from not just all over the USA, but all over the world. In fact, everyone seems to be from somewhere else — Mexico, Morocco, Indonesia, you name it. The city’s multiculturalism means that there are at least 224 different languages spoken in LA County, and various cultural festivals such as the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture and the Queen Mary ScotsFest.
More importantly, LA’s cultural diversity also means —
Amazing Ethnic Food
In LA, you can have tsukemen for lunch, followed by authentic tamales for dinner, and make a pit-stop at the Brazilian market for some Guarana and catupiry sometime in between. The sheer variety of ethnic shops, restaurants, and markets in LA is mind-blowing. And the best part is, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg for great food, what with the abundance of food trucks in the city. You can get great tikka masala or even sisig for under $10 each, and if you’re Downtown and happen across the taco truck near the Regal Theaters, you can get really delicious carnitas tacos for just a buck a pop.
Anyone who knows me at all will not be surprised to find two food-related entries on this list. LA is home to a lot of health-conscious folks, so it’s no surprise that the vegetarian fare in this city is very tasty. The first time I tried vegan raw food was at a restaurant in Santa Monica, and despite being pretty carnivorous, I loved it. I don’t think I could ever be a full-time vegetarian, but I do find myself craving vegan food from time to time. Especially on the westside, you’ll find a wide variety of veggie-friendly food, including several vegan raw restaurants, as well as vegetarian places that even your non-vegetarian friends will love.
I know Los Angelenos get a bad rap sometimes, but I’ve found most of the people I’ve encountered in this city to be quite friendly. Perhaps it’s because of the cultural diversity, or maybe it’s because of the perpetual sunny weather, but I find the people in Los Angeles to be generally really nice. People greet me good morning every day on my walk to work. I can strike up a conversation with any random person on the street, in the supermarket, wherever, and will be met with a smile and a response. It is really easy to meet people in the city. I’ve met several good friends in bars, and other random encounters.
There’s always something to do
The city is packed with things to do — you can spend a day at the beach, or go for a hike, and then lounge about at any of the numerous bars, restaurants, and clubs in a vast number of neighbourhoods. There’s always a concert or show to check out, and various museums and galleries to visit. If you ever find yourself bored in the city, you drive a couple hours to Big Bear and go snowboarding, or drive a few hours east spend a weekend in the desert. Drive north and sip wines in Santa Ynez Valley. This barely scratches the surface — there are endless things to do in Southern California.
The game industry
If you work in the game industry, California is the place to be. There’s a reason why huge industry events like GDC and E3 take place in California — the state is home to so many great game developers. Just within Santa Monica alone, you’ve got Naughty Dog, Riot Games, Sony Santa Monica, and thatgamecompany all located on more or less the same city block.
Sunny skies, warm temperatures — the weather is perfect all year round. There’s no risk of SAD in this city — in fact, some people here have never even heard of it!
Los Angeles has been the place I’ve called home for the past couple years, and although it’s far from perfect, it’s clear to see that I’ve really had an amazing time in this country.
I’ll definitely miss it.