Becoming Angelino

(September 2014)

A transplant's guide to being your douchey best out West.

By Matt Brousseau

On a humid Friday in August 2013, at my Beuna Park, Chicago residence I stacked all my belongings into a rented Ford Focus. Nearly 36 hours later I arrived in Los Angeles sweaty, tired, and malnourished. Those traits started before my trip began, but nonetheless continued throughout. Upon my arrival, and in the spirit of Manifest Destiny, I smoked weed and stared out at the Pacific Ocean’s infinite horizon. A catharsis swept over me along with a mixture of salt, water, small percentages of urine, and perhaps lingering isotopes from Fukashima. (It should be noted that, also in the spirit of Manifest Destiny, I killed as many indigenous species as possible during my westward expansion. (Suck it, Earth).

Since my move I’ve been besieged with complaints about the New England or Chicago weather to which I meekly responded *cough* *cough* 75 and sunny today. Then, inevitably, messages arrived asking when would be a good time to visit me.

I’ve lived in Chicago, spent time in New York City and Boston, and now reside in Los Angeles. Each city has its own unique actions that, when not followed, prove you’re an outsider and can now be subject to visceral scorn from anyone within eye-shot.

For example: In Chicago, when walking past a blind beggar, it’s expected for you to speak in a foreign language. This will to bring some jovialness to your day and further the effects of dementia on said beggar. According to experts, this should force them to seek counseling or the intimacy of a police baton. In Los Angeles, the only appropriate response to a blind beggar is to pretend they don’t exist. It is a subtle, but important difference.

So, if you plan to visit or move to Los Angeles it might help to have a primer on how to act like you belong. I’ve only been here since August, but some very obvious trends have become, well, obvious. Now, these may not be exclusive to Los Angeles, but collectively they are a good representation of what to expect and how to carry yourself.

An Exhausting, but Not Exhaustive List:

- Dress up like a superhero. Sure, you’re overweight and generally a social pariah, but when you have that Spiderman suit on you could be anyone, even Spiderman. Well, maybe not Spiderman, but Asian tourists will enjoy your middle-aged Peter Parker look and you’ve never been able to say that before.

- Ask me for money.

- Tell people you always do that cool thing you did once. In order to “break in” your “professional field” and become a “somebody,” networking is very important. Even more important is delusion and denial. Sure, appearances matter. More important is believing your own bullshit. It’s the easiest way to impress people you’ll never meet again.

- Complain about how hard it is to eat healthy. Then buy street meat. They cook it on shopping carts for a reason: that authentic street meat taste. Wait twelve hours before complaining about your dysentery.

- Ogle, ogle, ogle. Those asses won’t ogle themselves. If you don’t blink you win, hell, we all win.

- In before out. Always. Sure, in backwards Chicago most subway passengers let people out of the car before they themselves enter. Not here. In LA you are required to force your way into the car before anyone can exit. This is non-negotiable. If those idiots wanted to get out at your stop they should have taken a cab.

- Block escalators. I can’t stress this enough. Escalators are not for going up and down stairs faster. They were made so you wouldn’t have to use your fat feet immediately after exiting a subway. And, when traveling with a friend, stand shoulder to shoulder completely oblivious to anyone behind you. Those fifteen seconds will strengthen your friendship more than that “thing” you did together during that slumber party in middle school.

- Drive on Wilshire. Everybody’s doing it! Then complain about the traffic. Also make sure you beep when traffic isn’t moving. Most drivers are under the impression that beeping recharges their Prius. Who are we to tell them otherwise?

- Press the crosswalk button again. Press it again. Again. Keep fucking pressing it. Press it until the light changes to prove that pressing it thirty times works. The engineers of the walk button have never been able to find a workaround for this special trick. You’re a fucking genius.

- Write a shitty blog post about the real Los Angeles.

There you have it. A less than gentleman’s guide to fitting in during your brief, maddening stay in LA. You can thank me once you fight off that dysentery and throw away your Spiderman costume.