LISTS OF STUFF: Some Random Things I Love About New York and Los AngelesAnnie Stamell

For some reason, there’s this mad desire to pit the cities of Los Angeles and New York against each other. People love comparing and contrasting these two meccas. Regular complaints include things like “you have to drive everywhere in Los Angeles” or “New York City has terrible winters!” or some other argument that’s really just a matter of opinion (for example — I love driving everywhere in LA and I really, really love the cold winters of NYC). New Yorkers and Angelenos especially enjoy offering their opinions on their rival city, but I wonder how many of them have actually been to the other place, or spent any real sort of time there.

You see, anyone who’s ever spent a lot of time in LA knows that the driving isn’t that bad, not everyone is tan and blonde and not everyone wakes up at 7am on Saturday mornings to run and surf and eat an egg-white kale omelet. And anyone who’s ever visited New York for an extended period of time knows that the city is a magical and beautiful winter wonderland when it snows, that most native New Yorkers are really just the nicest and are more than happy to give out directions, and that people don’t just wear black and smoke cigarettes all the time. Both cities are huge places filled with so many amazing different people and places!

I’m lucky enough to call Los Angeles my current home, and New York my home-away-from-home. And while I could easily join everyone else hating on one city or another, and put together all the reasons I prefer living in LA over NYC, I’d much rather make a list of some of the random different things I love about New York and Los Angeles, because they’re both pretty great, and it’s their unique differences that make them even greater!

1. Going to a Sephora in New York between the hours of five and 7pm. Okay, I realize that Sephora isn’t just an NYC thing and you could find one of these make-up superstores all over the country, but in New York they seem almost as common as a Starbucks or bodega or a Duane Reade. This means that when you go into any random Sephora between the hours of 5 and 7pm you get to witness (or participate in) an amazing event: A Giant Powder Room with Free Make-Up. It’s awesome. Let’s say you are going from your work to drinks across town, and as you’re making your way you come across a Sephora. Go in!  Inside a Sephora at that time are countless other girls who are refreshing their make-up, perfume and hair products and they can experiment with just about anything they want in the store and no one has to buy anything if they don’t want to!  Sometimes people end up buying something they’ve tried on, which is also awesome, because who doesn’t love an impromptu shopping trip? Personally, I like to build in a little extra time to go into a Sephora before I go anywhere in New York. It really is like a giant powder room and everyone is just doing their make-up and making themselves look and feel great before their dinner, job, drinks, meeting, whatever.

2. Crying in your car in Los Angeles. This is the best ever. Really. I know you’re all confused how I’ve jumped from a delightful item on make-up to crying in a car, but trust me, it is truly great that in Los Angeles you can do that. You almost live in your car. Your car becomes almost like another home and because it goes everywhere you go, that means you always have a safe place nearby. This safe place is excellent for times you may have packed an extra sweater, or your running shoes, or for when you need a really good cry and no one will bother you.

3. Bars close at 2am in Los Angeles. This makes me so happy, you guys. I’m convinced that because bars close “early” (compared to New York’s 4am cutoff), the entire course of your day is shifted earlier. And that is the best ever, because then you are usually up early, and it’s a beautiful day outside, and you have the entire day to do so many things, and you do those things at earlier hours and very few people eat dinner after nine pm. And because you have a limited time to get to the bars before the close, if you want to even go out to dinner at all you have to do that earlier, and really all this all really means is that you almost always can go to bed reasonably early and still have had a very big night out, and that is just a relief.

4. You never have to worry about drinking and driving in New York. I’ve been in New York City for the past two weeks and I have consumed substantially more alcohol than I do in LA. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but I do know that the reason for that is because here in New York I never have to drive, which means I never have to worry about drinking too much and either being unable to get anywhere, or being dumb enough to drive when I shouldn’t. That isn’t even on my radar in New York and it’s just lovely not having to worry about it. Nights out seem longer and stress-free and unlimited. I mean obviously you still have to drink responsibly wherever you are, but in a city where driving isn’t the norm, the whole “operating under the influence” is much less of an issue. And that’s a good thing. Good job on the public transportation, NYC.

5. The boardwalk on Venice Beach before 10am, on a weekday. I imagine some of my fellow Angelenos would include this on a list of things they hate about LA, but I have to say I love it. There’s something incredibly fascinating to me about walking along the boardwalk of LA’s infamous Venice Beach before the action really gets going — when you see the locals on their morning coffee runs, and store-owners setting up shop, everyone running, bike-riding, power-walking or rollerblading. You see that the character of this crazy spot exists without all the tourists and street performers that will come later and that some of the same people have been camping out here since the seventies, probably, and that while parts of it are all old and decrepit, so much of it is beautiful and strange and bizarre in the most perfect way. One of my favorite things to do on weekday mornings is go for a long walk along the Venice Beach Boardwalk. It never gets old.

6. New York Bagels and New York Pizza. Now, I’ve found adequate bagels and pizza in LA, but holy smokes the bagels and pizza produced in New York City are unparalleled. Especially the bagels. Just thinking about a perfect New York bagel from a perfect New York deli makes my mouth water. And pizza. Oh god, the pizza. It seems as though every other pizza place is amazing and delicious and delivers and it tastes so good. So good.

7. Sneaking into a double feature at one of the movie theaters in Union Square. I love doing this. First of all, there are a lot of movie theater options in Union Square, so it’s a great place to be if you’re in the mood for a double feature, which is one of my favorite things to do in New York. The weather in New York is never all that great enough that I feel guilty for not being outside (and half the time it’s the perfect refuge from the heat or a terrible rainstorm), and I love going over to one of the big theaters in Union Square playing what feels like a million different movies with a million different choices of showtimes and I get myself a popcorn and a great seat and whenever the first movie is done I just check out what else is about to start and go see another movie — and boom, it’s a double feature and even better it was two for the price of one! Okay, sneaking into the second movie is probably not a good thing and I know I should be teaching you guys important lessons about honesty and come on, I work in the film industry, I’m not even helping my own people! But the Double Feature Sneak is one of my favorite indulgences. I love doing this on a random Tuesday afternoon. It’s so easy to be spontaneous about movies in NYC.

8. Living by the beach. This is one of my favorite things about LA. I just… I love it. So much. And fine, I have it especially good because I am literally four blocks from the beach, but just being able to live in Venice, or Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach is something that makes me happier than a clam. And I don’t even know if clams are happy, but they live near the beach too so I’d imagine they are. I love the beach, and living near the beach and the beaches of Los Angeles so much that I don’t understand how people could live in Los Angeles and not live near the beach. I mean, I’d live in the ocean if I could.

There are a lot more random things I love about each city. This could be a very long list, but I’ll spare you. Instead, the next time you overhear someone trash-talking the other city, whether it’s a New Yorker claiming that people in Los Angeles aren’t very smart, or an Angeleno distressing over the insane cost of living in NYC, just remind them that there are so many amazing things about each city and if they ask “like what” you can tell them about going to a Sephora in New York during happy hour or walking along the Venice Boardwalk in LA on a weekday morning.

Photo via ShutterStock

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  1. you hit it on the nose! i’m from NY but live in LA – totally agree with all of the above. Including the fact that I like being in my car and therefore traffic isn’t always a bad thing!! :)

  2. You cannot beat NYC bagels! I’d like to add falafels too because when I’m not in NYC these are the first things I miss. Yes, you can get these things outside NYC but prepare to be disappointed!

    • Bagels outside of NY- except for Canter’s Deli in LA- are always sick and cakelike and bready and non-chewy and weird in wrong, IMHO, especially in Phoenix, which has a preponderance of bagel shops, for some odd reason- a plague, really. They are so bad, so cake-like and light, that I began to experience a murderous rage and feared for the safety of the town.

      That is all.

  3. The Sephora thing is so true! I can’t wait to spend more time in LA.

  4. I’m really looking forward to the possibility of crying in my car. There never seems to be a good place to do this. People always want to know what’s wrong.