Travel diary: What one writer learned in LaLa land

By Michael Kinney

LOS ANGELES- I had been to Los Angeles a number of times in my life, I did very little sight-seeing and touring.

I made sure that was not going to be the case when I went to LA to cover the Rose Bowl and the Oklahoma City Thunder versus the Los Angels Lakers. For six days and five nights, I made sure that I got to see and learn as much about the second most populous city in America as I could.

What I found was strange, sometimes startling and surprising.

Below are a few of the things I picked up in my time in the City of Angels.

1. Change is coming: The last time I was in Los Angeles was during the NBA playoffs when I covered the Thunder beating the L.A. Clippers. At that time, Uber wasn’t around, so I spent my time in a rent-a-car.

This time around, I was all over my Uber app everywhere I went. That gave me plenty of time to converse with several of the drivers. And they all sang the same tune that Los Angeles was changing.

Like almost every major city in the country, gentrification is hitting the city hard. No longer can blue collar, working residents afford to live in L.A. They are being pushed out farther and farther from not just downtown, but also the nice suburbs that surround the city.

According to a friend who works at Yahoo, L.A. is on its way to becoming San Francisco, which has the highest cost of living in the country. That is going to leave very little room for the average Joe.

2. Sacrificing everything for the view: As I mentioned, the cost of living (COL) in L.A. is staggering. According to, Los Angeles has the 12th highest COL in America and 29th in the world. (Oklahoma City is No. 70 in the US. Tulsa is 61st)).

Almost everyone I met complained about this. From paying $4.50 for a dozen eggs to paying $3,500 a month for a 900-square foot apartment, it was maddening to them.

However, the one thing they weren’t considering doing was moving. The view and the weather seem to override any sort of anger they had for having to empty their bank accounts every month to just pay their bills.

While this is something I can’t cosign on, I have to admit, I became addicted to the 75-degree weather and amazing sunrises every morning. From Pasadena to Malibu, there isn’t a bad view in the county.

Even deep in the sketchiest part of the city like Wilshire Blvd, it still provides an amazing view to kick-start your day.

So people are willing to work two jobs, sometimes three, to stay there. After seeing the sunrise on top of Griffith Park, I can’t argue too much about it.

3. Segregation is still a thing: Communities are separated among racial and ethnic lines throughout Los Angeles. And no one seems to know how to change it.

4. Organized Sports is not king: I was flabbergasted with how many times I had to explain what the Rose Bowl was and why it was important. And that was to people who grew up in California.

But when you live in a state with so many things to do other than sit in front of a TV, I guess that can be somewhat expected.

5. Traffic is part of the game: As I was told by a 15 year resident of Los Angeles, you get used to sitting in traffic for an hour to go five miles.

6. Food diversity is not a problem: Unlike many other parts of the country I have visited, California is not known for one specific kind of food. While Mexican food may be predominant, it’s not the state food.

Because so many diverse populations inhabit the LA area, that means diverse food to choose from. Instead of explaining why certain foods are better than others, I am just going to list a few spots you must visit if you spend time in Los Angeles.

A. Duke’s Seafood on Malibu beach- Amazing deserts, amazing view.

B Cafe Buna bear Venice Beach: They put white chocolate drops on their pancakes

C. Paradise Cove: Excellent seafood served on the beach. That is living.

D. Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle: A legend in Los Angeles. Others may now do it better, but Roscoe’s is the original and it’s a spot that all visitors need to try out.

E. Bier Garten: It mixes Korean and German food into one delicious fusion.

7. It’s not your grandparent’s Hollywood: I spent New Year’s Eve on Hollywood Blvd checking out different parties and what not. What struck me the most about the iconic locale is just how dirty it was.

In the movies, Hollywood is made to look like a place where all your dreams can come true. Where a small town girl from Kansas can get off the bus and get discovered. It’s nothing like that.

In fact, it has a very depressing look and feel.

However, in saying all that, it was still a kick checking out who had a star on the walk of fame. Ruchard Pryor, John Wayne, Mickey Rooney and Louis Armstrong were some of my highlights.

Yet, there were several people who had no business getting a star and next to some of the biggest legends in entertainment.That includes half the cast of Saturday Night Live.

Overall, L.A. is a wondrous and amazing city with thousands of ways to entertain yourself. It’s an excellent place to visit, but no longer made for everyone to live.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer for

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