I think the problem when people try to compare New York with Los Angeles is that people tend to compare them as though they were the same *kind* of thing: cities, or metropolises, or something. But they’re just not the same kind of thing, they’re not really directly comparable. New York is a city of neighborhoods, Los Angeles is more like a country of regions. One radio station here likes to say that it is based in “Pasadena, Los Angeles” — I remember listening to one DJ saying about that tag line, “I keep saying it because it keeps being true.” Los Angeles isn’t better or worse than New York, it’s not really possible to compare the two places, because they’re not comparable. It’s like trying to compare and contrast Paris with England.
Los Angeles is diffuse, bright, relaxed, open, s p r e a d o u t, fanciful, less intense and less energized but also less neurotic and less entrenched. It’s possible to hide in the expanse of LA in a way that isn’t possible in the dense canyons of New York. The best anything always becomes visible quickly throughout New York — the best things in LA might just be known only to a smattering of people who happen to live nearby: LA is an expanse of neighboring small towns juxtaposed with each other, knit together by the freeways which promise endless discovery. No matter how long you’ve lived here, even if you grew up here, you always feel there is something you haven’t yet discovered that may be only a few minutes away by car. Los Angeles feels like an endless, infinite grid, a slice of an infinite universe in both time and space. The edge of the city feels like an abstraction, to come to an edge, except when it is up against the ocean (another infinity) or a mountain, is a shock, an impossibility.