A few preliminary observations from LA

1)  I estimate there is approximately one dog per every 2 gay men in West Hollywood.  Which translates to:  this place has a LOT of dogs.  I have never seen so many dogs in my life.  They are mostly adorable.  These guys love their dogs.   And there are consequently a higher than average number of veterinarians’ offices and pet supply stores and dog daycares as well.

2)  Seems like a lot more people smoke here than other places I’ve been to in the USA, especially compared to Washington DC, which is the city I’ve spent by far the most time in outside of Michigan.  NOBODY smokes in DC, it feels like, whereas in LA it’s all around.

3) You read about how supposedly LA is so sprawling and auto-centric, so you’d think that would translate to a low-density city.  Not at all the case.  To take southeast Michigan as a comparison, virtually every neighborhood we’ve traveled through in LA, even in the Valley, is at least as dense or denser as the densest neighborhoods in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Hamtramck, or Birmingham.  People don’t have front lawns here, they hardly have yards at all; businesses and homes are just crammed atop one another, and people in turn crammed into those buildings; the streets are crammed with cars and the sidewalks with people, many of them children, which you see very few of in Michigan cities.

So I think LA’s reputation for sprawl and auto-dependency is more due to ingrained habits of mind;  cross-town movement continues to follow the patterns set back in the first half of the 20th century, when the city was indeed much less dense than any other of its size in the US.  And even that is definitely changing, slowly:  I’ve heard from multiple people that the key to preserve your sanity is just to live and socialize as close to where you work as possible.

4)  Finally, people have just been really nice to us the whole time we’ve been here.  When we boarded the bus and found we didn’t have enough coins for fare since they didn’t take bills, the bus driver told us not to worry about it;  the cashiers have been friendly and genial;  servers have been incredibly responsive and gracious; the cashier at Scoops charged us for only 1 ice cream when we ordered 2.  Maybe it’s just people being happy with the weather being unseasonably warm, but I expected a certain level of attitude and hauteur and have been pleasantly surprised.

You can see photos from the trip thus far here, with more to come of course.

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