Although I am a New Yorker now, I am proud of my Los Angeles roots. I was born in Monterey Park, and my first job was as an usher at the Music Center in downtown L.A. I have hiked in Griffith Park, camped out overnight for a seat at the Rose Parade and wolfed down many roast beef sandwiches at Philippe's.
That said, I confess that I read Karen Stabiner's Jan. 25 Times Op-Ed article, "Just one Big Fruit," with a mixture of concern, amusement and pity. Stabiner describes her experiences as an L.A.-to- New York transplant, saying she prefers to see common bonds between the Big Apple and the Big Orange.
Oh Karen -- oh poor, lovesick, naive Karen. It is obvious she is in the early throes of a romance with the capital of the world. Why else would she abandon her "husband and dog and gourmet cookware" for a sixth-floor studio sublet? Yes, quite obviously Stabiner is wading into a relationship. She admits to "trying [New York] on for size." I hate to break it to her, but New York is trying her on for size. And if she isn't careful, she'll get her heart broken.
There is no "eternal argument" about whether New York or L.A. is the better city. This is a myth, like unicorns or light traffic on the Santa Monica Freeway. Only West Coast people seriously entertain this discussion. New Yorkers are proudly myopic. If we admit to any civic rivalry, it is possibly with Washington on Inauguration Day. New Yorkers think of L.A. only on Oscar night or in the aftermath of an earthquake. L.A., New York is just not that into you, and baby, that's how we roll. Sad but true.
Stabiner attempts to calm her inner torment by compiling a list of the relative faults of her two loves. New York has rats, she notes, while L.A. has rush hour. I've been there. I used to remind myself how great the weather was when I visited at Christmas. I used to lean back in my seat at the Hollywood Bowl, gazing up at the summer sky, thinking how magical it all was. But deep down, I was only fooling myself. I knew where I belonged.
Of course, there is a lot to love about Los Angeles. In fact, if you love L.A., it happily loves you back. New York? Not so much. The ultimate narcissist, New York demands cold, hard cash, immense personal sacrifice and every ounce of your creativity and resourcefulness. Only then will it begin to show you a shred of kindness or luck. Maybe.
Stabiner asks, "What if we join forces ... as two outposts of the Big Fruit, rather than an apple and an orange?" At this, I laughed. I asked a few friends, Manhattan residents, if they even knew what the Big Orange was. They guessed either Orange County or Florida. Fact is, New York simply doesn't play well with others. As for the unity Stabiner hopefully suggests, fuggehdaboutit.
There are many definitions of what constitutes a true New Yorker -- having been mugged, say, or attending an opening at Lincoln Center. But chief among them is a willingness to pour all of your love and affection into this wonderful, aggravating, totally selfish city. For even as it continues to see other people (lots of them), New York demands that you be exclusive.
I don't mean to be unkind to Stabiner or others who face a similar dilemma. Really, I feel her pain. But if Stabiner truly cares about L.A. (not to mention her dog, husband and gourmet cookware), she should go home immediately and forget this crazy dream. And don't be hurt if New York doesn't call or write. We're busy.
Raul A. Reyes is an attorney in New York City.