Friday, May 27, 2011

The Militant's Response to 'Some Guidelines On How To Be A True Angeleno'

As if in a flash, the Militant's Facebooks and Twitters blew up with people forwarding the link to Los Angeles Times columnist Hector Tobar's entry today, entitled, "Some guidelines on how to be a true Angeleno."

First off, this blog post is not about hateration. In fact, Tobar (pictured left) is one of The Militant's favorite Times columnists. And The Militant pretty much agrees with what Tobar is saying in the column. Although, The Militant may or may not be tickled that the mainstream media is finally talking about the things that yours truly has been writing about for years. But hey, even though the Hector Tobar isn't the Militant Angeleno, he certainly is the closest thing to it down there at Times Mirror Square.

This post is not so much a rebuttal to Tobar's column, but more of an addendum to the conversation. And damnit, this kind of subject matter is The Militant's virtual gang turf. So he's gotta represent!

So let's do this:

1. Don't fawn over celebrities.
True dat. The Militant never learned it in school (they don't really teach you anything that pertains to the real world at the LAUSD), but somehow he's instinctively learned not to be starstruck. First of all, it's sort of understood that one needs to respect celebs' privacy. The other matter is, when The Militant actually sees celebs on the street or at the supermarket, he isn't quite sure it's them. You'd feel like a total ass and a half if what you thought was a celebrity turned out to be Just Someone Who Happens To Look Like Them...or worse - an actual wannabe who is hoping you'd fall into their trap.

There is one exception, and that is celebrities who you truly, totally, admire. The Militant met an unspecified celebrity randomly once while shopping at an unspecified store. He was shaking in his boots. But he got his composure together and, in a casual manner, approached the unspecified star during an opportune moment after the salesperson left that unspecified celeb alone. But there were no autograph or photograph (well, this was the days before everyone had digital cameras and smartphones) requests. The Militant just wanted to have a brief conversation with the unnamed famous person, shake their hand and tell them how influential that person has been to him. Done and done and done, and it was one of The Militant's greatest experiences.

2. Use your turn signals.
Word. You paid for your car, right? So get your freaking money's worth. Use the turn signals.

3. Barbecue, garden, enjoy the outdoors
Definitely. Barbecue? Check. Garden? That's not The Militant's thing, but one of The Militant's operatives keeps preaching the gospel of California native plants. The Militant is gradually learning about them (if only for the historical perspective), so he may or may not cover this subject later. But this Militant Angeleno will not drive 20 miles just to go for a walk. He can walk, bike or Metro there. It's part of the adventure. You can, however drive just an hour away and be in the mountains, or on a farm. Because we can do that here.

4. Be cool with ethnic diversity.
Be cool? This is part of the Militant's freaking life! He lives ethnic diversity. If diversity is some foreign concept you have to learn how to merely "be cool" with, The Militant does not want to waste his time on your podunk n00b Why-Is-There-No-Cheese-In-My-Taco ass. Next!

(Although people do ask the Militant in person, "What are you?" He chooses to have lots of fun with that...)

5. Know your shortcuts.
If you use your GPS for anything other than locating a house on an obscure sidestreet or finding the nearest applicable ATM, you need to be slapped. The Militant has the Thomas Guide memorized. BOTH VERSIONS.

6. Appreciate Vin Scully.
The bigger Militant issue is more like, how can one actually appreciate a Dodger game when it's not called by Vinny? And, when the time comes where Scully retires or meets The Great Dodger In The Sky (later than sooner! later than sooner!)...Will AI technology be advanced enough to replicate the legendary announcer's voice, diction, prose and idiosyncracies?

7. Acknowledge and respect local traditions.
Yeah. And this includes spelling Silver Lake as two words, and knowing that "The Eastside" is east of the Los Angeles River, damnit.

8. Don't ever say: "L.A. doesn't have any seasons."
Because, as you might have been noticing lately, we can go through all four seasons in the span of a week or two.

9. Don't wear your civic pride on your sleeve.
Okay, this is the only one where The Militant vehemently disagrees on. The Militant will dissect Tobar's explanation:

Your typical Boston or Seattle resident can get pretty snippety about how great his city is. A real Angeleno, however, is too world-wise to claim his city is perfect.

Yes, we all know about the snippety transplant. But does civic pride always have to mean one's city is perfect? Of course not, and shame on you Tobar for assuming that. Of course a transplant, as proud as they are, wearing their stupid little Yankees cap around this town may not admit openly that their hometown is perfect, but the fact that they live here is an unspoken admission of its imperfectness. After all, if it were perfect, they would still be living there.

But what is wrong with having civic pride? The Militant has long believed this is something we need to change. Don't let yourself be drowned out by the civic pride of the transplanted on YOUR TURF. That is an insult to you. Stand up! REPRESENT!

We know ours is a flawed paradise. We recognize and complain about its faults, but we still wouldn't live anywhere else.

Is any place free from flaws, really? Even the most Liveable Cities According To Forbes Or The Economist Or Mercer's has their own problems and issues. But you don't know about them because you don't live there.

But recognizing and complaining and complaining about faults shouldn't just be the end of the game. You can get involved, you can do something about it. The Militant is, why aren't you?

10. Define it your own way.
Yeah, it's called BOO-YA!

Guess there are Angelenos, and True Angelenos. But then there are Militant Angelenos.


Andrew T said...

I actually agree w/ Tobar on 9. Don't wear your civic pride on your sleeve, but for different reasons. San Franciscans feel the need to tell everyone how great SF is. They seem to need to shout it from the rooftops and bring it up randomly throughout conversations. I think it's a mix of an inferiority complex and a way for people to let you know that they're different.

And if I have to hear another Boston transplant tell me how great the Sox are... well, I wouldn't lose it, because then I would have lost it decades ago.

I like to think that most true Angelenos know that our city is great and don't feel the need to say it. We just know and that's fine with us.

Militant Angeleno said...

Andrew T: Thanks for your comment. True, as the largest metropolis in the Western United States and the 2nd largest in the country overall, there's no need to be annoying about our civic pride like the denizens of insignificant ultraprovincial elitist burgs like SF or Boston.

But to assume that all Angelenos are automatically proud is actually incorrect. Though we don't usually leave the region, many of us do leave the city. Because there is no ownership, no pride, it is subject to abuse and decay.

You might be new to the Militant Angeleno's blog, but it's true that we in Los Angeles have been brainwashed by the East-Coast-Based media powers (that includes the movie studios, even though they operate here, are run and controlled largely by East Coast interests and marketing firms) that constantly tells us how we are inferior. Because of that, there is a sense of shame in being proud. That has got to change, my friend.

Valleypinoy said...

@Andrew T...well said. it's why i will never live in SF after living there for 2 years. ugh...SF's inferiority complex so freakin' annoying!

Valleypinoy said...

*i mean live there again.

cindylu said...

I'm with you on the celebrities thing. A friend noticed an actress on a flight recently and just told her, "I love your work" as we walked to our seats. I've come across a celebrity randomly once or twice before. Only once have I geeked out, and that was with my favorite band in the world. It's hard trying to express what a song means to you to the person who wrote it in Spanish. My pochaness (not so great bilingualism) really shone through that night.

I took #9 differently and see it more like Andrew T. It's more about being laidback and fitting in to that stereotype of the Angeleno, and in a broader sense Californian.

I'm pretty chill about my LA-love and am more willing to defend the city and region than proclaim it's wonders. I don't want more people moving here (unless it's my NYer boyfriend), I just want to set the record straight.

Valley Dude said...

I agree with the Militant on #9. I was born & raised in the SFV (Studio City). My whole life I took no pride in my city; I do a lot of business travel in the U.S. and felt like other cities were "real" cities. Then I and my young family moved back to the Valley from the Westside 2.5 yrs ago and it hit me how much I loved it here. I woke up to see L.A. is a rich, culturally and geographically diverse city, with amazing, simple things to offer. My new pride in my city made me get out of the car and onto a sidewalk, train, a gathering area. It's changed my view on life and how I see my community. Viva Los Angeles!

angel said...

Italian and a New Yorker to boot, but 32 years in LA and I would never live anywhere else. What amazes me is that we have finally gotten to the point where you can get almost anything (food wise) here. We are a melting pot and I am so proud to be one of them. Go LA!