8 observations for 8 days in LA

“Bus” is a bad word
The bus in LA is incredibly affordable. If you are fortunate to be near a major bus route (which I am) then the $1.25 USD price tag is very reasonable when you consider that this mode of transit covers a serious stretch of space. In Toronto where the Buses/Streetcars/Train is the same price ($3CAD) whether you are going 16 stops or 2 – I appreciate this.

meh.ro7521

And yet, everybody seems to hate on the bus. The ones I have taken have not been dirty or (too) full of crazy people. As someone who has primarily lived in 3 major cities with awesome Public Transit, I’m kind of stubborn when it comes to a city that deliberately spreads itself out and doesn’t provide an easy, cheap way to get around.

It’s like you WANT me to have to drive man, and I now I have to do the opposite.

Streets to not walk down
LA is somewhere that has places you can walk, but you definitely need to drive to those places. Like the Griffith Observatory, or cute neighbourhoods. But if you are a clueless visitor like me, you might be under the impression that you can just walk where ever, from point A to point B.

Turns out, LA is a city where a nice street you are walking on, can turn into a scary street just by turning a corner or walking the wrong direction. And its not like you can google: “way home that will be murder and rape free” or “dangerous streets of LA” (Oh shit you totally can for neighbourhoods…maybe that could be an app? Like Google maps but for women just walking minding their clueless bizness?)

Neighbourhood City
Where you live in LA can say a lot of things about you…how rich you are, how cool you are, how artistic you are, if you have a family…and people can tell this simply by the way you answer the question: “So which part of LA are you in?” (By the way my answer tells people that I definitely found my place on craigslist and had no idea about this neighbourhood elitism)

Can I get that Vegan, Gluten-free, Skinny, Non-soy, Organic, Homogenous, Air-Free, Non GMO, and can you tap-it-gently-three-times-with-your-two-index-fingers and whisper “Nancy Noooo!” into the cup before you it?
Do you have a food thing? Like, you can only eat plants that come from a field planted on the west side of a mountain? Good news, LA will cater to you – no matter how ridiculous your request (you weirdo).

hipster-meme

The traffic is the new weather
In other major cities, the weather is a nice safe topic to chat about with strangers. Hong Kong and Sydney:  “So hot today” or “Crazy rain!”, Toronto: snow (lack there of, the crazy amount, the consistency, texture) but here in LA where the temperature remains fairly consistent (not a great conversation starter…”still perfect out there!” “yep”) the Los Angeleans talk about how busy the roads are/were and how crazy traffic is.

We get it, its bad.

And to that I say, “yeah well… maybe if more people took the bus…”

You can survive without a car
The rise of ride sharing companies Uber and Lyft make it super easy to not have a car here, so long as you have a phone with the internet and the app, and a credit card. Parking is a bitch anyway (it takes five minutes to understand the signs themselves) and although I can drive (in theory: passed my test, haven’t driven since) I honestly think having less cars on the roads will also ease traffic issues (also I am terrified of the aggressive driving, but also the noble thing). Plus with Uber Pool and Lyft Line, (carpooling) its very very economical so you can save your dollars for Gluten and Fun free beer (barf).

Everybody wants to tell you their story
Ride sharing these past 8 days have introduced me to people I would never have a ten minute conversation with. And everybody out here seems to have an interesting story. Maybe its because it is a city built on overnight fortunes and aspirational living, but no one has yet said “oh i do this one thing and i’m pretty comfortable” nope. Everyone gives you their headline “I am a song writer but I want to get into modelling” “I work at a country club but I want to get a union job at Frito-Lay” “I work for a startup that is manufacturing Hemp pain relief for Dogs and Horses” (seriously…seriously)

And Last but not least:

The Homeless Situation
I hate to get all serious at the end of this frivolous blog but with the good, sometimes you get the bad, and here it goes…

I’ve travelled all over the world and I have never seen a worse homeless situation than I have in Los Angeles. I had heard of “Skid Row” or “Tent City” but I was not mentally prepared for the reality – which is, there is a population of people living on the streets of one of America’s largest Cities, with views of the millionaires living up in the “hills”. According to this article, the population of the homeless has grown by 12%… Forty Four thousand homeless people living in the city. That figure is gobsmacking, and when I have asked people living here (immigrants and born&breaders) what the ACTUAL fuck is going on, there has been a general shrugging of shoulders, or a gentle shaking of the head and light tsk-ing. Apparently it is well known that psychiatric hospitals discharge patients with one-way bus tickets to LA/California AND there are red tape laws that prevent young homeless people from staying in shelters that house adults.

It is all kinds of fucked up that I’ve seen gold bentley’s cruising down the streets and walked past homes that look like they are bigger than every house I’ve ever lived in put together ever (aka OBSCENE wealth), and then walked past people with wheelie bags and trolleys living under a tarp on a street corner.

Maybe, maybe I could ignore it if I was in any other foreign country. But I can’t because this is America. This is the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. This is (traditionally) the country that everybody looks at, to get a piece of that “American dream”.

And the reality is stark. It is in your face aggressively there. And it isn’t easy for me to understand how anyone can get to the point in their mind where this is normal.

There are so many wonderful things about LA, and I am having such a great time in California, but the Homeless situation is something that you may never know about unless you come here and see it with your own eyes. It is very, very distressing, I don’t know how it can be addressed or fixed in a country that seems to be so angrily against the “socialist ideas” of somewhere like: Canada or Australia say.

Being new to a place gives you a unique perspective – things that become every day, or things that you don’t notice after a while are still very obvious, and funny or sad to me.

LA is like no where I have ever been before – it is a city of 18.5 MILLION PEOPLE, 270,000 Millionaires and 44,000 homeless people.

So far, I’m not too sure what to think – it seems like the kind of place you might fall in love with passionately, or hate with a vengeance.

Time will tell.

 

We need to talk about guns: Why I stopped watching the news

Yesterday a reporter was shot. Live on Camera.

The studio host reacting to live events: aka her colleague getting shot live on air

The studio host reacting to live events: aka her colleague getting shot live on air

The internet was exploding with screen grabs, articles, posts from people, THE VIDEO. The video of the asshole who shot that Reporter Alison Parker and her Cameraman, Adam Ward.
And then! before he was caught, the shooter posted the Video of him attacking those poor people from his go-pro on Twitter….

What do you say? What is there to say when someone is shot and murdered, live on Television? Or in a mass school shooting? Or in a bank for money, or because of drugs… or what EVER?! What do you say when there are these pain inflicting, life ending objects called guns and people use them to kill/intimidate/make a point/grab a moment of media attention out in the world, and every day there seems to be another report of such and such violence and fear and death?

At the end of last year, like most Australians abroad and at home, I was glued to the Television and Radio because an insane person took hostages at a Cafe in Sydney, my former home town. I was shocked and horrified, as we all were as a nation… only to discover that my (pregnant) cousin Julie was one of those 18 hostages.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 15:  People run with there hands up from the Lindt Cafe, Martin Place during a hostage standoff on December 15, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.  Police stormed the Sydney cafe as a gunman has been holding hostages.  (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 15: Julie Taylor runs  from the Lindt Cafe, Martin Place during a hostage standoff on December 15, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Police stormed the Sydney cafe as a gunman has been holding hostages. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)

I cannot describe how your feeling of fear and sadness and general “that is horrible”- ness, suddenly slides into panic. The TV, the news, it becomes your only lifeline to unfolding events as you try to understand:

Why is this happening?

Why is it that every time I read the news there is always, somewhere, someone, who bought a gun and used it on somebody else.

And why are we surprised?

I’m not pointing the finger at America, but it does seem to be the country who advocates the most for their right to own a gun, to have a gun in their car or out in public.

And every time someone is murdered, in a church or school or on live TV, those NRA fuckers put out some fantastical one liner like: “Gun’s don’t kill people, people kill people.” Or they use a mass shooting as an example like: “well see now… if we had more guns, none of this would have happened.”

LIGHTBULB: Lets all get guns to protect ourselves against those people who already have guns. And then maybe we should think about getting mini-guns for our guns, because what if those other peoples guns try to attack our guns. HOW ARE OUR GUNS GOING TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM OTHER GUNS?! Are you a Patriot?! DON’T YOU WANT TO BE SAFE?!

It’s gotten to the point where I just can’t watch the news anymore. I’ll read the headline, I’ll be informed. But I can’t watch another reporter talk to local eye witnesses, or muse on why this has happened. I can’t hear that everybody in the community is devastated and asking themselves… why, WHY?

We know the reason. Every time it’s the same.

Guns.

I don’t care about why the shooter did it.

So many statements, so many people feeling heard at the end of a Gun.

I care about the people, and the families torn apart (like Katrina Dawson, my cousins friend and former bridesmaid who died on the scene in that cafe in Sydney and left behind 3 small children), the communities who are still rocked, the people who now live in fear.

How did the reporters feel yesterday, reporting on the reporter who was shot?

I can’t bear to watch the segments, the speculation, the talking heads. I just can’t.

As a former reporter my goosebumps rose, as a fellow human being, my heart hurt.

It feels like a waiting game, where will the next psycho with a gun go off?

And what are we going to do about it?

America made Gay Marriage legal and Australia didn’t

love-is-love

I’m not American, but I grew up on American TV, Cereal and Pop Culture. At age 11 my dream was to marry Aaron Carter, join Destiny’s child and have a cool american flag strappy top with a choker necklace.

 

Pretty much my amazing fashion style age 11-14

Pretty much my amazing fashion style age 11-14)

America was the place to be according to MTV back in the 90’s. I wanted to be a cool chick like the girls in ‘She’s all that’ (I was very much not all that in middle school) with a yellow roofless jeep and I wanted to say things like “hey girl!” and “get in bitches we’re going shopping” (I remember the first time my mother overheard me call a friend a “bitch” like “hey Bitch” – that shit did not go down well.)

As I got older and moved around the world, I realized that America was pretty cool, but there were a lot of other pretty sweet places to live. Hong Kong was an amazing city, and it was there that I really came into contact with a lot of American families (oh my god… they’re just like us!) and University in Australia was schweeeeeet (that vegemite, Passion Pop and Goon though). As an Adult I moved to Canada (so close to my 14 year old dreams) and actually went to America. It was pretty cool and there were parts that I loved but…

America also scared me.

There were guys in LA standing on the side of the streets with big aggressive signs that said things like: “God hates Fags!” and “Enjoy your Sodomy in Hell”.

This was pretty jarring as my previous world experience came from cities like Sydney (which has a healthy gay community), Hong Kong where drag queens were out and about in clubs, and Canada where gay marriage has been legal for ten years and the pride festival shuts down the city.

America was like the alcoholic, gun-toting, racist/homophobic uncle that you liked to see now and again but wouldn’t let around your children.

And then yesterday happened.

America passed Gay marriage, country wide. Love won out, and while the glitter settled and the world rejoiced, something stuck sorely in my mind.

Gay Marriage is still not legal in Hong Kong or Australia.

Two of the countries I would consider to be home do not allow awesome people like my brothers and my aunt (with 3 gorgeous kids) to get married to the people they love. Two of the places that felt like wonderful, gay-friendly countries, (compared to “scary America”) actually afford less legal rights and equality to people like this:

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 8.11.28 AM

And that really sucks. Australia paints itself as a liberal country, have-a-go, fair-dinkum. We call ourselves “the lucky country” and boy have there been times where I’ve felt lucky to be Australian. Visa’s to most country are easy as fuuuuuck, we have Medicare, an amazing education system and weather that can’t be beat. Everybody I’ve ever met lights up when I tell them I am Australian. Everybody loves us, or the idea of us (like how 11 year old me felt about Aaron Carter).

But what the hell Australia?! This country which has no guns, and preaches tolerance and claims to be forward thinking, still won’t allow certain people to get married because reasons?

Come on Australia, that is bullshit.

New Zealand (our younger, smaller, brother) passed gay marriage and this happy thing happened (get your tissues out):

What the fuck is our problem?

Unlike America, the church does not play that big of a role in our countries culture. In 2011 the census recorded that 5 million people (of our 20 million strong population) ticked “no religion” on their census forms.

So what? What the hell is keeping us from making marriage equality a thing. And if we pass it now, is it because we’re copying The US? We used to be a forward thinking country, carved from the rock and harsh soil by convicts and 2nd chancers.

Hurry the fuck up Australia, or you run the risk of being left behind in the dark ages.

And people like me, the young people, the educated people will stay away. We’ll marry our Aaron Carters and we won’t come home.

Figure it out.