Here we are Pop Art number 150. As my loyal readers (hi mom!) know, for the first 78 columns I had a co-writer, the wonderful and talented Chris Toia. He moved back to New York last spring but is returning today for a comprehensive breakdown of the relative merits of New York and Los Angeles. Also we’ve thrown in Portland for it’s unique position as hipster nirvana. Join us for the Pop Art…and Chris City Showdown.
We’ve consulted many other publications’ rankings and have condensed their systems into the following five super-categories: Weather, Crime and Punishment, White People Food, Non-White People Food, Jobs, and the “It Gets Dark Early Around Here” factor.
- New York: Living in LA really gave Chris a new appreciation for the seasons. There’s summer, or as the locals call it, “the smelly season.” It’s all worth it though because fall is beautiful, except when it rains every day, which it does. But you can enjoy the fall foliage, if you go somewhere with trees, so not New York City. Spring is genuinely nice for the week where you get the weather that LA has all the time. Think of how much more you appreciate it.
- Los Angeles: It’s beautiful. 325 days of sunshine. 14.89 inches of rain per year. We’re pretty sure New York has days with more than 14.89 inches of rain. End of discussion.
- Portland: How would you even tell? The people who live in Portland wear cardigans 350 days a year. It’s like they’re all trying to be in Nirvana videos. We know that’s not what people looked like in Nirvana videos. The point is fuck you Portland.
Crime and Punishment
- Los Angeles: In LA you’re unlikely to be mugged but that’s because you’re unlikely to ever set foot on a sidewalk. The police consider sidewalks to be a free-for-all zone so the sidewalks in LA are slowly starting to look like a scene out of Robocop. I mean people are being graphically shot to pieces on the streets. As for punishment we will simply direct you to that fantastic 2001 documentary Training Day. It is used as an instructional video at the LA police academy.
- New York: Crime is down, unfortunately crime is a lot of fun and now New York bears a striking similarity to Disneyland. When we say crime is down we mean crime is down for white people and places where white people live. The low crime can be attributed to a greater degree of affluence. Also to harsher punishments for crimes committed by poor people. Furthermore there has been a decided dumping of lower class individuals in to north Jersey and Long Island. White flight that bitches.
- Portland: Portland has the highest rate of white homelessness in the country assuring that it’s the only place where people offer to work for vegan food exclusively. Punishment is swift in Portland. If you’re caught doing something illegal you’ll be put in time out and forced to stand in the corner until you’ve thought about what you’ve done.
- New York: Last week Chris had a hard choice. He was hungry late in the day and he was paralyzed by choices. Should he get food from one of two excellent pizza places or from his local bagel place? In the end he decided to have food delivered from a top-notch diner. A lot of people say the reason LA has subpar Italian and Jewish foods is the lower quality tap water; we’re pretty sure it’s the lower quality competence.
- Los Angeles: LA has a long tradition of taking quality food items and turning them into bland high-calorie fast food. Who needs to go to a restaurant with silverware when you can get the entire Jack in the Box menu 24 hours a day? Angeleno food is fast and it leaves furiously. What else could you want?
- Portland: Home of the bacon donut and an awful lot of heroin. Smack is basically the fifth food group up there. On the bright side it’s the purest heroin in the country and arguably the cheapest. Also they have a lot of whiskey made in microbatches at local distilleries. If you wanted to be a beat poet or gonzo journalist Portland has the food scene for you.
- Los Angeles: Most places haven’t heard of the torta; LA has an entire torta subculture. We won’t hesitate to say that LA has the best and most diverse ethnic food offerings in the entire nation. If that isn’t enough it’s cheap, dirt cheap, we mean people who have recently immigrated to this country can afford to buy it cheap.
- New York: Oh man dude, there’s this guy. Take the J train, yeah the J train. Take it all the way to the end. Then, when you get off, you’re gonna want to walk like nine blocks. On your left there’s going to be a restaurant, you don’t want to go there, it’s terrible. But below that restaurant there’s this guy. He’s not an official restaurant or anything but if you slip five dollars under the door you can get some decent tacos. Yeah, I guess there’s decent ethnic food in New York.
- Portland: There are no non-white people in Portland. Probably.
- New York: The job scene in New York is incredible. If you’re an unscrupulous banker you’re raking in the dough; if you’re anything else you’re struggling to make ends meet paycheck to paycheck no matter how much money you make. It’s gotten so bad that white people are living in places like Bushwick and Bed Stuy. That’s right the place Do The Right Thing was set. If Jay-Z were born today he wouldn’t be able to afford to grow up in the Marcy Projects.
- Los Angeles: We’ve never seen anyone work. I mean there are waiters and waitresses and stuff but we don’t know what a real job looks like here. Sometimes people wear suits and take meetings but that looks more like eating than work. Most jobs seem to consist of being famous or trying to become famous. There are also sound technicians; those guys really look like they’re busting their ass.
- Portland: Allegedly some people in Portland work. Mostly they participate in collectives. For example, you can trade seeds for manure. Basically Portland is like a real life Farmville. You know you’ve made it when someone comes by and says they’ve found a pig with your name on her collar, unless it’s an elaborate joke about your mother. Hey Chris… I found this pig.
“It Gets Dark Early Around Here” Factor
- New York: Sometimes it seems like the Bronx is in perpetual moonlight. At least it seems like it’s never high noon. Maybe around Yankee Stadium but even a day game it is pitch black 30 minutes after the last out is recorded. And let’s just say that some subways aren’t as well lit as others. Luckily if you stick to neighborhoods with a Whole Foods it’s like the British Empire, the sun never sets.
- Los Angeles: Oddly enough in Los Angele elevation has a lot to do with what time the sun sets. In the hills you get good light basically all the time. Unless you live near Will Smith or something. The rest of the city really lives in the long shadows cast by those hills. It seems like it never gets very bright in the valleys or the basins. Once you get into numbered streets it’s like being in Pitch Black, it’s very dark and there are monsters. Also Vin Diesel is the only person who can save you.
- Portland: Let’s just say that in Portland it stays light out pretty much all the time. It really raises the livability quotient if you know what we mean. Are we doing this right? We read a lot of best places to live lists and they all spend a lot of time identifying which cities have the most white people by dancing around the issue. We see you Forbes and Good Housekeeping, even Maxim. You’re all racist. But yeah, odds are if you see a black person in Portland they play for the Trail Blazers.
Declaring a winner
If we followed the standards set by all the scales we read going in to this Portland would be the winner hands down because their overwhelming whiteness would count more than every other category combined (seriously, these lists are terrible). In reality we feel that Los Angeles isn’t as bad as everyone in New York says it is and New York probably isn’t as amazing as every New Yorker believes it to be and vice versa. They’re both two of the best places to live in this country with apologies to Chicago and San Francisco which neither have had the pleasure to live in. Seriously though Chicago, your weird tomato bread casserole is not a fucking pizza.