Day 415

Of all the cities I’ve visited on our journey, I’m coming to find that LA is far and away the oddest of them all. And I don’t mean odd as in quirky (I doubt anyone will ever top Portland in that regard). No, I mean odd as in ‘I don’t understand what is going on’. I mean… LA has to be the only place in the US where you can find valet parking in the back of a Best Buy. Plus, it’s the only stop I’ve been to that’s so expansive I can’t walk from point A to point B, even if I wanted to.

To me, it all seems rather silly but to the people living here it’s just another day. That’s the running theme I’ve encountered over and over again since arriving in California at the end of November. Having never been to this part of the country, I’m constantly coming to grips with the fact that everything here is actually real. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling when I realized this state really is going through a draught. Before I landed, I'd always heard about it on the news but in my head that’s all it was—a news story. Now that I’m actually here, I’m experiencing the situation first hand and trying to comprehend how people are adapting to it all.

In a way, this final stop has fully justified my initial desire to embark on the project. I’ve always believed that going somewhere can teach you much more about a place than reading about it in a guidebook or through a travel site. Every city has so many little quirks and characteristics that no one ever talks about and they can make all the difference. For instance, I can tell you that Uber drivers hate going to/from the valley; most of the area Targets are smaller than the ones you’ll find elsewhere in the nation; and there are very few ‘cheap’ dining options around unless you want to eat at a Subway or Carl’s Jr.

Of course, these are all reasons as to why I wanted to end #TGAA in LA. I had a feeling this place would be vastly different than my other stops and it turns out I was right. I’m pretty bummed that I just wrapped up my last weekend here though (I’ll be in Las Vegas this coming weekend). I feel there’s so much more to explore that I could easily spend another 3-4 months in town. Then again, once I’m sitting on the 405 on my way to work, I’m pretty sure I’ll rejoice in the month almost being over.

I’m also finding myself overwhelmed with emotion about it all. Mostly because the site is garnering more traffic than ever before and I’m getting congratulatory emails left and right. So, while I’m uneasy about the project coming to a close, I do feel grateful in the fact that we reached so many people along the way.


Day 408

Whenever I think of LA, rarely do I think about the creative community here. Sure, we all know this place is full of actors, directors, musicians and many others with a 9-figure bank account. But, how often do we take the time to remember there’s a vast network of animators, writers, bloggers, comedians, set designers and chefs out here too?

As my friends continue to show me around the LA area, I’m becoming more and more familiar with just how tight-knit these tertiary players truly are. These are people whose names fall at the end of a credit reel. They’re the award winners whose categories never make it to air, if they’re even honored at all. They don’t live in giant hilltop mansions, nor do they drive around town in Bentleys and Porsches. Yet, the role they play in media and culture is irreplaceable. That’s why you’ll find many of them banded together, working as one to help each other succeed.  

A prime example of this is Meltdown Comics in Hollywood. Owned by comedian, Chris Hardwick, this comic book store boasts its own performance space (known as NerdMelt Theater), recording studio and even a classroom. While you won’t find any of these in a typical comic shop, they all play rather important roles here.

The classroom welcomes students looking to learn the ins and out of improv. The recording studio is often used as the backdrop for some of the Internet’s favorite podcasts like Nerdist, You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes and Dining with Doug and Karen. And the performance space allows students and professionals alike to take the stage and delight audiences each and every night.

The reason this all works is because Chris is a friend to the comedians and podcasters that grace the space. He wants to help them succeed, so he’s created a space that allows them to test material, reach new fans and even try out new mediums. In turn, these friends provide programming for his store and are able to improve their material as a result. It’s a simple case of friends helping friends helping friends. And it’s just one of many similar ecosystems I’ve discovered in the past week.

There are bars here where you can find dozens of writers helping one another with plot points, storylines and script revisions. There are hole-in-the-wall restaurants where you'll find animators scribbling their ideas onto napkins, just to get feedback from others at the table. Hit up a local coffee shop and you might even see a few comedians working on new punchlines. 

It’s extremely fascinating to see such cultures come to life, because these are the creatives we don’t often associate with the glitz and glamour of LA. Really, the only downside to it is that this city is so hard to get around in without a car and often people tend to cluster amongst each other as a result. If they had better public transportation here, I bet all these little ecosystems would mingle more often and create stunning works of art. Yet, I hear some people barely see each other, because of how bad the traffic can get. So, for all the wonderful things I’m uncovering here, I’d have to say that’s the one downfall to it all.

Traffic is the worst, am I right?