I hate the My City is better than Your City debate—maybe because no one in Los Angeles cares?—but that aside, Joe Queenan’s unapologetic love for L.A. is pretty great.
That’s why I opted for Los Angeles, where I spent three days reacquainting myself with trusty old pleasures: the Santa Monica Pier, Farmers Market, the diner on Sunset Strip where half the patrons drive Porsches, those incongruously downscale tar pits poised next to the L.A. County Museum of Art, the inner sanctum of Book Soup, the phantasmagoric real estate of Beverly Hills and, most of all, the city’s Edenic vegetation. When push comes to shove, I love Los Angeles because it lacks self-consciousness. Like New York, it is a sprawling Babel, a genuine melting pot, a complete mess. The architecture is always at war with itself. Nobody ever hauled out a drawing board for this assignment. Zoning boards do not seem to exist. It’s a city that defines and even celebrates the raucous incoherence that lies at the heart of the American character. It’s full of surprises, full of anomalies, full of festive contradictions. In no sense does Los Angeles ever feel like a corporate city with a written game plan. It is always a work in progress.