Why We Love to Hate L.A.


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(page 4 of 4)

Speaking of the mass media, San Diegans ought to remember Michael Tuck. Now a news anchor for KCBS-TV in L.A., he worked for CBS and ABC affiliates in San Diego for 12 years. He’s been in Los Angeles since 1990 (and had a newscaster role in the summer blockbuster Armageddon). Tuck weighs in: “A lot of Angelenos think San Diego is too slow a place to live. There certainly is a hell of a lot more to do in L.A. It infuriates some San Diegans to hear that.

“It’s a rivalry—but it’s a fierce one-way rivalry. San Diegans don’t just hate L.A. They hate anyone who doesn’t hate L.A. But Angelenos feel more rivalry toward San Francisco. If you want to talk about traffic, though, it’s getting just as bad in San Diego. I have a 10-year-old son who lives in Del Mar who I see on the weekends. And the traffic from Oceanside to Del Mar is just as bad as in L.A.”

Susan Taylor disagrees with Tuck—but thinks if the situation is left unabated, San Diego’s traffic gridlock could soon rival the legendary logjams of Los Angeles. Taylor anchors the local news on KNSD-TV. She worked for San Diego’s KFMB-TV from 1982 to 1986, spent time at L.A.’s Fox affiliate (1992-95) and returned here to work for NBC in ’95.

“I covered the O.J. Simpson trial for Fox,” says Taylor. “And I was in Koreatown with a bulletproof vest and a gas mask when the Rodney King verdict came in. Believe me, San Diego is a better place to live and work. I got tired of the smog and the traffic and the lack of morals and values I saw there.

“I was immersed in the bizarre circus that was the O.J. trial. After that, I wanted to get my life back. If I had continued to stay there, I would have started to develop an odd view of the world. You can get caught up in that stuff.”

There’s no question that L.A. has had its low points, admits Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. “But we are very much on a high note as we close the decade of the ’90s,” he says. “We have lots of good news to share, including the most manufacturing jobs in the country and a tremendous cultural diversity, which I am extremely proud of.”

Riordan says that together, Los Angeles and San Diego make up one of the most vibrant and vital parts of the United States. He also says he and San Diego Mayor Susan Golding “speak frequently about how our cities can collaborate to improve the quality of life and continue Southern California’s growth and prosperity.”

Riordan points to the “sheer scope of the numbers” and “a very visible entertainment industry” as reasons for L.A.’s spotlight hoggery. “Los Angeles may be laid back in attitude,” he says, “but we’re high profile in style.”

Mayor Golding concedes that when visiting places in Asia, she’s had to educate folks to the fact that San Diego is not a suburb of Los Angeles. “California is huge, and some people I’ve met didn’t realize San Diego has a separate identity from L.A.,” she says. “But that’s changing. Events like the RNC and the Super Bowl and the America’s Cup are making a difference. We’re definitely a world-class city.

“But that doesn’t mean we want to be like L.A. Yes, we’re smaller. But I don’t think anybody can argue that our quality of life isn’t better. And we’ve got an intellectual base here—at UCSD and at San Diego State—that is a high-tech presence that’s taking us into the future.”

Golding points out that a strong base of political support has long existed in San Diego for no-growth groups such as PLAN! (Prevent Los Angelization Now!). She thinks that the sentiment will always exist. “I guess the big thing about L.A is the assumption that if something happens there, it must be important, or it must be the best. That’s how they think up there. It’s so annoying.”

We could perpetuate this discussion indefinitely. Opinions in the great Los Angeles–San Diego debate are like cellular phones —nearly everybody’s got one, and they’re always ringing. But, points out psychologist Ferdman, there’s almost no way to escape bias. “If this topic were part of cocktail-party discussion, there’s no definitive way to win the argument,” he says. “Everyone has their own cognitive distortions. Some people drive into L.A. and can’t stand it. Others find the good things to admire. The same can be said for San Diego.”

Perhaps. In that light, let us submit these last few partisan images, collected in the process of extensive research. This raillery is from a famous social observer who requested anonymity: “Why is it Los Angeles has more lawyers than anywhere else, and New Jersey has more toxic dumps than anywhere else? New Jersey had first pick.”

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright: “Tip the world over on its side, and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”

Graffiti painted somewhere in Los Angeles: “I shot an arrow into the air, and it stuck.”

And finally, late-night TV talk-show host David Letterman: “Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.”

At this point we’d planned to pass along a few famous or funny exhortations regarding San Diego. But they’re few and far between. Ralph Rubio, cofounder of Rubio’s Restaurants, once said, “There truly is no finer place to live and work than San Diego. Viva fish tacos! Viva fish tacos!” We’ll keep looking.

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