The clock strikes four and an orchestra of horns starts to blare loudly, drowning out thoughts and radio static with harmonic familiarity. But this tune, while certainly impassioned, is not the work of any old Classical master like Mozart, Bach or Beethoven.
It is the sound of the 101 Freeway during rush-hour as the freeway overflows with cars moving at a frustratingly slow pace, and it may as well be music because it is an unavoidable part of every Angeleno’s day.
Sitting virtually motionless day after day and listening to the city’s theme song, whether I like it or not, has given me too much time to dwell on my least favorite parts of Los Angeles. Traffic aside, there are fires, blazing hot summers, poor public transportation systems and scattered city centers to complain about.
But as much as my gridlock-induced agitation makes me spite my hometown, I could not be more grateful for having grown up here, and I urge us all to appreciate our aptly named City of Angels for the following reasons.
The average Angeleno is so much more than the superficial stereotype that portrays us as shallow and avocado toast-obsessed. Yes, many of us can’t tough it out in sub-60-degree weather, and yes, we do enjoy post-spin class acai bowls. But regardless, I believe Los Angeles builds valuable character traits like no other city.
We learn to be patient from traffic-filled commutes, to care for our neighbors in need when fires terrorize our communities and to be conscious of our resource consumption after years of droughts.
Similarly, while I value well-known locations like Universal Studios, Rodeo Drive and the Santa Monica Pier, to me these tourist attractions are not wholly representative of the magic L.A. has to offer.
Behind the rows of palm trees, Mickey Mouse ears and star-covered sidewalks is a rich and vibrant culture and history waiting to be explored.
My mission is not only to urge all Angelenos to appreciate their city, but also to motivate them to take advantage of all it has to offer.
Like the fortune seekers who came here nearly 200 years ago during the Gold Rush, we have all struck gold with nearly endless museums, restaurants and historic sites at our disposal just a short drive away.
So, instead of opting for the same old excursion to the mall, discover the flavors of Little Ethiopia, visit Watts Towers or crack open a good book and admire the stunning dome at the Central Library. Choose the enthralling views and collection at the Getty Villa over the movie theater or take a short drive to a historic Spanish mission. Get out of The Flats and take a ride on Angels Flight or lift weights alongside bodybuilders at Muscle Beach. Wake up early one New Year’s Day and go see the floats at the Rose Parade. Wear blue and stuff your face with overpriced garlic fries at an intense Dodgers vs. Giants game. Take a tour of the renowned and elegant Queen Mary ship or leave bouquet of flowers at the Judy Garland Pavilion at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Long story short, we should not hesitate to break out of our comfortable routines and capitalize on the innumerable opportunities our city has to offer.
The next time you are sitting in rush-hour traffic and it feels like no matter how loud you turn up the radio you cannot tune out the sound of honking car horns, try to shift your focus and take a moment to remember how fortunate you are to live in Los Angeles, the most culturally diverse, hectic and influential city on earth.