Um, Like, the Valley

In Sex and the City, when Carrie Bradshaw says she read “Brooklyn is the new Manhattan,” Miranda retorted, “Whoever wrote that lives in Brooklyn.”

If I lived within the 323 or 310 area code, my defense of the 818 would have more credibility. But since I'm an East Coast native, I'm hoping my two cents will be considered nonpartisan. Prior to my move to Los Angeles, there were mixed messages regarding the San Fernando Valley. On the one hand, strangers within earshot chuckled at Richard E. Grant’s character in L.A. Story after overhearing him say he lived in the valley. At the same time, the 80’s classic film Valley Girl gave us the idea it was a green oasis, jelly bracelet heaven. Privileged teens would throw decadent house parties, go on shopping sprees at giant pastel malls and lounge poolside. After all, I was a child of the 80’s, picking up the hot valley girl verbiage. “Totally tubular” and “Like, gag me!” were classic American phrases coined here, and were so popular, I had collected stickers with these phrases.

So which was it? After moving here, my peers immediately got to work to ensure the 818 stigma was firmly cemented in my psyche. I took up residence in the 323, where I thrived for years. But then an opportunity came that I couldn’t turn down. A writer friend was moving to New York and wanted to know if I’d like to move into his house. HOUSE – not apartment. A beautiful cabin just off Laurel Canyon with an expansive yard. It was the Garden of Eden with a fig tree, lemon tree, apple tree, roses, jasmine, etc. The only catch? It was in Studio City.

I took it, I love it and I realized I didn’t need to be in the middle of everything to feel I was a part of it. In fact, I can’t even enjoy the feeling of escape with paparazzi camping out at the local CVS to catch a glimpse of Britney Spears, or William Shatner’s Dobermans going ballistic on me when I take my dog for a walk. So what exactly is the “middle of everything”? An apartment across from Koi, where we may catch a glimpse of Cameron Diaz awaiting the valet to pull up in her famed Prius?

I love the bistros and boutiques lining Ventura Boulevard, I love the leafy adjoining neighborhoods and I don’t feel the need to convince anyone that Studio City is the new…the new…what even? Beverly Hills is considered more of a geriatric respite than the sheen of Aaron Spellings’ 90210, and while Silverlake is hipster heaven, it’s still segregated and dangerous at night.

I lived in Hollywood, and hookers would pass out on my side porch. I lived in West Hollywood and someone stole my bike and robbed our neighbors on the first floor. And while I’ll readily admit that parts of the valley are ugly, can it be any worse than certain ragged stretches of Pico Boulevard that lead to our beloved Pacific Ocean?

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