Sh*t LA people say about East Coasters

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about the things that people say when you tell them that you’re moving to LA, which examined outsiders’ perception of this city. Well, now that I’ve been in LA for a few months, I’m starting to see the flip side of the coin. Turns out that Angelinos have quite a few stereotypes about East Coasters. Some of these perceptions are accurate, some of them are hilarious and some are just plain wacko.

I had the opportunity this week, through a strange twist of fate, to hear a director describe to her cast the differences between Californians and East Coasters. Her speech went something like this:

“Okay, you are all going to be portraying New Yorkers. The first thing you need to know about New Yorkers is that they are not like Californians. They are always in a hurry. They don’t surf or hang out in the sunshine all day. They don’t have blond hair. And they’re jaded.”


New Yorkers don’t hang out in Malibu all day.

Up until this point, I thought that her description was pretty accurate. But then she said:

“Oh, and New Yorkers are really NICE. Also, they HUG people a lot.”

Are you kidding me? Could she really be describing the NYC I know? The one where horns constantly beep and strangers shout profanities in tough boy accents for no good reason? Where the garbage overflows into the streets and the air smells like a mix of sausage, pizza and the Hudson river? There are many words I could use to describe New Yorkers: driven, artistic, rude, fashionable, no-nonsense etc., but nice would never make it onto my list.

And I suspect that most East Coasters would agree with me. “Nice” is a word that we usually reserve for Midwesterners and our grandmothers. So what was this director thinking?

Well, it turns out that this stereotype is not limited to New York. Apparently Angelinos think that ALL East Coasters are nice. Practically every time I’ve told someone out here where I’m from they’ve said, “East Coasters are so nice!” This happens regardless of whether or not I claim D.C. or Boston. This even happened when I went to Oregon and talked to people from Portland, so the phenomenon is not limited to LA.

I’ve asked a few people why they think East Coasters are so much “nicer”. The main response is that “Angelinos work too much to be nice.” This shocked me. I mean, I thought Washingtonians were workaholics and that Californians just surfed all day. But it turns out that a lot of people in Hollywood work, really, really hard (think 70 hours a week and driving home at 4 a.m.) If you’re interested in what showbiz is really like, I highly recommend reading this “Sleepless in Hollywood” article.

But still, there are a lot of people who don’t work much here and a lot of people on the East Coast who work crazy hours. My theory is that East Coasters are not “nicer” at all, but rather less hesitant. What I suspect is that Californians spend so much time in their cars and in isolation that they tend to be a little guarded when they interact with people. The defensive driving techniques that they use on the road carry over to their social interactions. East Coast city dwellers, on the other hand, tend to take public transportation and are constantly bumping into strangers, whether they want to or not. So they develop coping mechanisms for interacting with people, one of which is kindness. Angelinos are nice too, it just takes them a while to warm-up to people.

Then there’s hugging. Are East Coasters really a huggy bunch? When I lived in Massachusetts, I never hugged people. But in DC I did start hugging everyone. I’m not sure why: I just woke up one day and started hugging people and everyone hugged back. And in recent years I’ve seen a lot of people hugging in my neck of the woods. So maybe we are a huggy bunch. Or maybe we’ve just brought the hug back and LA will eventually catch up with the trend? Either way, I think I’ll make it my personal mission to rock the hug in LA, whether Angelinos want one or not. At the very least it will be an interesting social experiment.

Before wrapping up this entry, I should mention that there are a few more things I’ve heard Angelinos say about the East Coast, including:

  • The strawberries are really bad on the East Coast. (This is true; the strawberries in California are amazing).
  • The buildings are really tall out there. (I don’t bother to tell people that this is not true of DC, which has a height ordinance. Nor do I point out that there are some skyscrapers in LA).
  • You have a great Standard American accent. (Okay, this is technically something someone said about me, but I was just using my normal accent and it’s the same one that most DC professionals have, so I’m assuming that this is something that applies to anyone who lacks a Valley girl accent).
  • East Coasters are better at partying. (For some reason Angelinos really seem to have a hang-up about this one. I’m not sure why they think their parties are so lame. My guess is that it has something to do with strict drunk driving laws and a lack of public transportation. This could be a great argument for expanding the public transit system out here: more public transportation = less drunk drivers + better parties. Everybody wins).

Okay people, what have you heard Californians say about East Coasters or East Coasters say about Californians? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Political Action of the Week

In follow-up to last week’s blog, I’ve decided to post a political action per week that Angelino’s can take to improve their city, state, country or world.

This week, I’m going to post two: one for Californians and one for everybody else.

1) Californians: This is another petition related to fracking in California (see last week’s blog for a description of why this is important). This one requests a moratorium. If you live in California, you can sign it here.

2) Everyone: Richard Branson and James Cameron wrote an excellent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times this weekend about the need for action by the United Nations to protect the world’s oceans. Please take a minute to sign this petition to ask the government to do more to protect the high seas.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. If you like this blog, make sure to sign-up in the “Follow” box on the top right-hand side.



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6 responses to “Sh*t LA people say about East Coasters

  1. r weiler

    You have picked a tough one. Establishing the character of Homo angelino var. originalis will require a detailed study of subtypes: pasadenensis, valleyensis and several others; disregard anyone north of Lancaster and south of Laguna; ignore desert people and anyone who has lived in San Francisco.
    Good luck,

  2. Ellen

    “Nice?” Wow. You know, as a DC transplant from the South, I’ve always been a bit uneasy about the “nice” stereotype of the South. Somehow it never really seemed to tell the whole truth. Then last week I was talking with a coworker who put it perfectly: “Midwesterners are nice. Southerners are polite.” That seems like it would fit your theory, too, maybe. I think it was Emily Post who said that manners are meant to make those around us comfortable. If, by your theory, East Coast city dwellers (because I think we would have to compare city-to-city) have to interact with more strangers daily than West Coast city dwellers, maybe it’s a question of politeness mistaken for niceness.

    • Originally I was going to write that Southerners are “nice” (in addition to Midwesterners) but then I thought about it and realized that I don’t actually think that. I think you hit the nail on the head: Southerners are polite. Which can be a great quality, but when I’m in the South it sometimes feels like I’m talking to Rachel McAdam’s character in “Mean Girls,” who says “I love your bracelet” and then, as soon as my back is turned, mouths “What an ugly bracelet.”

  3. Pingback: Californian Dream (Part 3: The Big Orange) | The Chris Whiting Show

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