Onward and upward with our series this week interviewing friends who’ve made the move westward to the golden sunset of a city that is Los Angeles. Today, we speak with Josh Jackson, student, sports fanatic, and, in our opinion, excellent writer, with the hopes of putting a keen eye on the wealth of outdoor activities in Los Angeles, whether we’re likely to be eaten by mountain lions if we move there, and what it’s like to live in Koreatown.
What do you do in LA?
I go to grad school at USC. I’m almost finished with that, and will work from home after. Mostly because of my school schedule, I’ve been something of a hermit, socially speaking, but I do occasionally go out to places like bookstores and movie theaters and theater theaters (um, like, three times a year, or so?), and I run trails here, and for awhile I was surfing once a week. But that was hard, and I wasn’t getting any better because I didn’t have time to try more often than once a week, and most of those sessions were spent re-figuring out what I’d figured out at the end of the last session.
Alright then. How long have you lived there?
A little more than a year-and-a-half. This is my second “tour,” as I also lived in Southern California for three years about a decade ago.
What do you like most about LA?
I’m going to say, “the weather,” and everybody is going to think, “my god, that is sad. The best thing about the city is the weather?”
That’s fine, go ahead and have that reaction. Then spend just two minutes thinking about how much the weather can actually impact your mood and your day.
So, “the weather.”
That weather is not fucking around. What do you think is most lacking in LA?
Hmm… It’s a huge and diverse place. I think you can find just about anything you want. We have had a hard time finding a banh mi that will please Ella, I guess. She can’t NOT compare each one to Hanco’s.
Also, um, fresh water. We do not have a lot of fresh water. That’s something I wrestle with, conscience-wise. I am able to silence myself with my radical new showering techniques, which I’ll only discuss in-person and off-the-record.
Oh, we’ve got a ‘special’ blog for that kind of thing. Does it suck to have to drive EVERYWHERE‽
Actually, I don’t! Ella and I share a car, and that was our plan moving out here. We knew I’d be spending a lot of time on campus and that it would be pretty much the only place I would need to be, so we found an apartment accessible to mass transit. There are also a lot of easily and pleasurably walkable neighborhoods in L.A. The key, if you don’t want to drive around all the time, is to live in your own, shrunk-down version of the city. Pick a neighborhood that has everything you want, don’t be afraid to be the only pedestrian on the sidewalk, and start loving life!
Interesting. So, where do you live in LA?
And how would you describe the neighborhood?
Central, diverse (it’s not just Koreans!), more happening than I need, mostly friendly, and a parking cluster-cuss. (We have a spot in our building, thank heavens.)
Most memorable, life-altering, fucked up, or just funny experience to date in LA?
When I first started trail-running out here, I saw three coyotes over the course of a couple weeks. I’m used to them now—see them all the time. But when I first got here, I thought that was a real trip, especially because I would tell everybody and nobody would care. They’d be like, ‘Oh, yeah? That happens. There’s a lot of coyotes around.’
THEY SOUND LIKE ASSHOLES. Best celebrity sighting you’ve had?
I sat next to Bob Odenkirk at Peet’s for a really long time last year. That was pretty cool. When I lived here in the aughts, I used to see Fabio all the time. He was always going into the gym downstairs from my office. Oh, speaking of, saw Arnold Schwarzenegger on the USC campus a bit ago. I’ve also seen a lot of amazing novelists and essayists at various readings and panels around town, but do we want to get nerdy about this? I’ll be here all night.
Nice use of ‘the aughts’ though. Favorite:
Not totally vegan restaurant?
It’s one of those mini-chains/local chains, but Pitfire Pizza serves a number of delicious dishes (not all pizza) made with locally grown produce. In the fall/winter they had a pizza called something like “the late-season tomato pie.” Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. And I’m eating something else right now. I believe there are a number of vegan options, too.
Wait, pizza in LA? Okay. Vegan/veg restaurant?
Cafe Gratitude. You should eat EVERYTHING there, but if you have to choose, I am partial to the I AM TRANSFORMED.
Right, we went there. It was crazy/awesome. Best place for tacos in town?
Oh, man, that I AM TRANSFORMED dish? It’s vegan tacos. And really freakin’ good ones. I think most of the taquerias that Angelenos brag about are not vegan, or even vegetarian-friendly (lard, lard, lard). But there’s supposedly a vegan Mexican joint somewhere around here called Cinnamon. Ella and I have been talking about going since we moved here, but somehow we haven’t yet.
Oh, right—I actually got the tacos at Gratitude. They were pretty awesome. Coffee shop?
Bricks + Scones on Larchmont. The house drip. Rotates, but it’s always fantastic.
That is a pretty fantastic name. Plus I love the very sophisticated pig in the logo. Museum/gallery?
LACMA. Even though that’s like saying, “The Met,” or “MOMA,” if you asked this question about New York, LACMA is a terrific museum with an amazing and eclectic collection and a fun campus.
We loved it. Movie theater?
CGV Cinemas—Korean films with English subtitles and Hollywood films with Korean subtitles.
Beautiful. In closing?
This is a great city from which to have an outdoor life, as far as cities go. You will NOT be eaten by a mountain lion. Mountain lions are not at all interested in having an interaction with you. I’m actually working right now on an essay about the mountain lions of the Santa Monica range, who are fighting for survival, thanks to human encroachment. More on that later though!