This weekend, I have very important plans: a trip to Dunkin Donuts. This may sound unremarkable, but LA’s first (and, so far, only) Dunkin opened this week in Santa Monica. It is the coffee chain I grew up on (my hometown area didn’t even get a Starbucks until I was nearly in college) and since moving to the west coast, I have been known to plan my layovers on trips home based on which airports have one. The fact that I am willingly getting on the 405 (from the VALLEY) for coffee should tell you all you need to know about what a big deal this is to me.
I grew up in upstate New York, went to college in Boston, and spent the summer between my junior and senior years of college living in New York City. In addition to those 11 glorious summer weeks, I took regular trips to the Big Apple both while growing up and while in college. Dunkin’s LA move is definitely one small step for coffee drinkers, one giant leap for east coast transplants, but there are still many things that NYC just does better than LA.
1) Transportation. I used to really, genuinely enjoy driving…and then I moved to LA. In NYC, you’re weird if you have a car, and if you grew up there, you’re weird if you even have a license. The subway is 24/7, and the city is highly walkable. Also, it is literally a grid and actually makes sense, as opposed to cities like Boston and LA, which look like they were planned by a couple of drunk monkeys. And if all else fails/you’re too drunk to handle the subway or your own two feet, you can’t even walk a block without tripping over 18 taxis (unless it’s raining. If it’s raining, you’re screwed). In LA, you have to plan ahead if you want to get anywhere by a means of transportation that is not driving. The invention of services like Uber has made this a bit easier, but it’s less affordable, and LA’s Metro trains are only helpful if you are going to a few specific places, and only before midnight (unless it’s Friday or Saturday). Finally, shoutout to the fact that prior to moving to LA I had never been in an accident, but while living here I have been in 3, zero of which were my fault.
2) Theater. Don’t get me wrong- LA has some fantastic theater, 2nd only to NY, I’d say. I have really enjoyed exploring and becoming involved in the west coast theater scene, but it still doesn’t compare. Nine times out of ten, you can’t get out of work and spontaneously decide to go get cheap tickets to a show. For starters, cheap tickets are generally harder to come by when there are fewer offerings and engagements are almost always limited, and secondly, LA driving requires you to have much more of a plan in advance. In NY, if you get off work and feel like seeing a show, you can easily take the subway to Times Square and wander from theater to theater until you find a ticket.
3) Nightlife. Not only can you get literally anywhere without having to drive, but they don’t call it the city that never sleeps for nothing. Getting home at 5am when the birds start chirping is a perfectly normal (although, not encouraged) occurrence because the bars JUST CLOSED. The summer I lived in the city, I would close up the store where I worked at midnight, go meet up with my friends who hadn’t even left their apartments yet, and hit three different bars. In LA, everyone basically turns into a pumpkin at 2am.
4) Blockheads. This wonderful establishment is famous for its potent $3 margaritas. The midtown location has first-come, first-served outdoor seating (translation: getting a table here on a summer day is not unlike the Hunger Games), and it is THE place to go on a hot afternoon. Last time I was in NY during the summer, I ran into 3 people I knew at Blockheads on a random afternoon and I didn’t even live in the city anymore. I have yet to find anywhere in LA that can compare to the atmosphere, prices, taste, and bang for your buck. They also have this amazing drink called the Black Flower that is half frozen margarita, half sangria, and I’m basically salivating just thinking about it.
5) Street fairs and vendors. Where else can you get $1 pad thai? I am also proud to say I have $5 pashminas I bought off the NY streets in basically every color of the rainbow, and I always get compliments on them.
6) Seasons- specifically, fall and spring. I really love wearing boots and scarves, and there are maybe 4 days a year in LA where this is socially acceptable (but who cares, I wear them more than that). I know this is the ultimate first world problem, but I have all of those $5 pashminas I bought in NY just burning a hole in my closet, sad and neglected.
7) People are actually on time for things because they don’t get stuck in traffic. In LA, 10 minutes late is practically considered on time. New Yorkers don’t stand for that shit. At my old job, an assistant in NY once called me because our client was 2 minutes late for a meeting. Here, that would be EARLY.
8) Christmastime in NY is truly magical. The lights and window displays almost make up for the fact that it’s 10 below zero. Almost.
9) New York can handle rain. If it’s not snow/sleet/hail, life proceeds as normal- ain’t nobody got time for that. In LA, life as we know it ceases to exist if a drop or two of water falls from the sky, and also becomes complicated if zero drops of water fall from the sky for a very extended period of time.
10) Finally: pizza and bagels. The last time I was in New York, my friends and I got bagels on Long Island on New Year’s Day. That bagel was so perfect and wonderful I still fantasize about it sometimes. Also, most $1 slices of pizza from random bodegas in the city (shoutout to Z-Deli) are superior to any pizza in LA. I feel like the only way Angelenos have survived under these conditions for so long is because most of them don’t eat carbs anyway.
Don’t get me wrong – LA also has many advantages, I am fortunate to live here, and I’m sure anyone reading this who grew up in LA completely disagrees with most of my points. But to the uninitiated – don’t knock Dunkin Donuts until you try it, okay?