My first experience of Los Angeles was many years ago visiting a friend, and it was exactly what you would expect. He managing an incredibly famous rock star, owned a groovy Venice Beach restaurant and lent me his Maserati for the week. Cheesy? Yes. Fun? Definitely. Even so, I wasn’t entirely enamored with the place. I was from sunny, colorful and fabulously cheeky Miami Beach and LA seemed like one big endless city with not much to define it except some hills on the east and a freezing shoreline on the west. But it was Hollywood baby.
Years later I headed back to LA, but this time a grown-up working for a New York public relations agency whose clients’ products often appeared in films and/or on movie stars. We went to any number of red carpet events and hosted suites in places like the Four Seasons or the Chateau Marmont and again it was cheesy, but it was fun. In my jaded New York mind - I had moved north on cold January to the heart of the then fairly scary East Village, but that’s another story - LA was a second-class city. Nothing ever happened there of real value and when it did it was all ‘industry-related’ and how one-note is that after a while?
I took a break from LA over the past few years; our agency changed direction and celebrity endorsement became much less important. But I’ve been back recently and what a change. What used to seem like a pure Hollywood play has been replaced by ‘start-up fever.’ Sitting in a Beverly Hills hotel all the buzz in the lobby was about who was starting what next and how many VCs they were connected to. Granted it had the same networked vibe, and the currency was still money and power, but the game had definitely changed. And for the better. While Silicon Valley may be the heart and brains of the exploding tech revolution, LA still has all the content, or at least most of it. Why shouldn't it claim its place in the sun? So here’s to LA – may your status as the arbiter of entertainment remain intact. Albeit with a new, healthy glow.