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A Tale of Two Cities
Room for Squares
by Philip Wong on Jun 06, 2008
The thing about twins is that they try really hard to separate themselves. Take the Olsens, for instance. One is more flower power hobo and the other looks more well-to-do, plastic chic. Simply put, one could care less about appearance and the other couldn’t care more. So whether or not you’re a fan of either Olsen twin, you have to admit that there is a world of difference between the two. A difference, some would say, not unlike the distinction between Northern California and Southern California.
For all intents and purposes, California’s North and South can be represented by two major cities: San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively; the city of free love versus the city of angels. Because of the Castro and West Hollywood both have become Western Meccas of gay life, but to be honest, you’d be hard pressed to find two more divergent cultures. I remember thinking so when I first moved down to So-Cal for school.
For someone who had always taken public transportation, it was difficult to be stranded without a car. I mean, you even needed a car to go down the street. LA alone must be contributing about 10% to the earth’s pollution. Part of the problem is because the area is so spread out. But a bigger part is its consumer culture, a fact made most apparent to me last Saturday when my friends and I pulled into a prime WeHo parking spot in our silver gray Accord, only to find ourselves drowning in what can only be described as a Mercury (that’s the water planet, right?) of CLK 430’s and GS 300’s. Clearly, there was something different about the way we rolled.
Culture clashes like this always remind of that scene in Clueless, when Cher, Dionne and the rest of their Beverly Hills crew go to a party in the dreaded Valley, and Jeremy Sisto, in his all too preppie manner, somehow warbles a “rolling with the homies” just after Tai’s been pelted by someone’s loose clog. Except, in my mind, it was a little more “rolling with the homos", and I was Brittany Murphy, rough around the edges and not too sure if I could indeed, roll with it.
You see, I’m used to dive bars where the most expensive wall adornment is an out-of-town twink in some new Ralph Lauren polo (along with conspicuously over starched collar). But all of a sudden, I found myself ordering drinks at the bar from one of the guys in “Workout”, right underneath a Chihuly chandelier. I mean, I was ready for the over the top hot guy vs. hot guy battle of the Olympian gods I imagined took place in all WeHo bars. I dabbed on some cologne and even managed to lace up something other than Chucks, just so that I didn’t stick out too far. But man, nobody warned me that even the bars competed for bragging rights in this town.
So there I was, walking the illustrious strip festooned with bars and clubs, each one more popping than the next. I was beginning to realize why they call it the city of angels. Had I wandered into a new gay paradise? A wonderland of poppers and pop, where nobody needs to wear a jacket? No, I shook my head: it couldn’t be. Hollywood fairytales are too good to be true. Behind the glossy veneer, there’s always something out of place. And bam! There they were right under my nose: a couple of gay guys doing the nasty, just like they do at home.
I had started my adventure in WeHo a little unsettled by the dazzling locales and the even more dazzling locals. By the end of the night, however, whether by drink or by drunkards, I had felt right at home, which is a testament to the gay spirit. Because if you think about it, it could be the best of times, it could be the worst of times and we’d still know how to roll with it.
by Philip Wong on Jun 06, 2008