Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is Los Angeles Rude, or Just Insincere?

In what seems to be based on rather shaky criteria, Travel + Leisure magazine just named Los Angeles as "the rudest city in America."

Their reasoning is based on the magazine's "America’s Favorite Cities" survey, which asked readers to rate 35 cities on 54 features, (including "affordable hotels, great restaurants, romance potential, and the overall personality of the locals").

Here's what they wrote about L.A.:

No surprise, the traffic-laden city ranks last for being pedestrian-friendly, which probably cuts down on your chances to break the ice with locals. Looking good is your best revenge: the city’s brightest light for visitors is its luxury stores, which scored a red-carpet-ready No. 4.

Uh, OK. Meanwhile, L.A. Times Op-Ed columnist Gregory Rodriguez defends L.A. -- well, sorta -- by arguing that we're not rude... just insincere.

He writes:

With some exceptions, I consider Angelenos to be moderately courteous, although a tad insincere. In New York, you get honesty. If New Yorkers can't be bothered, they'll let you know. If they can, they're downright helpful.

I got a powerful hit of this bluntness one day years ago when I worked in New York right out of college. I was walking near the corner of 7th Street and Avenue A when I slipped and fell. If the embarrassment wasn't bad enough, I was shocked by the reaction of passersby. One guy chose to enjoy my misfortune and started applauding. Another fellow, his life evidently directed by the better angels of our nature, offered me his hand.

I've never taken such a public fall in L.A. — at least not physically — but if I trip tomorrow on, say, a sidewalk crack on Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown, I don't think I'd receive a hand of applause or help. But a few people might, in passing, ask if I was OK, more for the sake of form than real concern.

That's not exactly rude, but it's not exactly not, either. I think it points to a fundamental lack of a shared civic culture in Los Angeles.

So what do you think? Is it better to be rude but honest, or pleasant but insincere? And how would you rate L.A. on both characteristics?

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