Let me tell you, it doesn’t get much better than stepping onto an airplane in 45-degree, rainy weather, and arriving somewhere 40 degrees warmer with the sun and a clear sky beaming down on you. And that’s what happened when I traveled from New York to Los Angeles last week.
It was my first time in California, or SoCal, as they like to call it, and it did not take very long to become acclimated.
On the east coast, we’re lucky if we have 40 days per year of 80+ degree weather. We call it summer. In California, it’s called “today.” It doesn’t matter what month it is.
So once you get past the blistering sunburn in the first 48 hours, California feels like a place you’ve lived in all your life.
Rather than trying to pack in California’s major cities in a weeklong trip, we instead stuck to exploring Los Angeles, visiting different neighborhoods along the coast, including Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Hermosa Beach, Anaheim, Huntington Beach and Venice Beach.
Among the many tourist attractions I visited — besides Anaheim Angels Stadium, where I tried my very best to stand up and flap my arms in attempt to summon Christopher Lloyd a la Angels in the Outfield — was the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, also known as the house where Donald Sterling is no longer welcome.
Sterling’s racially insensitive comments rocked the world like a tidal wave last week, and it was pretty coincidental that I happened to head in L.A. merely a few days later, whilst the Sterling-owned Los Angeles Clippers were entangled in a thrilling best-of-seven playoff series against interstate brethren Golden State Warriors. So when the Warriors won Game 6, necessitating a Game 7 in Los Angeles on Saturday night, my friends and I knew we couldn’t miss the opportunity. We went.
As a white male living on the complete opposite coast of Los Angeles who shares no bond with the Clippers organization, I’m not really going to pretend like I harbor vicious contempt for Sterling, even if I do fully appreciate the stupidity of his remarks and agreed with his lifetime ban.
That being said, there was definitely a nice feeling of satisfaction sitting in the arena with the knowledge that their bigoted owner is forbidden from doing exactly that. He may be a billionaire, but I found the one place in Los Angeles he wasn’t allowed to go. Me, 1, Sterling 0.
(The score ends there.)
Playoff games tend to have pretty electric atmospheres without any added incentive, but with a decisive game of an exciting 7-game series amid all the hubbub surrounding it, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While I didn’t particularly care who won the game, the Clippers ultimately did, which is probably for the best since you never know when you’re going to end up in a fan induced riot.
Being a New Yorker, I know I’m supposed to be tough, but I will scurry away from a riot faster than a mouse from a sticky trap.
For those wondering if there was any collateral damage from Sterling’s comments on Clippers fans, the answer is no. With the NBA’s quick response, the situation is over and done with. I saw no signs or protests. Just excited fans at a basketball game, which is how it should be.
And generally speaking, Californians get a somewhat negative reputation for being lazy or laid back, but I understand it now. Being three hours behind the East Coast, and on totally different schedules, you almost stop thinking of that part of the country entirely while you’re there. It’s like a different world.
But there’s one thing New Yorkers and Californians have in common — it’s that we can all set foot into the Staples Center whenever we please, unlike their prejudiced owner.