Whenever I write anything about the San Fernando Valley on this here website, I invariably catch hell from dozens of disgruntled 818ers. My most recent perceived injustice, a quiz entitled What Los Angeles Neighborhood Should You Rent In? garnered one metric butt-ton of ire. "Wow," said Corporatelife20, "The valley diss is laughable. People are so insecure. [TGI] Friday's aren't even in the valley, in my hood at least." "So this entire quiz just exists to trot out old clichés and look down your noses at The Valley?" asked Chief Brody. "Leave the 'comedy' to more appropriate web sites. I hope all your moustaches and old timey sailor tattoos got a chuckle out of writing this!"
I'd like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to Corporatelife20 and Chief Brody for offending them. I'd like to, but I'm afraid I cannot. Because they have no right to be offended, as I've never said a bad thing about the Valley in my GD life. In fact, I have nothing but admiration for the sprawling home of stucco-encrusted mega apartment buildings and carwashes. I love the old clichés. I love TGI Friday's (the Northridge and Woodland Hills locations, Corporatelife20). To me, the Valley is a perfect, sundrenched paradise.
I can understand, however, why Valley residents are so quick to protect the region they call home. For decades, the Valley's been the butt of countless mediocre three-camera sitcom and hack comedy routine jokes. Personally, I've lost track of how many times I've found myself defending its greatness—and I don't even live there. Whenever I walk past the Intelligentsia in my neighborhood and find myself caught up in a tidal wave of mustaches and old timey sailor tattoos, though, I wish I did.
I'm enchanted by the Valley—if you're not, you're on the wrong side of history. Friends, Trojans, Los Angeles Countymen; lend me your ears and I'll sing you the sweet song of San Fernando. In my humble opinion, Culver doesn't hold a candle to Studio City. Here's why.
It's the Epicenter of Chains
I hate to belabor the point, but there are no TGI Friday's in Los Angeles proper. Allow me to reiterate—the second most populated city in America doesn't have a TGI Friday's. (And before you correct me, let the record show the Friday's by LAX, formerly owned by Magic Johnson, doesn't count—I mean, have you read its Yelp reviews?)
The Valley, however, has two TGI Friday's, and more PF Chang's than you can shake a chopstick at. Any chain you could possibly fathom is present and accounted for, from Fry's to Fuddruckers. If you're as tired as I am of $12 toast, insufferably artisanal cocktails, and boutiques that specialize in the sale of "organic clothing" (whatever the hell that is), the Valley feels like a warm, liquid-cheese-covered blanket of normalcy.
It's Not Trying to Impress You
Go to a karaoke night, any karaoke night, in the Valley, and you'll be surrounded by drunk middle-aged men and women who don't give a good goddamn whether or not you approve of their decision to caterwaul "Total Eclipse of the Heart" with a divorce-inspired passion. Their honesty lies in stark contrast to, say, karaoke night at the Bigfoot Lounge in Atwater Village, where objectively hot twentysomethings wearing sunhats indoors vogue for non-existent cameras while duetting on Smiths songs with their equally image-obsessed friends.
The Valley has no time for fashion victimhood, in much the same way it has no space for artisanal cheese shops (and it has a lot of space). It's California's Midwest, after all—as such, authenticity is revered (and thank God for it).
It Has Genuine Oddballs
Every bar in the Valley has a story, and an intoxicated weirdo or eight willing to slur it to you. If you've ever wanted to hear the sad, sordid tale of a man with an unironic mustache whose life peaked when he scored a walk-on role on My Two Dads (and why wouldn't you?), the Valley is literally the only place on the planet where you can do so. Ira Glass would have a field day at Sardo's.
There's Ample Parking
After 30 tearful minutes spent screaming and punching the dashboard while trying to park your hatchback in Koreatown, you'd slit your own mother's throat for the opportunity to easily pull in in front of your friend's house party. This is an undeniable fact. Speaking of facts, did you know that, in some parts of the Valley, street cleaning doesn't exist? Oh, God, give me a second—I just came.
You Can Afford a House
You—as in, you, someone who isn't an exec at Paramount—can afford to live like a human being in the Valley. Ready to live in something larger than a suicide-inducing studio apartment? With a pool? A mere staff job on a soon-to-be-canceled basic cable late night show hosted by a white guy is all it takes to live the dream.
Even Renters Are Kings
Haven't made staff yet? Just move your Ikea furniture into one of the countless sterile apartment buildings the Valley has to offer and wait it out in luxury! Unfettered access to an underground parking spot; mediocre gym; and spotless, microscopic pool no one ever uses will salve the psychic anguish of never being able to get your manager on the phone.
Paul Thomas Anderson Loves It
And he's, like, been nominated for Oscars and shit. PTA—director of Valley epics including Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Punch-Drunk Love—is the Valley's golden child. JB Lankershim and Isaac Van Nuys ain't got nothin' on him. He's done so much to defend its honor, I'm of the mindset they should erect a bronze statue of him on Magnolia Boulevard. Might I suggest a spot in front of the Foxfire Room? ·Megan Koester
· 30 Photos of San Fernando Valley Before It Joined LA in 1915 [Curbed LA]
· A Comprehensive Guide to Enjoying the Valley Without a Car [Curbed LA]