Moby: Los Angeles, The First City of the Apocalypse

February 3, 2014

Once he realized New York had become an unaffordable city that people “visit, observe, patronize and document, but don’t actually add to,” Moby moved to Los Angeles, drawn by its ethos of experimentation and its comfort with failure.

Hollywood by Moby

Photo by Moby, 2014.

I was born on 148th Street in 1965, and from then until the late 1990s it never dawned on me to live anywhere other than New York City. When I lived on 14th Street in the late ‘80s, I paid $140 a month to share an apartment with a bunch of other odd and dysfunctional musicians and artists. AIDS, crack and a high murder rate kept most people away from New York back then. But even though it was a war zone, or perhaps to some extent because it was a war zone, Manhattan was still the cultural capital of the world. Of course everything’s changed since. New York has, to state the obvious, become the city of money. People say your rent should be 30 percent of your salary; in Manhattan today, at least for many people, it’s hovering around 300 percent.

The gradual shift in New York’s economic fortunes and mores reminds me of the boiling frog theory. If you take a frog and throw it in a pot of boiling water, the frog will do everything in its power to escape. But if you place a frog in room-temperature water and slowly raise the heat, it will boil to death without realizing it’s dying. (I truly hope this theory will never actually be tested.) That’s what happened to me in New York. I was so accustomed to the city’s absurd cult of money that it took me years to notice I didn’t have any artist friends left in Manhattan, and the artists and musicians I knew were slowly moving farther and farther east, with many parts of Brooklyn even becoming too pricey for aspiring or working artists.

New York had entered the pantheon of big cities that people visit and observe and patronize and document, but don’t actually add to, like Paris.

During the 1990s, thanks to the cessation of the crack epidemic, New York became increasingly safer and more affluent, and less artist-friendly, but it was still the place I wanted to call home. What happened next reminded me of Gremlins: you’re not supposed to feed the gremlins after midnight or they metastasize. Gremlin midnight came to New York sometime in the mid-‘90s. I realized then that most people I met in New York were happily observing and talking about culture, but not necessarily contributing to it. It seemed New York had entered the pantheon of big cities that people visit and observe and patronize and document, but don’t actually add to, like Paris. No one goes to Paris imagining how they can contribute to the city. People go to Paris thinking, “Wow, I want to get my picture taken with Paris in the background.” That’s what New York became, a victim of its own photogenic beauty and success.

And, to again state the obvious, New York is exclusively about success—it’s success that has been fed steroids and B vitamins. There’s a sense that New Yorkers never fail, but if they do, they’re exorcised from memory, kind of like Trotsky in early pictures of the Soviet Communist Politburo. In New York you can be easily overwhelmed by how much success everyone else seems to be having, whereas in L.A., everybody publicly fails at some point—even the most successful people. A writer’s screenplay may be turned into a major movie, but there’s a good chance her next five screenplays won’t even get picked up. An actor may star in acclaimed films for two years, then go a decade without work. A musician who has sold well might put out a complete failure of a record—then bounce back with the next one. Experimentation and a grudging familiarity with occasional failure are part of L.A.’s ethos.

Experimentation and a grudging familiarity with occasional failure are part of L.A.’s ethos.

Maybe I’m romanticizing failure, but when it’s shared, it can be emancipating and even create solidarity. Young artists in L.A. can really experiment, and if their efforts fall short, it’s not that bad because their rent is relatively cheap and almost everyone else they know is trying new things and failing, too. There’s also the exciting, and not unprecedented, prospect of succeeding at a global level. You can make something out of nothing here. Take Katy Perry. She’s a perfectly fine singer who one minute was literally couch surfing and the next was a household name selling out 50,000-capacity stadiums. Or Quentin Tarantino, one minute a video clerk, the next minute one of the most successful writer/directors in history. Los Angeles captures that strange, exciting and at times delusional American notion of magical self-invention.

I don’t want to create a New York-L.A. dichotomy, because both cities are progressive and wonderful, and there are clearly many other great American cities. Artists aren’t just leaving New York for L.A.—they’re also going to Portland, Minneapolis, Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia and countless other places. And, as an aside, I don’t know why they aren’t moving to Newark. It’s 15 minutes away from Manhattan and remarkably cheap. I think it’s the unwarranted New Jersey stigma that unfortunately keeps people from crossing the Hudson. People would rather move to the worst part of Brooklyn and still have the magical “NY” in their address. That single consonant on their mail—”Y” as opposed to “J”— seems to keep people from making that 15-minute trek to Newark.

Plenty of other cities in the United States and abroad are, of course, interesting and beautiful, but I moved to L.A. due to its singular pre-apocalyptic strangeness. It seems equally baffled and baffling, with urban and suburban and wilderness existing in fantastic chaos just inches away from one another. There’s no center to L.A, and in many ways it’s kind of a fantastically confused petri dish of an anti-city. If you’re in New York, Brussels, London or Milan, you’re surrounded by a world that has been subdued and overseen by humans for centuries, sometimes for millennia. They’re stable cities; and when you’re in an older city you feel a sense of safety, as if you’re in a city that’s been, and being, well looked after. You feel like most well-established and conventional cities know what they’re doing. L.A., on the other hand, is constantly changing and always seemingly an inch away from some sort of benign collapse.

Nature, with all its empty, otherworldly
expanses, is the
constant, hulking
neighbor to
Los Angeles.

If you look at some of L.A.’s patron saint artists, like Robert Irwin and James Turrell, their work is about the vast, unknowable and at times uncaring strangeness of the world we live in—not the human world, but the natural world. And it makes sense: nature, with all its empty, otherworldly expanses, is the constant, hulking neighbor to Los Angeles. The moment you leave L.A., you’re in a desert that would most likely kill you if you left your water bottle at home. For southern California, humanity is the weird exception, not the rule.

L.A.’s strange environment and contradictions have also shaped the sound of my recent music. My last album, Innocents, is a fairly quiet and domestic record, almost like whistling in the dark in the face of the vast maw. And if I were more of a weird, brave artist—and maybe I’ll do this in the future—I would move out into the desert and let its vastness and uncaringness inform what I’m doing. So far I have made quiet sounds as something of a retreat into my home.

I should admit I have an ulterior motive in promoting L.A. I’m so outspoken about my love for the city because I want my friends to move here. When friends from New York ask me why I moved here, I say, somewhat elusively, “David Lynch lives here, there’s the Museum of Jurassic Technology, rents are relatively cheap, and I can run around outside 365 days of the year. Oh, and there are still recording studios in L.A.” And I’m always sending them real estate listings, especially when they complain about the cost of real estate in New York (in other words: constantly). If the weather is bad in New York in February, I’ll also be a clichéd Angeleno and send them a picture of me outside by the pool. Not just because I’m an asshole and I like shameless Schadenfreude, but also because I think they’d be happier here, especially those who are trying to start families. Even friends of mine who are making very good salaries of $150,000 a year feel dirt-poor when they picture raising kids in New York. My friends who are trying to start families in New York have given up on simple things, like ever having a 50-square-foot backyard for their kids. A good domestic life is simply more attainable here, as L.A has both invented and perfected that strange balance between the suburban and the apocalyptic. But let’s be clear, I have an agenda: I want my friends to join me here so I can sit with them by my pool in February and look at the weather updates for the rest of the Western world and feel smug together.

This piece, commissioned by Creative Time Reports, has also been published by The Guardian.


120 Responses to “Moby: Los Angeles, The First City of the Apocalypse”

  1. nicknormal says:

    I wonder when “Gremlin midnight” happened in Queens, the Bronx, or Staten Island? After all he doesn’t mention any of those boroughs. He mentions Manhattan 4 times, Brooklyn 2 times. Pretty typical of a white, affluent, doesn’t-visit-the-outer-boroughs kind of thinker. The problem with pieces like this is the thought that first, only Manhattan means NY, and second, once Manhattan has been bought up that only Brooklyn then means NY, even “the worst part of” Brooklyn by which he means Williamsburg or Park Slope; or Greenpoint, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, etc. (i.e. he’s clearly not referring to Canarsie, Brownsville, etc.)

    Live here a couple years and have an open mind, and you’ll never need to read these ‘why I left NY’ articles again (I stopped after the 3rd paragraph – I get it). Real life is in Corona, St. George, Riverdale, City Island, College Point. Places he never went.

    • shootmeforspeaking says:

      ny sucks, my friends and i are packing this beetch and heading to sunny SDCA. NY is a dried up well and you have to be dumb to enjoy it… :-)

      • nicknormal says:

        Meh. Lame retort.

        • Ken Manning says:

          Um, dude said he was born on 148th.

          • nicknormal says:

            148th Street, in Harlem, in Manhattan. Thanks for confirmation.

          • shootmeforspeaking says:

            hahah using the word retort in a moby trash talk is lame. Since you are still stuck here, i would assume your “open mindedness” just overlooks all the cool spots and amazing culture NY has. If you are super intelligent, you see the sarcasm in my words. however, you and i both know that you the only one who likes it here. ny is the worst with the super cameras always charging us money for milleseconds to a quick changing yellow light, tolls every 1.8 miles, dead music scene, absurd drink prices, miles of the tightest paved roads… ugh im getting all teary eyed just thinking about it……nawt.

          • nicknormal says:


          • Lumpenmaestro says:

            The point is, once upon a time you could live in Manhattan too, it wasn’t a luxury (at least not everywhere in it). He mentioned Newark. You’re proving his point by rationalizing Corona.
            p.s., the cultural life has dried up here no matter which borough you’re in. Thank everyone who voted for 20 years of plutocracy.

          • nicknormal says:

            If you could live in Manhattan why didn’t everyone in all five boroughs move there? Point is, real life has ALWAYS been about the collective dynamism and consciousness of all FIVE boroughs.

          • dicknormal says:

            You’re just a jerk. Face it.

          • nicknormal says:


          • rJulianz says:

            Yeah, but he grew up in CT.

    • Emily Brookes says:

      Yeah just “live here a few years and have an open mind” as if life lasts an eternity.

    • tgefilms says:

      Well, seeing as how the writer was born there and lived there, at least by my reckoning from his article, 30 years or so – I think that more than qualifies him to have an opinion on the place.

      • nicknormal says:

        So you agree the writer doesn’t give a shit about people in Pelham? or Ozone Park? or Oakwood?

        • tgefilms says:

          First of all, I’m from LA so those neighborhood names are meaningless to me. But it seems like you’re stretching to say because Moby writes an article stating his preference for Los Angeles that somehow means he doesn’t give a shit about some random places in NY no one’s ever heard of.

          • nicknormal says:

            NYC is 303 sq. land miles, over 450 including water territory. Roughly 1/3 less space than LA with more than twice as many people. Those people are important, they have stories, families, lives. Sorry that you want to attack “some random places” and dismiss the dynamic interconnectedness of urban culture. You sound like another whitey, frankly.

          • tgefilms says:

            Ahh so you’re a racist too. You make really make me want to come visit your charming city full of people like you.

          • nicknormal says:

            Yes, as a white male I’m racist towards other white males. Brilliant logic. Have a great life!

          • tgefilms says:

            Seriously, did you forget to take your medication?

          • nicknormal says:

            If you weren’t such a kid coward you’d come out from behind that anonymous veil “tge” – but then you might actually have to take a stand for yourself. Whenever you’re ready, chump.

          • tgefilms says:

            Well, if every New Yorker is as thin skinned, hyper critical and, frankly, loony as you, then I’ll stay right here in Los Angeles. And as for my alleged anonymous veil, I didn’t realize your name was legally “nicknormal.” You must really hate your parents for that.

          • nicknormal says:

            Coward is as coward does.

          • tgefilms says:

            I’m not a coward. You’re just a fruitcake possibly in need of medication. Glad you’re in NY. I mean, Pelham or Ozone Park or Oakwood.

          • nicknormal says:

            “I’m not a coward. *sob* I just want to troll fruitcakes and not let anyone know who I really am.”

      • realposter says:

        there are plenty of stuck up Manhattan-ites that know nothing about the rest of their own city… especially ones that moved to the suburbs in Connecticut and then moved back to Manhattan to be a part of the scene.

      • nicknormal says:

        Furthermore it’s been pointed out that Moby’s upbringing was in Darien, CT; he was only BORN in Harlem, like, popped-out-of-the-womb born. “Well, seeing as how the writer was born there and lived there…” you’re so full of it TGE.

    • kardsufur says:

      people who didn’t even read the article shouldn’t be commenting on it

    • Em says:

      It’s worth noting too that Manhattan is actually the smallest of the 5 boros. Although I love Manhattan and love Brooklyn even more, in neither place do I hear NY accents that often anymore. So I’ll stay in Queens, thank you.

    • BartNY says:

      Although your comment would be appropriate for folks who move to NY (ie Manhattan) and then make the trek to Brooklyn (ie Williamsburg) every so often, cause it’s the trendy place to be, Moby states that he was born in Manhattan. Why would he care what goes on in St. George? Someone who is born and raised in say, Astoria, does not give a f@#k of what happens in Riverdale, St George, Canarsie, or the financial district. Why would we? We have no reason to go there. Hell, I barely know where Ozone Park is. I know Astoria, I know LIC, I know Queens Center Mall, I know Jackson Heights, and I know Flushing and Bayside. That’s my neighborhood. I also know Manhattan below 90th Street (and above Delancey) because that’s the center of our City.

      Each NYer has his own neighborhood. Sure I’ve taken a ride to Staten Island, been around Brooklyn and have visited a friend or two in the Bronx, but I don’t frequent these places and I have no reason to mention them in most conversations.

      Your hating on Moby for not mentioning the other boroughs just kind of turns you into the anti-“Manhattan Douche” Only I don’t see how you can consider a born and bred Manhattanite like Moby a Manhattan Douche – maybe just a local NYer douche like the rest of us.

  2. Nicole Yerkes says:

    /For southern California, humanity is the weird exception, not the rule./
    I love this description and I love the coast-town-ruggedness of southern CA. Being quite near the desert, beach, and mountains all at once taught me that the suburbs I live in are a blip.

  3. LondonCalling says:

    LA is nowhere near as pretty or exciting as NY. Moby will be back to NY in a few years when the novelty of the weather wears off.

  4. tgefilms says:

    “L.A., on the other hand, is constantly changing and always seemingly an inch away from some sort of benign collapse.” I think this line pretty much sums up my feelings on LA. I’ve lived here almost 10 years and still don’t feel like I have a grasp on the place. At times it feels deeply ambivalent, and yet it rewards people who make an effort to explore it, even if the chaos can never truly be understood. I couldn’t live anywhere else.

  5. Keylo Creates says:

    Your reason for writing this piece sums up the problem with L.A. quite well, lack of companionship.

    This may seem funny since New York can be such a cold and lonely place. As anyone who once moved to New York in search of a career can attest, it can be hard to make new friends. We are historically skeptical, sarcastic and brutally honest people who only smile at each other when introduced or when exchanging money for goods. But the greatest contrast is our ability to walk from one place to another. This luxury affords choice. In social settings that could mean having to smile through intolerable conversation until the rest of your ride is ready to bounce versus setting out in search of different views. Coincidentally this forces the native, vehicle bound to develop an endurance for anything whilst maintaining a pleasant outward appearance. A colleague once summed this up nicely.. “in L.A. people smile in your face and stab you in the back while in New York they just stab you”, (as he repeatedly gesticulated toward my ribs).

    One might think that the latter would be less enticing but once you develop the taste for honesty it is hard to immerse yourself in a place where amateur porn makers, mediocre rappers and pre-pubescent pop stars are royalty. A city that attracts like minded go-getters and makes for TERRIBLE conversation at social functions. But that is just this New Yorker’s experience. If you are lucky enough to amass a like minded crew I’m sure it could be a nice place to be. Just remember to moisturize because that lack of humidity will age you like the Oval Office.

    Good luck Moby.

    • Marty Jared says:

      Ha! I like that quote. “In L.A. People smile in your face…….” Consider it added to my laundry list of borrowed quotes. As you can see from what I just posted in response to this, I found some good people in Los Angeles, a lot of them New Yorkers, but this quote and a lot of what you wrote is not that far off base.

    • Jimmy says:

      In LA you choke on the smog, in NY you choke on the smug.

    • hmm says:

      I don’t believe all New Yorkers are smug, but you’re not helping things by perhaps knowingly fitting into the stereotype through your response. I think this article and your opinion both do LA and NYC a disservice. The friends I’ve made from both cities are neither fake nor “skeptical, sarcastic and brutally honest.” In calling out those traits, you are just speaking for yourself and the people you surrounded yourself with.

      As for your point that “amateur porn makers, mediocre rappers and pre-pubescent pop stars are royalty” in LA, I think you’re just seething at a perception that embodies America as a whole.

      If you don’t like the state of America’s obsession with superficiality and mainstream pop culture, that’s fine. Just don’t put the blame on LA. And don’t subtly compliment New Yorkers either by essentially portraying yourselves as brave enough to lay down the truth while others hide behind fake smiles.

      • Keylo Creates says:

        I don’t believe all new yorkers are smug either so you must be responding to Jimmy. My reply stated that we are “historically” skeptical, sarcastic and brutally honest. To try to dispute that is to attempt to re-write the past. For you to think that the only time we experience such character is in deciding which people to surround ourselves with makes me question whether you might be writing this from the inside of a deprivation chamber.. or a traffic jam.

        Seeing as where the bulk of inane celebrity reportage occurs and is distributed from L.A. it is hard not to blame the city for our country’s superficial obsession. It’s like asking us to blame bullets but not guns and certainly not gun manufacturers. If an altercation occurs and no one is shooting, there is no news.

        My surrounding environment was not my decision to make but I obviously do not see owning the stereotype as a bad thing. Sorry if that came across as subtle, I thought the knifing analogy was pretty direct. We both have our faults but we can only accept our immediate reality and try to better it, which I believe to be the extent of Moby’s quest. I apologize for not praising his daring departure as I agree with his theories. My well wishes toward his new found adventure were genuine.

        I hope he finds those friends.

    • Pete Davis says:

      “One might think that the latter would be less enticing but once you develop the taste for honesty it is hard to immerse yourself in a place where amateur porn makers, mediocre rappers and pre-pubescent pop stars are royalty. A city that attracts like minded go-getters and makes for TERRIBLE conversation at social functions. ”

      You are the worst. Please, never visit LA. The good parts would be wasted on you.

  6. Lisa Bloom says:

    I love you Moby. And I moved from NYC to LA first.

  7. alissainwndrlnd says:

    I have to say that I disagree with much of the piece, starting with the fact that perhaps HE was disconnected from the artists, musicians, and culture-drivers and creators in the city…but that doesn’t mean they aren’t here. In fact the artist collectives, the small DYI venues and initiatives about NYC just as much, if not more than LA, though they may be harder to find among the Times Square hubbub. His LA “failures” example falls flat, listing people failing who already have established reputations to precede them. And I’m sure the multitude of NY entrepreneurs, artists, actors, dancers, etc. who have failed and yet resiliently remain committed to making it in this city. I don’t disagree that the city is corporate, and driven by success … but failure, and the struggle to succeed, is an integral part of this city, and in my opinion, much more so than LA could ever provide. And the “vast, unknowable and at times uncaring strangeness of the world we live in” that he quotes as LA artists addressing, I’d say is a topic for many NY artists, despite the different landscape that inspires them. As someone who spent 8 years in LA, I can comfortably say that life in LA is great (I LA), but is also easier on many dimensions than in NY. But that’s the beauty of the big apple … and why the hoards will keep streaming to make it in the big apple.

  8. jonathanzacharias says:

    nyc sux. so does la. progressives destroy everything they touch. socialism is slavery.

  9. Matt Estrada Den Hague says:

    Fatuous. “If you’re in New York, Brussels, London or Milan, … They’re stable cities; and when you’re in an older city you feel a sense of safety, as if you’re in a city that’s been, and being, well looked after.” Is this to be taken seriously? London is highly unstable, constantly dangerous, with little sense of safety except in the established halls of global finance. On the other hand, and possibly because of its insecurity, London is a place where those craving new starts can feel welcome. Similar to some of the arguments made here.

    • ChrisLoos says:

      London is crushingly expensive. My friends that still live there live so far out in the burbs that they have to endure 45 minute tube ride, which also happen to be crushingly expensive. The London artists I know moved to Berlin 10 years ago.

      • Matt Estrada Den Hague says:

        Very true – my comments refer to other (quite lengthy) sections of the article that the author uses to paint other global cities as benign and embracing. the facts are quite different from what’s asserted here. that’s all i’m saying.

    • ottova says:

      I think the point was different. LA is home to non-human man-eating predators and other native flora and fauna that can and will kill you under proper circumstances. Also, stone is a far more common construction material in those cities, which make them feel more permanent. Buildings are young in LA and rarely last. Seismic activity is a continual threat, although nowhere in the league of Tokyo. However, one big earthquake and three days without water in the routine 100 degree plus heat means adios gringo. The natural environment continuously reminds you that you are not welcome here and could only survive in the thinnest numbers without a massive and continuously maintained technological edifice.

      • Jesse Fannan says:

        I’m a third generation LA native. We do NOT have routine 100 degree heat in LA. You might get a couple heat waves during the summer that approach those temps in the valley and far east LA, but it generally stays in the 80’s most of the time. I think the gringo’s and any other Angelenos will be just fine.

        • ottova says:

          Spoken like a true LA gringo who has no idea where the city boundaries actually lie. No worries, City Hall suffers from this same delusion and insists many neighborhoods are not part of the city. Studying the actual boundaries of the city as seized by William Mulholland is not required to become an apparatchik within the bowels of LA government. On the other hand, you can expect most of the basin to start running around like crazy ants when the lights don’t come on and nothing flows out of the tap for lack of that knowledge.

  10. Ryan Adair says:

    I live in Brooklyn – and have for over 10 years.

    I think the comments in response to this article are so typical of New Yorkers – always so quick to react and defend the amazingness of their city (and their decision to live there). The only people that think it’s a ‘my city vs. your city’ situation are New Yorkers. Always wordsmithing the shit out of commentary in order to prove some sort of larger intellectual point (because NYC makes you smarter, right?).

    It’s a city of transplanted rich kids, posers and masochists that suffer to pay rent and still feel so proud to tell their parents they’re ‘making it’ in NYC (*single tear – that’s my son – in NYC!). There is no joy anymore in ‘surviving’ New York.

    • Eric Schwartz says:

      Demons on both coasts. NYC artists are being crushed under the weight of the influx of cash. You can’t afford to fail there. You can’t even afford to succeed there on a less than impressive scale. Boroughs, sure, but then why bother being in NYC? Plenty of cheaper suburbs in the world. Great place to live if you have the cash.

      LA is a movie set built on a quasi-desert. All sun, no fresh water. A race to the top of the studio-sacntioned vapidity pile. Pockets of thought surrounded by mobs of me-feeders. But the rent’s cheap.

      • scottbashaw says:

        What’s the average rent for a House in LA area?,…thanks

      • PrinceGeorge says:

        The grass is always greener, isn’t it? Every place has its pros and cons, as you pointed out. Unfortunately, however, every place doesn’t have its fair share of intelligent people who will understand the message in your reply! But good points and I like your description of LA!

    • realposter says:

      oh please – every city defends itself… If someone writes an article saying they left Mobile, Alabama for Austin you’d get comments on it (though obviously not as much since there are less ppl there).

    • Guest says:

      I live in New York.

      I prefer it to other large American cities for the following reasons: walkability/density, cultural access, wealth of talent for collaboration, Central Park.

      On the negative sides: expense, trash (EVERYWHERE), stench, rudeness, vulgarity, slovenliness, noise, lack of trees, narrow sidewalks (downtown), overly transient renter/student culture (at least in Manhattan) which erodes a sense of community, too many people with sense of entitlement, aggression, status-seeking, social climbing, materialism. I could go on. It’s hell in its own way, but so is everywhere else.

  11. brintzenborg says:

    The Northeast will start looking mighty nice when the Southwest runs out of water.

    • ChrisLoos says:

      We won’t. Lockheed Martin accidentally discovered that you can do cheap desalination with graphene. They thankfully published a paper on it rather than sitting on the information and trying to profit from it. Google it.

      • brintzenborg says:

        And where are these large-scale graphene desalination plants being built? There is one plant that I am aware of being developed, and that’s in Carlsbad. The high desert infrastructure of So Cal can not – and will not – sustain the population currently living there over the long term. Meanwhile, prepare for sticker shock on your water bill.

    • ottova says:

      Water bills determine where you live?

  12. Jonesy says:

    Couple things – IMO:
    He writes, “with urban and suburban and wilderness existing in fantastic chaos just inches away from one another” referring to LA – this couldnt be further from the truth. LA is sprawling and the traffic makes reaching these places that are “inches” nearly impossible within a reasonable amount of time.
    Secondly, once could argue that the price of HOMES is cheaper in LA, however my recent Craigslist search for RENTING an apt really didnt strike me as “cheap”. (with the exception of the Valley perhaps).

  13. Marty Jared says:

    It’s funny how this op-ed found its way into my news feed on my first day back in NY after an eight year stretch in Los Angeles. Now, after reading your piece, I find myself with emotions I didn’t expect, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Allow me to elaborate. For the entirety of my stay in Los Angeles, I wore my NY on my sleeve both literally and figuratively. 90% of the clothing I wore had a Yankee logo or were bought at Brooklyn Industries. I don’t even like BK Industries, but they have a decent selection of clothing that said, or displayed some form of NY pride. I oozed NY. The Indian name given to me by friends that were then people that I had just met, and are now family, was “Walks With Purpose” due to my NY stride. Maybe I was a little too arrogant about my hometown, maybe not, who’s too judge? People should represent their hometown… Especially if it’s the Big Apple. Now on to L.A.

    I absolutely LOVE L.A. Then my first October in the City of Angeles happened. I started to feel something that I had never felt. I couldn’t even tell you what it was until the following year… Homesick. That’s exactly what it was. The weather in New York, love it or hate it, plays a pivotal role in how one feels throughout the year in Gotham. So there I was, in Venice, Ca, which I now call my second home, and every year, around the same time, I would get almost debilitatingly homesick. I missed N.Y. every single day of the year, but once October hit, it was bad. Depressing even; and it would stay that way through February before my emotions would fully stabilize. Sure, I took the obligatory “look at me! You’re shoveling snow and I’m wearing shorts and sandals.” photographs, but in reality, I was missing the snow. After a few years it became second nature. I would expect it, roll with it, and find ways cope, i.e. watch a lot of movies that took place in the north east during the appropriate time of the year.

    Regarding your opinion on failure. I’m not sure that the rinse and repeat nature of attempting to succeed can be geographically tied down. I find that no matter where I am, people are trying, failing and trying again. People are failing and disappearing in markets other than New York. I have a number of good friends that L.A. has eaten alive and now they are in less glamorous places starting over. Shit, myself included. I was in artist management with a focus on tour marketing, new media and radio before becoming a casualty of the exponential downsizing of the music business. After two plus years of trying to bounce back, and simultaneously reaching an all time low in my personal life as well as my professional life, I decided it was time for a change. Not that I necessarily wanted to change, but I could not continue on the path that I was heading; it was looking pretty bleak. That change was dynamic and included various areas of my life, not only professional, geographic location was an important part of that change. So here we go! Back to the New York Groove!

    Finally, relating to your comment about Newark and it’s proximity to the City, I concur. Though I never would have prior to living in Los Angeles. However, after experiencing the traffic of Los Angeles, a 20 minute train ride to the 15 minute subway ride will be a piece of cake. Beneficial even, I can read and write on a train. Well, sometimes you can read and write on the 405, but I wouldn’t recommend it. So here I sit, taking a break from unpacking and shoveling the drive to write this response, in my two bedroom rental on Long Island. Rent is on par with SoCal, cost of travel the equivalent of car payment + gas + insurance, I’m feeling inspired to engage this next chapter of my life, and now ‘here comes Moby’ with an opinion that comes packaged with ‘the rub’. Remember these “emotions I didn’t expect” that I mentioned in the first paragraph? Well, here it is…. I have to find a way to be bi-coastal because your piece made me homesick for L.A.

    • SaintMarx says:

      “It’s funny how this op-ed found its way into my news feed on my first day back in NY after an eight year stretch in Los Angeles.” Probably not funny at all; the Internet is reading you far more than you are reading it…

    • Prince George says:

      Well said and well written. Thank you for sharing. Many of us out here can relate!

  14. John Robert Hector says:

    jack the knife comment was right one the mark and poetry in motionaka difff between lala land and nyc pycho narrissictic pounce and catch 22

  15. JJ Gittes says:

    Third generation Angeleno here—if you East Coast transplants think the rent is cheap now, you should have seen it 10—20 years ago before you all decided to move here. You don’t think gentrification is displacing folks the same way it did in Manhattan? Well, you’re just not paying attention. Look at Echo Park, Highland Park, and Boyle Heights. Stay out of LA.

    • ChrisLoos says:

      Not to mention DTLA. Just yesterday on the DTLA Facebook group, people were complaining about landlords raising rent by $500 before the first year lease was even up. Buy and buy QUICK.

      • DTLA is a downright depressing sight now. It’s slightly ironic that it’s quickly going the way Manhattan went. Beautiful old buildings being stripped to insanely priced lofts and apartments in their place

        • ottova says:

          I never thought I’d miss skid row until I saw the gringo immigrant kids come in and obliterate it almost overnight. I try not to fetishize the poor and sick, but they were better neighbors and provided a better sense of community than the new arrivals; even if the new arrivals look more like me. Symbolically, many of the cops feel the same way. I hope Newark and Detroit can learn from our mistakes.

  16. gemmyny says:

    One thing I like about NYC is the walking, you can walk from 168th street down to East 8th street and experience different neighborhoods, you can move from the east village to the upper west side and its like moving into a different city… poor and rich walk side by side.. La does not offer that.

  17. 157HudsonRollerz says:

    hey Moby,

    i’m an old skool NASA kid from back in the day who also made the move to LA from the east coast. i too miss the old NYC and agree with your assessment of Los Angeles. let’s do lunch!

  18. CCC says:

    you can all go ahead and move back to where you came from. los angeles doesn’t need you to make it cool. im in agreement with whoever said stay out. that goes for moby and boo on creative times for publishing this.

  19. RIP says:

    Moby is alive still?

  20. DWH says:

    I love Moby. I’m a native. I love L.A. Please stay away.

  21. Neil Navani says:

    Something I wrote on the topic of LA vs. NY:

    • TaimeDowne says:

      I read your piece and you are VERY wrong about one thing which MOST New Yorkers are wrong about:

      That NYC has better Chinese food

      You have *GOT* to be kidding me! Head out of your Hollywood enclave and visit the San Gabriel Valley sometime.

  22. Fiftyseven says:

    I guess this means Moby got rid of the place in Carmel – good move!

  23. BeliTsari says:

    Yeah, sure… turn Newark into the next hipster nightmare? People living in Newark NEED 30-times higher living expenses. Everybody move to Lafayette and Breaux Bridge… NOW!

  24. olen says:

    Is something wrong with me that I don’t really care about anyone’s opinion about anything anymore? Or has subjectivity disappeared?

  25. Daniel Bryant says:

    i’m glad Moby gave a little shout out to atlanta. we’re no NY or LA but we’ve got a burgeoning film industry and tons of artists and creative types in spots like west midtown and little five points, plus our street art is pretty wild. however, our midtown and buckhead areas seem to be reaching similar fates as they continue to become more urban and ritzy, squeezing out middle and lower class people with $4000 rents. i’m not sure what the answer is, but i hope we don’t ever become as inaccessible as manhattan has become.

  26. Jessetr says:

    The reason we don’t move to Newark is because it smells really bad.

    • ottova says:

      Well, so does El Segundo; but that really doesn’t stop people from paying insane amounts of money to live there. Personally, I find Newark has its charms: but I’m often fond of areas which lack white people.

  27. ottova says:

    Honest Moby, I think 98% of NYC would move to LA if they could shack up in your digs. A big enough pile of cash makes living in most places relatively easy.

  28. ottova says:

    Native New Yorkers who move to LA have an overwhelming desire to endlessly pontificate about NYC-LA dualism. Same goes for San Franciscans who move to LA. Native Angelenos don’t because their sun-drenched brains are usually clogged with ephemera more important to them: the surf report, the traffic report, the latest taco hotspots, how to avoid tourists, et al. Angelenos aren’t interested in the debate because, most of them, really don’t know the rest of you exist. Even if they did, they wouldn’t understand why they should care one way or another because what does that have to do with the surf report, the latest taco hotspots, et al.

    • TaimeDowne says:

      I assume you were trying to insult Angelenos, but as someone born and raised here (although I did live 5 years in SF) I take it as a compliment!

  29. Duke Mushroom says:

    I hear you Moby! I moved! Valley Village and, remember trees? And a revelation for a New Yorker called a “2 car garage”. Conflicted about having to drive everywhere after not needing to own a vehicle for 20 years, but other than that, your take on NYC/LA is spot on.. Bless

  30. Travelingbeachdream says:

    Great article! I live in LA and I totally agree with you about the nature. I visit the ocean everyday and think about how awesome it is to live here. In NY it was hard to see the sunset by the ocean.

  31. Comeonman says:

    You guys know Moby grew up in Darien, Connecticut right? That first sentence is VERY carefully worded.

  32. Jeffrey Fina says:

    Your article reminded me to hold the line on my decision to be a creative north on NYC where I live now. I have had fervent debates on City vs Suburb and this article reminds me that creativity needs room to fail and breath. I think the point should be made that a solid financial foundation allows for more room to breath and focus. As moby, I am sure this is part of your life as well, but not as much as say, someone like myself with a small family with bills. Id not be able to do what I do without my particular circumstances. Creativity needs room to fail which simply means the ability to regain consciousness after it does. And shameless plug: move up north to Orange County! Stay away from west!

  33. Dan says:

    Favorite line…If the weather is bad in New York in February, I’ll also be a clichéd Angeleno and send them a picture of me outside by the pool. Not just because I’m an asshole and I like shameless Schadenfreude, but also because I think they’d be happier here, especially those who are trying to start families. (yes Moby, you just proved you actually are an asshole)

  34. Graham Coreil-Allen says:

    Moby’s critique of NYC is entirely valid, but moving to LA for more space and backyards is unsustainable. Peak oil is going to render vast swaths of LA and the rest of America’s low-density suburban neighborhoods relatively uninhabitable. A new economy of recycling ranch homes for materials to densify the soon-to-be-crucial pedestrian centers will emerge. Cities with pre existing, mixed-use urban infrastructure, such as Baltimore and other other older locales, will be the first to succeed.

  35. your mom says:

    “Los Angeles captures that strange, exciting and at times delusional American notion of magical self-invention.”

    Got the delusional part correct ya friggin doink

  36. SaintMarx says:

    I live in New York. I do not love New York.

    I prefer it to other large American cities for the following reasons: walkability/density, cultural access, wealth of talent for collaboration, Central Park.

    On the negative sides: expense, trash (EVERYWHERE), stench, rudeness, vulgarity, slovenliness, noise, lack of trees, narrow sidewalks (downtown), overly transient renter/student culture (at least in Manhattan) which erodes a sense of community, too many people with sense of entitlement, aggression, status-seeking, social climbing, materialism. I could go on. It’s hell in its own way, but so is everywhere else.

  37. […] that. An image doesn’t change. It doesn’t move. It’s static. On his well-known and public agenda on getting his east coast friends to move to LA and join him. Moby: It’s working. This winter has […]

  38. horriblekitty says:

    LA has cheap rent? I guess maybe if you are Moby it’s cheap…

  39. Mr. Shadow says:

    People on the East and West Coasts have strange problems. Thank God for the Midwest.

  40. Brandon McKimmons says:

    Never thought I’d see such a defined NY’er sing the praises of LA… I dunno if Los Angeles is the bestest place ever but it’s pretty great with tons of great places to eat from fine dining to taco trucks, lots of stuff to do like parties, shows, art exhibits, etc. and you’re literally minutes away from China-Japan-Filapino-Jewish-Mexican-Armenian-towns or sections of the city. Then there’s the beach and the desert and even the mountains if you trek an hour or so to Big Bear or something.

  41. Gina Johnson says:

    In LA you choke on the smog, in NY you choke on the smug.

  42. Russell Scott Day says:

    Stick to visual art, you’re not a particularly good writer. Live where you have a job, was something I used to say. I lived all over Manhattan, with a short 6 months of Flatbush. On Grand Ave in Jersey City I was attacked by a pack of crack addicts, run down to fending them off with a piece of two by four. I can’t run anymore. I’m not dead yet, but it won’t be long. Small things happen in small places, big things happen in big places. Doesn’t matter what you do for a paycheck really, art is harder than it looks, but there is some job security since written formulaic instructions only enrich the copycats and forgers of China. I miss NYC. “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” John Dos Passos, The Big Money.

  43. Reality Cheque says:

    “Moby paid just under $4 million for the house last year and estimates he
    has put another $2 million into its restoration.”

  44. phoebesnowden says:

    Why does Moby try so hard to hide the fact that he was raised in Darien, CT?

  45. Fangorn says:

    NYC stopped being the creative mecca of the US by the late 00s. In order for creativity to blossom, artists from a wide variety of backgrounds need to be able to live in close proximity and not have to work their asses off to get by. The way NYC is designed and the high cost of living now means artists are increasingly split up. They’re going to be pressured into pursuing corporate type jobs utilizing their skills because they need to make a living. The NYC job market is full of workaholic overachievers, so that will become their life. Those that can afford to be free to do what they want are most likely from a wealthy family (plenty of that in NYC), which distorts that aspect of the art world in New York. NYC is now the yuppie mecca. What people think of as “hipsters” in Brooklyn are themselves essentially yuppies who are just following clothing and music trends.

    Newark has an artist community, but it’s not quite as convenient as Moby makes it out to be. For one, it’s in the opposite direction of Brooklyn. All the alternative types living in Brooklyn aren’t just going to pack their bags and make Newark the new cool spot. Even if they did, it’d quickly become just as expensive. Secondly, it’s a lot less safe than most of Brooklyn and there are still other areas of Brooklyn that artists are moving to.

    LA has its own issues. When the weather is nice in New York, I’m guessing fewer people consider moving to LA. It’s just this time of year when people question why they’re paying so much to live in a city with single digit temps and sidewalks covered in dirty ice when there are numerous more affordable cities with milder weather to choose from. If you’re sick of living in small spaces, the winters, the hot and humid summers, but still want to live in a large, important, diverse city, LA is the first city that comes to mind. If you’re okay with a smaller city, then there are plenty more options that also attract artists.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Newsletter