New York Standard Units (NYSU)

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If you live in Southern California but frequently deal with those who don’t, you’ll find that there is a certain degree of confusion that comes with explaining what exactly you do with your life. At the superficial level, most easterners don’t really grasp city life without tall buildings; and at the professional level, they don’t get a media economy that’s basically the world’s last white collar apprentice system.

In short, most people seem to expect that your life is spent either (1) re-enacting Beach Boys songs; or (2) doing cocaine with Lindsay Lohan. When these expectations aren’t met, confusion sets in.

Never fear. As was stated years ago in Stuff White People Like, “if you ask a white person about where to travel, you will get a lot of responses. But if you ask them about New York, white people will go nuts. They love the city universally and all either live there, have lived there, will live there or want to live there.”

This observation gets to the heart of today’s essay: If you can characterize Southern California as if it were New York, most of your privileged friends will at least pretend to know what you’re talking about.

So with that in mind, here’s a conversion table to characterize your LA experience in New York terms; or better put, to describe these things in New York Standard Units (NYSU).

New York


Los Angeles

la palms

  • Having brunch in SoHo
  • Getting drinks in WeHo
  • Assiduously Avoiding Times Square
  • Judging people at Hollywood & Highland
  • Thinking Williamsburg is over
  • Thinking Eagle Rock is the shit
  • Having a place in the Hamptons
  • Having a house in Malibu
  • Latenight pizza
  • Drunk tacos
  • Anchioves for toppings
  • Lengua for meat
  • “Buy side or sell side?”
  • “Agency or studio?”
  • “He’s got his own hedgefund”
  • “She has a show on air.”
  • A rent controlled apartment in the Village
  • A leased BMW 3-series
  • Custom shirts
  • Custom headrests
  • Brother Jimmy’s
  • Surly Goat
  • Guido Guys
  • Valley girls
  • Being from Greenwich
  • Being from Newport
  • Being an MD
  • Being a producer
  • Happy hour
  • Drinks
  • Uptown
  • The Hills
  • Brooklyn
  • The East Side
  • West Chester
  • Pasadena
  • New Jersey
  • The Valley
  • “Have you seen Molly?”
  • “Let’s go to Vegas.”
  • The subway from the Lower East Side
  • The freeway from Venice
  • The growing food scene in Queens
  • The growing tech scene in Playa
  • Drinking with your underage cousin on 2nd Ave
  • Drinking with your underage cousin on Santa Monica Blvd
  • Bruce Springsteen on the Jersey Turnpike
  • Tom Petty on Mulholland Dr
  • Billy Idol’s sexuality
  • Stevie Nix’s spirituality
  • The Godfather
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met Sally
  • Rodeo Drive in Pretty Woman
  • The fact that Sinatra music is oddly fresh
  • The fact that grunge rock didn’t go out of style
  • Refusing to eat Italian food in the Midwest
  • Judging people who put cheese on their tacos
  • Flower stands
  • Fruit carts
  • Shake Shack
  • In-N-Out
  • Jaime Dimon
  • Bob Iger
  • David Einhorn
  • Aaron Kaplan
  • MF Global
  • Resolution
  • Reservations at PDT
  • Skipping the line at Bungalow
  • Convincing yourself that Murray Hill is cool
  • Telling yourself that Culver City is on the West Side
  • Having a conceptual understanding of New Jersey
  • Visiting the Wikipedia page for San Bernadino
  • Dressing your kids in J. Crew
  • Thinking that Lululemon is business casual
  • The smell of garbage in the summer
  • The smell of marijuana on the weekend
  • Your taxi driver’s presumed treachery
  • Your Lyft driver’s annoying small talk
  • Snitty Ivy League intellectual superiority
  • Smug Left Coast moral superiority
  • That time Steven Cohen went to court
  • That time Mel Gibson went to rehab
  • Missing the easy money and harmless drugs of the ’80s
  • Missing the easy money and harmless drugs of the ’80s

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