I just did a 2.5-day touchdown in LA, my first visit to what Bertolucci called "The Big Nipple." I'm an East Coaster from way back and I don't know that I could ever quite settle in to the lifestyle there. It's several cities in one, and each mini-city has its own secrets; I can't imagine ever really feeling that I was home enough there to learn what the city is *really* about.
What struck me most is that there are hidden worlds in LA, things aren't marked by signs. The best parties are behind unmarked doors, the hottest clubs are discreetly located, the best houses are in the enclaves on the hills. You can't go looking for things, you need to know someone who knows where to look. There's as much, if not more, going on in LA as there is in a city like New York, but you can't see it driving up and down the miles-long avenues. LA, in it's street-to-street driving experience, does not offer terribly interesting scenery, it's a lot of shopping strips and storefronts. Yes, you can see the La Brea tar pits, the exceptional Disney performance hall and some vestiges of old Hollywood, or stumble into the manicured streets of Beverly Hills.
But you will spend most of your time in a car. It's like being in a province of Spain, not a walking city.
When I am in a city for a couple of days I find a station on the radio and leave it there. In Nashville, I hit a country station and let it play, getting the sound of the town. In LA, I surprised myself by hitting a "soft rap" station, and enjoying it. Not my style and not music I'd be listening to otherwise, but it felt like the right place to be, on my long, long drives.
The sound was friendly, a perpetual party. Songs about drinking, flirting, bars, getting busy and getting funky. It didn't have a 'hard' sound, as I might expect, but an inviting sound with a good beat. At one point, I heard "Da Butt" --- which is a song I was surprised to recognize. It's from Spike Lee's early film SCHOOL DAZE, and I had a cassette tape of the music. This was over 20 years ago (it might very well have been a cover).
It will probably wind up as my default station if and when I need to go back in future years. Part of "My LA".....