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Boston vs. LA

Blah-LA-land

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Mark Shanahan
Globe Staff / June 9, 2008

Boston's rivalry with New York is legendary. Boston's rivalry with Los Angeles? Kind of forgotten. It's been a long while since we've had anyone out there to get all worked up about. Now, with the Celtics-Lakers rivalry renewed and the NBA Finals shifting to the Left Coast, we asked a writer in each city - the Globe's Names columnist Mark Shanahan and alt-weekly editor Alan Mittelstaedt, a former New Englander who writes a column called LA Sniper - to explain why his city is the better one.

Whitey Bulger: All of the great LA gangsters - guys with noir names like Mickey Cohen, Jack Dragna, and Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratianno - are long dead. But Boston bad guy Bulger is still at large, so turn your eyes east, James Ellroy. It's been entertaining to watch the Energizer bunny of the underworld outrun the feds and pop up periodically in Europe with his platinum pal Catherine Greig. We'll be looking for these two fugitives amid all the celebs at the Staples Center.

Patriots: Los Angeles calls itself a city, and it doesn't even have an NFL franchise? Ever since the Rams skipped town in 1994 and headed to St. Louis (huh?), LA has been without a professional football team. (OK, they do have the vaunted Avengers of the Arena Football League.) Meanwhile, over the same period, the Patriots have played in five Super Bowls and won three. We'll take Tom Brady and Randy Moss over the distant memory of Pat Haden and Lawrence McCutcheon any day.

Education: Boston is considered the Athens of America, and for good reason. The place is crawling with eggheads. Harvard and MIT alone have racked up dozens of Nobel Prizes, and filled the op-ed pages of newspapers from coast to coast. By contrast, no one's ever accused LA of being a bastion of brainiacs. Los Angeles boasts USC, the football factory that gave us O.J. Simpson, and UCLA, whose formerly great basketball team has made three consecutive Final Fours and lost each time.

Comedians: Los Angeles is a breeding ground for bad actors and even worse writers - yes, we're talking to you, Tori Spelling and Bret Easton Ellis - but thanks to us, LA's not lacking for funny folks. Local comedians who've made their way from Boston to Burbank include Jay Leno, Denis Leary, Sarah Silverman, Steve Carell, Louis C.K., Lenny Clarke, Conan O'Brien, Adam Sandler, Paula Poundstone, Amy Poehler, and Steven Wright, to name just a few. Sorry, LA. Chris Kattan and Cheech Marin? The joke's on you.

Weather: So what if the weather's lousy in Boston eight months out of the year - at least we have weather. Southern California's climate is so monotonous that June might as well be January. Really, between the smog and the sun-baked blacktop, is it any wonder nobody gets out of their car in LA? And for a place that's supposed to be so chill, the City of Angels sure seems to be in a perpetual state of crisis: wildfires, droughts, and blackouts. Makes Boston's winter parking bans look like fun.

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