THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Boston vs. LA

Critical Mass.

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Alan Mittelstaedt
Globe Correspondent / 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.

It's January and you're driving your BMW convertible down the Pacific Coast Highway, with the beach stretching on forever on one side and the bluffs of Malibu on the other, and the iPod screaming the latest tunes of one of LA's dozen hot bands. The top's down, you're catching some rays, and when you arrive at your destination, you aren't frozen stiff like someone who's suddenly fallen out of favor with the big guy, James "Whitey" Bulger.

Boston has three celebrities - Tom Brady, Tom Brady, and Tom Brady. Our response: dull, dull, dull. But you're obsessed with the man and have set up a cottage industry to monitor his moves and snoop around to find out his romantic connections. In LA, no one but his neighbors would notice. Yes, he's a great quarterback, but hardly so interesting that he could even hold his own on some of the wait lists at LA's most exclusive restaurants.

You talk funny. We're the ones without an accent. Your vowels are so mangled that we sometimes think you're trying to round up cattle when you talk to us. Our theory is that it affects your self-esteem. When you can't lose the accent, desperation sets in, leading to some lax personal habits. You don't take care of yourselves the way Angelenos do. While we visit our plastic surgeons and dieticians to manage the body as a work of art, you're inclined to let yourselves go to seed. It's disgusting.

Your public transportation system is better than LA's. And your zipper lanes are one of the best ways to manage a roadway. The hybrid train-bus Silver Line from Logan to downtown is the stuff of science fiction. But why'd you go and bury your freeway just so you could have more park space downtown? We want a view of the outdoors when we're stuck in traffic. Tunnels should go under rivers, not cities. When traffic stalled on your rickety, elevated steel roadway during rush hour, it reminded us of a broken-down ride at Disneyland.

We feel superior in a laidback way. Rivalries don't register much on our psyche because we know LA stands alone in the stratosphere. If Boston wants a comparable city in California, it would be our "friends" to the north in San Francisco. If we wanted a halfway fair fight, we would take on New York, not its small-time stepsister to the north. Truth is, both San Francisco and New York hate us, call us names like LaLa Land, and say our city lacks a center and sprawls out like a jellyfish on steroids. We don't much care. We love our gritty city. The fact that only longtime residents can begin to understand Los Angeles and its people makes us happy and almost as smug as you.

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