Foreword By Stan Lerner: When my intern told me she was going to keep me posted on her trip to London, I told her I might just post her letters on downtownster — now she won’t stop sending them. I never paid much attention to the youth of America, unless I was dating one of them, but I’m starting to like some of these kids. Ugh! So, read what Kate has to say. It’s not such a bad way to start off the week.
Leaving the sun of LA for the pastiness of a London winter would seem like the idea of a masochist, right? But despite the harsh weather, the appeal of London does not diminish with the daylight. Instead, the city offers the culture of Europe, without the shock of not knowing the language. In this town, the EU meets the US in the most harmonious of hybrids. When thinking of Britain, “diversity” definitely isn’t the first word that comes to mind. It is far more likely that the idea of the Queen and her court, all pristine English roses, would be conjured rather than a melting pot that gives the US a run for its’ money. London is comprised of various areas all boasting its own unique vibe. For instance, the hipster set of East London probably wouldn’t have much in common with the posh Kensington crew, and the bankers in the City would definitely want to avoid the punks up in Camden Town. But it is the diversity of London that makes it so great… it has something for literally everyone. Sure New York never sleeps, and Los Angeles never rains, but London can never be defined. Maneuvering between these distinct regions of this great city, however, does offer some obstacles. An LA girl by nature, I find public transportation completely foreign. And given my innately feminine sense of direction (ie- no way in f***k do I ever know which way is North), to say I have no handling of the London bus system would be way too magnanimous. Getting from place to place via tube is simple enough, but the bus system is just something I can never quite wrap my head around–an obvious detriment given that the London underground closes at the early hour of midnight and if I’m out past that it is usually because I’m doing something that requires heels, not the most strategic choice for wandering around looking for the N9 bus to get me from the Nightlife in SOHO to my Real Life in South Kensington. Now I know that revealing such a weakness to a boss is not the Smartest idea I’ve ever had, but I hope you can forgive this one flaw and realize that this Achilles’ heel gives me copious amount of writing material. I mean really, you have no idea the characters I have met in pursuit of Public Transport. For instance, just last night as I was on the Tube heading from one exciting club to the next, this Goth (yes, there are a few of them left, despite the belief that their status ended with the millennium) with a boom box was playing some thug rap. Now I’m all about Kanye and Jay-Z, but this was cheesy hip hop circa 1998 (given the Goth who was blasting it, I think he must have not gotten the Y2K memo, and was still waiting to party like it’s 1999). I simply had to make a request. Whipping out my iPod, I demanded some Stones be played, which was much more innocuous than the sh*t he was booming, and much more appropriate considering the choice was made by an American in London. Things did take a turn for the worse, however, when the guy began to go on a rant about the downfalls of Scientology and the greediness of cults. Yeah, the boombox definitely concealed his hidden, anti-Tom Cruise agenda.Though I was able to leave the Marilyn Manson on the underground (a place that he seemed uncomfortably comfortable in), the 90’s music remained an omnipresence for the rest of the night, though thankfully in much more enjoyable incarnations. The Backstreet Boys, Violent Femmes, Hanson, just to name a few, were all the rage at The Roxy for their usual Friday night nostalgia theme. High on life, the night was an absolute success-a consequence of my usual Jack and Diet Coke (I add the “Diet” just to de-butch my drink of choice just a bit, and, who the f**k am I kidding? I’m from LA) and the universally appreciated music selection. But having a fun time in SOHO is pretty hard to avoid. The place is jam packed with bars and clubs that cater to a myriad of types: punks can seek refuge in Crobar’s dark booths, the more low-key can rely on Madame Jojo’s for their renowned live music venue, and Punk provides the likes of Kate Moss with their velvet rope, and a playlist that is the choice of the more image-conscious hipster set (think Morissey, The Cure, and obscure contemporary songs that only the most devotedscenester could identify). The prominence of SOHO’s nightlife is definitely a result of its past life as London’s red-light district. And while the prostitutes may have cleared the streets, those seeking fun (and possibly a shag) are still consistently present until the wee hours of the morning. So there you go, boss, just a glimpse of the life I am leading in London. I know that living vicariously is really the intention of the assignment, but just know that even though I’m “living the dream” while living the life of an expatriate, I still remain your loyal intern: entirely obligated to pursue insanely envy inducing experiences, simply for the sake of my blog. Get ready, Boss, because next weekend, this travel enthusiast is doing Berlin.
Your dedicated and humble intern,