I'm heading home from Denver tonight, and it has been a great trip. But I noticed something.
Compared to Denver, Los Angeles looks like Calcutta. For all I know, Calcutta offers a better quality of life than LA right now. It definitely has a fighting chance.
There is no measure that I can think of except, possibly, weather - and that doesn't count in the San Fernando Valley - where Los Angeles does not totally suck rocks compared to Denver. I'm sure this will be the case in nearly every other urban area outside Southern California - I used to always find things to "like" about LA. There's nothing to like any more. We can thank two decades of "Democrat" rule for that. People are as irrational as hell in LA and will accept just about anything that fits their preconceived "liberal" sensibilities. Yes, I except our friends in the Valley.
LA has its awesome, $ multi-billion nonfunctioning "mass transit" system that few people use, of which its most recent highlight is, as John & Ken put it - the "Goat Train" - or the Metro Gold line running from downtown TO Boyle Heights. Despite the fairly obvious outflux of many "undocumented" individuals that is currently providing slight freeway relief, traffic in areas that lacked heavy "undocumented" populations is as bad as ever or worse. Despite the hard work of the wonderful people who are revitalizing Downtown, Downtown LA is still slightly suckier than downtown . . . pretty much ANY downtown area in any reasonably-sized city I've ever been in. You can't bring people in to an artificial situation such as LA Live and expect it to "thrive." Not when one block away, transvestite prostitutes are running from garbage trucks making their collection runs 2 and 3 days late.
Or, to put it a different way, you can't have a vibrant urban area where the single largest employer is the government. You can't have a vibrant urban area where middle-class (there ARE no middle class people in the LA Basin any longer - again, thank the Democrat rule for that - chasing every possible small- to mid-sized business out) people don't exist, and where the crappiest imaginable housing starts at $800 a month. I'm sure there are horrible, crumbling apartments out there in Denver, but I found nice apartments starting at $500 a month (yeah, 2 bedroom). Which, you can like, be a young couple with normal jobs and handle - right? I mean so you can save money, afford a few amenities, save for a home, etc. Right? Well in LA right now, a young, average couple gets to start out paying around $1,800 a month if they want a two bedroom (think: room with a crib) if they want to live in any remotely decent area. So that is nearly 4 times the amount of money that people could get by with safely and decently in Denver - which is not a poor, depressed area - not by a long shot.
There aren't any businesses closed here, or very few. Furniture stores appear to be doing good business, and there are lots of them - lots of active home improvement stores, too. People do not have the fanciest cars - more American makes and models - obviously more outdoors-capable SUV's, etc. It looks to be one Beemer per 50 to 60 cars, and maybe one Mercedes to every 100. I haven't yet seen a Bentley - well there's two at my apartment complex back home RIGHT NOW.
I don't have to be Stephen Levitt to do a little math to see that overall, Colorado has a less-intrusive government, less taxes, and fewer laws (there doesn't seem to be a helmet law for motorcyclists). They care about their environment here, and do what is important to ensure continued quality of life. There's no lack of "open space." There are plenty of cycling, walking and running, and horseback trails. There is a well-designed transit system that people use - it goes from where people are to where they want to and need to go. There are park-and-ride lots far-flung, on all incoming freeways. There's a vibrant restaurant and food community (more vibrant than LA - or if you think chain steakhouses and Wolfgang Puck clones are great . . .), a music community, an art community, and extremely well-funded - PRIMARILY PRIVATELY FUNDED - I might add - museums and cultural institutions. The two Universities in Denver are so well-integrated into the community that one almost doesn't know where they end and private residences and businesses begin.
Where I noticed this so strongly was the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. This museum is slightly smaller than the California Science Center, but not by much.
First - let me share that the food choice at the California Science Center, where busloads of schoolchildren arrive daily - is McDonalds, and sub-McDonalds-level cafeteria food. At the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, their own cafe is situated in a pleasant atrium area, with nutritious kid-friendly choices including an extremely fresh, high quality salad bar, and a make-your-own sandwich bar. The entire area is very well-designed for families with children. At the California Science Center, the equivalent area accommodates fewer diners, and, located at the lowest level of the museum, is somewhat reminiscent of Dr. G, Medical Examiner's digs (yes, a morgue).
Is this all about food? NO. It's about priorities and care for others. It should go without saying that Denver is clean. I've heard for years from European friends how shockingly filthy California is. American-born nature enthusiasts are not hurling soiled diapers into the foliage 2 miles out on hiking trails along with dumping used Clamato cans . . . this dump in Arizona's Huachaca Mountains makes anything I've seen look like nothing - it's mind-bogglingly huge. American students and volunteers take "vacation breaks" to try to clean up the devastation.
As to the rest of the Denver Science and Nature Museum, it has Body Worlds, and the IMAX Hubble film, which the California Science Center also has. And there, the similarity ends. The Denver Science and Nature Museum has an enormous, fully-interactive space exhibit. A brief examination of their donor walls shows much greater numbers and higher levels of individual and corporate philanthropic support. People have to have something to GIVE TO, you see. And the California Science Center is nearly worthless as far as that's concerned. The only interesting exhibits they have are the traveling ones. The rudimentary nature of their children's interactive areas should be obvious to any, especially repeat, visitors.
Denver's evolutionary or "building up to the Dinosaurs" exhibit is not only complete and accurate, it isn't presented at a 3rd-grade level. A person conversant with natural history would find joy and delight in seeing real fossils, presented in their true context, not missing entire periods of prehistory. The space exhibit is simply amazing. It's been there quite a while and has recently been updated, but let's put it this way - although not extremely large, it presents the space program up to the present day. It presents a broad range of missions, and actual, up to date astrophysics.
Now, the California Science Center has a new exhibit on "ecosystems" and it looks pretty cool. I don't need to visit to know that every single section will end with "proof" of "GLOBAL WARMING." Scientifically, this isn't "cutting edge." They have a big exhibit to show all those busloads of school kids how to be scared of "global warming" and accept the greatly-reduced standards and quality of life that the "global warming" advocates want. If I look back at the 1950's (when I admittedly was not around), they seemed to be obsessed with nuclear destruction or the horrible effects of nuclear radiation. Today, it's "global warming." What happened to real science? Real learning? It's the "Marching Morons" - I've hung out in LA and sat there while the entire city has turned into Marching Morons, over which a few rich elites preside. And not "Hollywood Elite," either. Mel Gibson's getting out of Dodge - and for a 5th generation resident, I never thought I'd say this, but so am I. I'm sure Mayor Reconquista won't mind. But I don't get how it's fun to go to a ballgame where the stadium's crumbling around you. I don't get it at all.