A few weeks ago, I was living in temporary housing: the lower half of a moderately clean and modern duplex on Los Feliz Boulevard. On the day before I was scheduled to clear out and move into my first LA rental, two people knocked on my door in the space of an hour. They both wanted to know if I owned a black Mercedes. I do not. Apparently, a black Mercedes was parked outside the house, and someone had smashed in the driver's side window.

I was touched that people cared enough about a person whose fancy car had been vandalized to walk around asking after the owner. For several reasons, this wouldn't happen in New York. If your Mercedes gets busted into, fuck do we care. You have a Mercedes. We assume you'll come back for it. We also know the thief was gone hours before we saw your dumb car. But let's posit a more empathic witness. What does she do? New York exists more or less vertically. Even though it was originally designed as single-family dwelling, a brownstone in Fort Greene is now an apartment building. You can find a main doorway, but then what? Ring all the buzzers, even if there are just two? No way.

In LA, you can knock on the door of a house and be fairly certain that a person will answer the door and not be cross about it. This brought to mind a friend's assertion that LA is a Midwestern city, temperamentally. I might agree.