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How to be an L.A. local: 8 tips for faking it

By Chris Reed for CNN
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 1133 GMT (1933 HKT)
<strong>Don't be weirded out by Venice Beach.</strong><!-- -->
</br>If every day is like an R-rated variety show overseen by an LSD aficionado -- and in Venice Beach it is -- you deal with it. Calmly. Like this gent. Don't be weirded out by Venice Beach.
If every day is like an R-rated variety show overseen by an LSD aficionado -- and in Venice Beach it is -- you deal with it. Calmly. Like this gent.
Blending in, L.A. style
Sunshine doesn't make the news
Cool is as cool does
Some beers are for tourists
Take sides on important matters
Ignore celebs (sort of)
But bow down for the gods
Take in L.A.'s cultural culinary mashup
  • Dying to be part of the L.A. scene? No? Good, you're already half local
  • Venice Beach is a freak show; that doesn't mean you should freak out there
  • Author says drinking Corona marks you out as a newbie
  • If you see Vin Scully, bow down before him. Or just listen to him call Dodgers game on the radio

Editor's note: This piece, and several others on Los Angeles, complement the CNNGo TV series. This month's show features a food truck tour with filmmaker and actor Jon Favreau, an L.A. fashion icon's guide to shopping like a local and a visit to a bar-arcade where kidults flock for drinks and to play on its 40 restored arcade machines:

(CNN) -- The city of Los Angeles is expecting more than 40 million visitors this year.

If you're among the inbound, you're going to need to do a lot more than leave the heavy coats at home and drop a few "dudes" into your repartee if you don't want to be mistaken for the latest Hollywood wannabe to drop off a turnip truck.

Follow these tips and you just might pass for a local.

If your deception goes well, you can bring your suave Angeleno persona home from vacation and try it out with your locals.

Just don't push it.

Having "I Love L.A." as a ringtone is a little much.

1. Don't mention the weather

The wonderful monotony of not-too-hot, low-humidity days and mild nights is taken for granted.

Weather isn't a topic of conversation -- unless something really weird is happening, like, you know, rain.

No Coronas, please. Unless you\'re Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Even then ...
No Coronas, please. Unless you're Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Even then ...

2. For God's sake, don't order a Corona

Corona is the sort of bland corporate bilge a Budweiser drinker graduates to when he gets his first good job after college, so have a Bohemia or a Negro Modelo instead.

And unless you're auditioning for the role of village idiot, don't ask "when is Cinco de Mayo this year?"

That's been known to happen.


MORE: Jon Favreau: How food trucks became L.A. kings

3. In Venice Beach, don't be nonplussed by anything

If every day is like an R-rated variety show overseen by an LSD aficionado -- and in Venice Beach it is -- you deal with it.

You don't go slack-jawed when you see a five-legged dog relieving himself on a square of grass while mustachioed women and men with elaborate facial tattoos full of typos look on.

4. In Hollywood, show your cool

If you wangle an invitation to a "screener" -- a showing of a completed but unreleased movie for industry types and critics -- be early.

There aren't any trailers.

Seven p.m. means the feature starts at 7 p.m.

Don't be demonstrative or loud.

You're there because you have something to do with the film industry.

This is your job.

Be cool.

Kogi\'s Korean barbecue tacos are just one part of L.A.\'s exploding food truck scene.
Kogi's Korean barbecue tacos are just one part of L.A.'s exploding food truck scene.

5. Eat at a food truck

The food truck scene is amazing and getting more so.

Example: Get Toasted, a truck featuring superb Filipino-Mexican hybrid comfort food, comes along, and its originality and excellence don't even stand out.

MORE: 'Some People Call Me Maurice': Best Los Angeles theme bars

6. Honor the local deities

There are popular Angelenos, there are admired Angelenos.

And then there are the Angelenos who might as well be secular gods, they're so beloved.

The first is warm, witty Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, who has been announcing the team's games since 1950, when the franchise was in Brooklyn.

Scully manages to be funny and insightful without ever being mean.

He's like family to millions of people.

Scully used to be alone on this island of extreme L.A. esteem.

Now he's been joined by Magic Johnson, the sunny former Lakers superstar turned AIDS activist and business tycoon.

Magic is so gracious that he almost seems too good to be true.

He's true.

In a city full of phonies and in a sports world full of arrogant jerks, he easily connects with everyone.

Don't diss Magic.

Or Vin.

Unless you want people to think you're from San Francisco.

They captured three consecutive NBA titles. They captured L.A.\'s heart. Well, one of them did.
They captured three consecutive NBA titles. They captured L.A.'s heart. Well, one of them did.

7. Have an opinion on Shaq and Kobe

If you live in L.A., especially if you're a male able to breathe, you have to have a considered take on Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, the testy NBA duo that brought three consecutive NBA titles to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Their snippy, contentious 1995-2004 run with the Lakers amounts to the "Citizen Kane" of real-life sports psychodramas.

You can be pro-Shaq: Kobe didn't want Shaq to win a fourth NBA Finals MVP in the 2004 matchup with Detroit, so he wouldn't pass to Shaq even though Shaq was being covered by a midget, costing the Lakers the title.

You can be pro-Kobe: Bleep Shaq. If he cared as much as Kobe, the Lakers would have won the Finals every year.

You can be down on both: Shaq coasted on raw physical dominance more than any athlete ever, and yeah, Kobe works hard, but in his heart of hearts, he is me-first.

But for God's sake, don't say, "You know that Shaq and Kobe? They were sure something!"

At least if you're a male able to breathe.

READ: CNNGo in Los Angeles: Hollywood stars, food trucks and bar-cade

8. Be discreet about celebrity sightings

If you're eager to see someone famous, that defines you as a non-Angeleno.

But if you really want a celebrity story to take back home, you can get one a lot more discreetly than by hanging around Nobu or Chateau Marmont and gawking at the patrons.

Instead, go to the fancy Pavilions grocery store on Heathercliff Road in Malibu.

On a Saturday morning, you can't throw a rock without hitting someone who's at least been a regular on a network TV show.

But you might not recognize him or her -- because at Pavilions, unlike Nobu, the celebrities aren't wearing copious makeup.

Chris Reed moved to Los Angeles County in 1990 and has been a Southern California journalist ever since, writing for such newspapers as the Los Angeles Daily News and Orange County Register and appearing dozens of times on "The John & Ken Show" on KFI AM 640 and "AirTalk with Larry Mantle" on KPCC-FM, a PBS affiliate.

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