#SWAAYthenarrative

LA VS NYC: What Kind Of City Girl Are You?

6 Min Read
Lifestyle

As someone who once tried to change her Facebook marital status to “in a relationship with NYC," I've witnessed firsthand how a city can seduce one into blind patronage. Fast forward six adulterous years later, and surprise (even to me), I now find myself living in Los Angeles.


The pleasure— or misfortune— of living in either LA or New York as a modern day woman is the topic of many friendly debates, articles, Yelp reviews, and hearsay bar conversations. More often than not, it's a materialistic battle: tacos vs pizza, Hollywood vs Wall Street, athleisure vs suits... the list goes on and on.

And while the aforementioned criteria do have their place in determining which city ranks superior, the comparison deserves to be much deeper than the superfluous availability of avocado, or the water quality in bagels...

Alas, it seems the simple Buzzfeed question, “Which metropolis is the bestropolis?" is about as easy to answer as the age-old “Pepsi vs Coke" dilemma. It's subjective, a matter of personal taste, and we all secretly know what really tastes better anyways... Kombucha.

Damnit, you can tell I live in LA.

In an effort to spare you my bias (possibly sprinkled subconsciously throughout) I asked 15 badass #WomenWhoSwaay— Angelenas, New Yorkers, transplants, bi-coasters and inbetweeners— to compare the “City that Never Sleeps" with the “City of Dreams," colored by their personal experiences.

Of the hilarious insights shared, ten common categories emerged: the weather, people, vibe, dating, opportunities, lifestyle, transportation, social life, mannerisms and culture.

And with that in mind, I now present to you: a tale of two cities.

1. Siri, what's the weather like today?

“Living in New York for a brief time, I remember waking up every morning to a world of grey… walking to class in the rain and the wind, with 0% chance of having a good hair day. But the sun shines here in LA… A LOT… sometimes too much… but I prefer this." - Rachel S., Digital Media

“Everyone in LA is smug about the great weather and beautiful vistas, but spends all of their time and money bicycling in-place, indoors." - Liz P., Marketing Manager

2. People Be Like

“In New York, a homeless person will spit in your face. In LA, your best friend will spit in your cocktail while you're not looking." - Michelle C., Publicist

“In New York, the people are fun but SOOOO serious – it's like everyone is in such a hurry to go nowhere, it looks like they need a good cry… and they're all in suits. But in LA, the people are legitimately insane, which may be from too much sun or maybe too many dreams. It's cute, but it's crazy." - Rachel S., Digital Media

“LA people take the time to enjoy life. NY people would never survive without 5 Hour Energy." - Vanessa H., Finance

3. Do you get my vibe?

“L.A. is very much 'fuck yeah' and bright colors...NYC is all 'fuck this, fuck that, fuck you, fuck the horse you rode in on' and cigarette smoke grey." - Cydney T., 26 Investment Services

“NYC is all about intellect; it's sexy to be a brooding artist, surviving on coffee without time to eat. Dark bags under your eyes paired with high-end clothes is considered chic. In Los Angeles, you can just invert that. It's all about, OMG I got 10 hours of sleep #blessed, smooth skin, work-life balance.' No one cares if you're smart." - Taylor P., Marketing Innovation

4. Dating: Swipe East, Swipe West

“The rating system in NY is inflated. If I'm a 6 in NYC, I'm a 4 in LA…" - Wally B., Comedian

“The dating grass is not always greener. New York has douchey Wall Streeters... we have unemployed Mactors (model/actors)." - Megan W., Publicist

“In NY, a long distance relationship is with someone outside of the tri-state area. In LA, a long distance relationship is with anyone on the other side of the 405." - Liz P., Marketing Manager

“It seems like NY is more of a relationship town, and LA is more shallow. It's always, 'Is there someone younger and prettier behind me the dude can get with?'" - Steph R., Writer

5. “This Opportunity Comes Once In a Lifetime" -Eminem, 8 Mile

“LA doesn't give you everything you need or want up front. She's guarded, fickle and tough. Yet, if you remain patient and open she will provide you with more adventure and opportunity than you could have ever imagined." - Atlee F., Singer/Songwriter

“In LA, industry people are nice and inviting... because they know that people can surprise you, and anyone can potentially be that person who opens a door for you. New Yorkers just don't have time to sift through that many humans." - Alexa K., Program Manager

6. Everyday I'm Hustlin'

“Surviving and thriving spiritually in LA requires constant and active meditation." - Atlee F., Singer/Songwriter

“In New York, it's easier to get around but harder to live... there's no help with literally anything ever. While in LA, it's harder to get around but easier to live. In fact, people here are overly helpful." - Hallie J., Digital Strategist

I hate the shopping experience in NYC. There's always a line to try something on, and an even bigger line to buy it! Plus when it's cold outside, it's WAY too hot inside the stores... but it's too much effort to unbundle your jacket." - Tammy S., Film

7. Transportation Nation

“Being in a packed NY train is like playing the trust game 'who's not gonna grab my ass while I'm crammed against the door?'" - Atheer Y., Nutritionist

“I've made some of my best friends while drunk on the subway... but I've also seen a homeless person with an anaconda. It's constant nonsense. In LA though, it's basically, 'I'll see you when I see you.'" - Taylor P., Marketing Innovation

8. Let's Get Social

“Happy hour in NY means 2-for-1 drinks specials. Happy hour in LA means 2-for-1 sound bath and silent meditation." -Liz P., Marketing Manager

“NY house parties are in tiny apartments (max occupancy 10-20, with at least 40 people inside). Whereas in LA, they're so large that people just show up. In reality, the host only knows 50% (which is why everyone asks how you know the host). It's like an audition of how well someone can act." -Alexa K., Program Manager

9. More Cultured Than Yogurt

“I admire the hustle in NY. You really have to love it there to stay there, so I think it breeds a strong culturalism which I appreciate. And the toughness… there's a strong moral character that LA doesn't seem to have." - Rachel S., Digital Media

“In NY business casual means suit-jacket optional. In LA, business casual means bra-optional." - Liz P., Marketing Manager

“LA supports a culture of wannabes who end up waiting tables. In NY it's all about the dreamers who make their dreams come true." - Vanessa H., Finance

10. (Wo)Mannerisms

"Everyone in NY is an asshole— but it's just because they need to know what you need. It's like, 'If I can help you in some way I will, but if not, stop talking to me.' While in LA, I've noticed people like to openly chat while in line. I've naturally met a lot of my best friends Starbucks." - Taylor P., Marketing Innovation

“You can tell who just moved to LA by whether or not they touch the food platter at a party. It's a shame because it's always made of the good shit (steaks, sushi, the works). - Alexa K., Program Manager


And there you have it folks, the real differences between LA and NYC, straight from the horse's mouth. But while their words are insightful, they remind us that just like mimosas at brunch, we'll never really get to the bottom of it (at least, we hope not).

Just remember that whichever city you chose, one thing's for sure: you still can't make that your relationship status on Facebook.

This piece was originally published October 20, 2017.

5 Min Read
People

Judge Tanya Acker On Overcoming Racial Barriers And Her Rise To The Top


You may recognize Judge, Tanya Acker, from her political and legal commentary on different networks and shows like Good Morning America, The Talk, Wendy Williams, CNN Reports or The Insider. Acker is more than an experienced commentator. She is also a Judge on the fifth season of Emmy nominated CBS show, Hot Bench.

The show, created by Judge Judy, is a new take on the court genre. Alongside Acker, are two other judges: Patricia DiMango and Michael Corriero. Together the three-panel judges take viewers inside the courtroom and into their chambers. “I feel like my responsibility on the show is, to be honest, fair, [and] to try and give people a just and equitable result," Acker says. She is accomplished, honest and especially passionate about her career. In fact, Acker likes the fact that she is able to help people solve problems. “I think that efficient ways of solving disputes are really at the core of modern life.

“We are a very diverse community [with] different values, backgrounds [and] beliefs. It's inevitable that we're going to find ourselves in some conflicts. I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.

Acker's career has been built around key moments and professional experiences in her life. Particularly, her time working right after college impacted the type of legal work she takes on now.

Shaping Her Career

Acker didn't foresee doing this kind of work on television when she was in college at either Howard University or Yale Law. “I was really open in college about what would happen next," Acker comments. “In fact, I deliberately chose a major (English) that wouldn't lock me into anything [because] I wanted to keep all of my options open." Her inevitable success on the show and throughout her career is an example of that. In fact, after graduating from Yale, Acker served as a judicial law clerk to Judge Dorothy Nelson who sits on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It was not only her first job out of law school but also one of the formative experiences of her professional life. “[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law," she exclaims. “She delivers it all with a lot of love." Judge Nelson is still on the bench and is continuing to work through her Foundation: The Western Justice Center in Pasadena, California, where Acker serves on the board. The foundation helps people seeking alternative ways of resolving their disputes instead of going to court.

"I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.

“It was important to her to try and create platforms for people to resolve conflict outside of court because court takes a long time," Acker explains. “I'm proud to be a part of that work and to sit on that board."

After her clerkship, she was awarded a Bristow Fellowship and continued building her career. Outside of the fellowship, Acker's legal work incorporated a broad variety of matters from civil litigation, constitutional cases, business counseling, and advising. One of her most memorable moments was representing a group of homeless people against the city. “They were being fought for vagrancy and our defense was, they had no place to go," she shares.

As part of her pro bono work, Acker was awarded the ACLU's First Amendment Award for her success with the case. Though, she has a hard time choosing from one of many memorable moments on Hot Bench. Acker does share a few of the things that matter to her. “Our show is really drawn from a cross-section of courtrooms across America and the chance to engage with such a diverse group of people really means a lot to me," she discusses.

How Did Acker Become A Judge?

In addition to Judge Nelson, Judge Judy is certainly among her top professional influences. “I think it's incredible [and] I feel very lucky that my professional career has been bookended by these incredible judges," she acclaims. “I've really learned a lot from Judy about this job, doing this kind of job on television." Before Acker was selected for Hot Bench, she hadn't been a judge. It was Judge Judy who recommended that she get some experience. Acker briefly comments on her first experience as a temporary judge on a volunteer basis in traffic court. “I was happy to be able to have the chance to kind of get a feel for it before we started doing the show," she comments. “Judy is a wonderful, kind, generous person [and] she's taught me quite a lot. I feel lucky."

Judge Acker in white pantsuit with her dog. Photo Courtesy of Annie Shak.

Acker's Time Away From Home

Outside of Hot Bench, Acker took recent trips to Haiti and Alabama. They were memorable and meaningful.

Haiti, in particular, was the first trip she excitedly talks about. She did some work there in an orphanage as part of LOVE Takes Root, an organization that is driven to help children around the world whether it's basic aid or education. “Haiti has a special place in my heart," she began. “As a person who's descended from enslaved people, I have a lot of honor and reverence for a country that threw off the shackles of slavery."

She was intrigued by the history of Haiti. Especially regarding the communities, corrupt government and natural disasters. “They really had to endure a lot, but I tell you this when I was there, I saw people who were more elegant, dignified, gracious and generous as any group of people I've ever met anywhere in the world," she goes on. “I think it left me with was a strong sense of how you can be graceful and elegant under fire." Acker is optimistic about the country's overall growth and success.

“[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law."

“There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," Acker says. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving."

Her other trip was different in more ways than one. She traveled there for the first time with her mother as part of a get out to vote effort, that Alabama's First black House Minority Leader, Anthony Daniels was organizing. “It was incredible to take that trip with her [and] I've got to tell you, the South of today is not the South of my mother's upbringing," she explains. Originally from Mississippi, Acker's mother hasn't been back in the South since 1952. “Every place has a ways to go, but it was a really exciting trip [and] it was nice for me to connect with that part of the country and that part of my history."

Overcoming Racial Barriers

As a black woman, Acker has certainly faced challenges based on her race and gender. But it doesn't define who she is or what she can accomplish. “There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," she says. “There's no sort of barrier that someone would attempt to impose upon me that they didn't attempt to impose on my mother, grandmother or great-grandmother." In a space where disparity is sometimes apparent, she recognizes that there is no barrier someone would try to impose on her that they didn't attempt to impose on her mother or grandmothers. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving," Acker states. The conversation continues truthfully and seriously. Acker shares what it can be like for black women, specifically. “I think we're underestimated and we can be disrespected, whereas other folks are allowed the freedom to enjoy a full range of emotions and feelings," she articulates.

At times black women are often restricted from expressing themselves. “If someone wants to make an assumption or jump to a conclusion about me because of my race or gender, that's on them, but their assumptions aren't going to define me," Acker declares. “If something makes me angry or happy I will express that and if someone wants to caricature me, that's their pigeonholing; that's not my problem." A lifelong lesson she learned and shared is to not let other people define who you are. It is one of three bits of wisdom.

Three Pieces Of Advice From Judge Acker

The Power Of Self-awareness

“It's really important that you have a really firm sense of what you want to do and be, and how you're moving in the world because when people try to sway you, judge you or steer you off course you've got to have some basis for getting back on track."

Know Your Support System

“Have a strong community of people who you trust, love and who love you," she advises. “But also learn to love and trust yourself because sometimes it's your own voice that can provide you the most comfort or solace in something."

Learn From Your Experiences

“Trust yourself. Take care of yourself. Don't be too hard on yourself. Be honest with yourself.

“There are times when it's not enough to say this is who I am. Take it or leave it. Sometimes we've got things that we need to work on, change or improve upon," she concludes.

Acker stands out not only because of her accomplishments, but the way she views certain aspects of her life. These days, she's comfortable accepting what makes her different. “I think there's a time when you're younger when conformity feels comfortable, [but] I'm comfortable these days not conforming," she laughs. She enjoys being a decision maker and helping people work through it on Hot Bench.

This article was originally published May 15, 2019.