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Bye Bye American Pie

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Ever buy the New York Times in New York City?

If you have, you know that the best section in the whole paper is actually the locals-only City Section. Its where the masters of 43rd Street put their youngest, hippest and usually most-talented writers.

The City Section is the pitch perfect read for a New Yorker, because it practically defines the city.

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So what about for us in Los Angeles? Well, for one, we now have West.

But, really, the piece of the Sunday LA Times a true Angeleno picks up first is the sorry imitation of a paid advertisement known as Real Estate.

The slimline advertorial functions mostly as a cover page to the home listings, but the front page does have some content — notably the Hot Property column. Amazingly, it manages to create a sad hybrid synergy of our housing excess obsession and our celebrity desperation culture. And it does so in the most distasteful way possible, both mocking and idolizing the cool kids who are selling their overpriced and yet idyllic second- (or third-) homes.

So, not surprisingly, we try to skip the section every week. We feel we've read enough about Uma Thurman's and Arnold Schwarzenegger's $5 million Pacific Palisades homes on the block.

But this week, we felt compelled to read it — more drawn by pity than anything else.

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Thomas Ian Nicholas (you're not the only one saying, 'who?') sold his Valley home for cool $650,000 .

Yes, we said Valley, as in Northridge.

And yes, we said $650,000, as in couldn't afford a two-bedroom in La Palma.

Rereading the section again this Monday morning, we don't know who to feel sorrier for — the former Mr. American Pie or the poor reporter who couldn't dig up anybody more glamorous than a former Tony Danza stand-in selling a tract home.