Zach Szukala: Los Angeles

What’s your historical Los Angeles and New York connection?
LA and NYC have been my homes for the past decade and I’ve coast hopped three times now. First from the east coast – Upstate New York – via an extended cross country drive in a stuffed Ford Taurus. The fashion industry and the general thought that I wasn’t quite ready for NYC brought me to LA. My then girlfriend, now wife, told me there’s no fashion in San Francisco, where I was hoping to catch the very tail end of the tech boom/bust, so we’ve got to be in LA. We picked Los Feliz from a trendier guidebook as a place to live. After a little over a year of getting our careers started, and trying to understand the vast, sun-soaked dustiness of LA, we both decided this city was a bust and packed that same Taurus to head NYC.

We were in NYC for the next three years living in Brookyn (Williamsburg, Park Slope), enjoying a car-free existence, and working all over the city: Soho, West Village, Midtown, and the Upper East & West Sides.

My good friend Marc (CEO of Seso) was visiting one week and over brunch at Relish in Williamsburg (now closed, sadly) we caught up and talked about how his company had grown, and where it was headed. He needed creative leadership and a partner to help flip the portfolio. We bonded over eggs of our general dislike of the agency culture and clientele and wanted to create an agency that focused around clients we had passion for and believed in.

LA started creeping into my mind, and after a short trip out I was convinced I could do it again. Driving through Downtown very late at night: road sounds, twinkling lights, and a promise of the unknown got me hooked again.

We moved back in 2008 and have been living in the South Bay Beach Cities since. It was my one caveat for moving back: must live at the beach – must!

Describe your experience in NYC.
NYC – gritty, beautiful, and always entertaining with every walk to the train. Our first apartment in Williamsburg was a small loft in an old candle factory. An architect had converted the space and it had a bright orange door. The bathrooms were two separate rooms: one with a sink and toilet, the other with a stall shower. Both had 30ft skylights above them that weren’t winterized. One of my fondest memories is standing in the shower during the winter months at 7am and getting snowed on while I washed my hair.

What was the biggest challenge of moving from NYC to LA?
Losing that connection you feel to everyone around you. In NYC you’re shoulder to shoulder every day and odd conversations start up and lead to lifetime friendships. LA takes a bit of work to connect with people and get together.

How can NYC and LA engage with each other?
NYC & LA should learn from each other’s best transportation traits.
New York drivers should take a cue from LA drivers and be more conscientious (this sounds odd, but it’s true!). LA should keep fighting to bring back convenient public transportation, especially rebuilding and expanding the light rail and subway system.

LA secret spot
Paru’s Indian Vegetarian Restaurant in Hollywood on Sunset and Normandie (right down the street from our first Los Feliz Apartment). You have to ring a doorbell to get buzzed in, and then you’ll find yourself in this garden oasis.

NYC secret spot
Paley Park in Midtown: It’s a hidden waterfall oasis amongst the bustle of offices.

If you were not at Seso, what would you be doing?
Photographing industrial calm: walls, forgotten spaces, and vacant buildings.

From the 2462 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + LOS ANGELES

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