Sarah Passe: New York City

What’s your historical Los Angeles and New York connection?
My parents are New Yorkers who raised me in Charlotte, NC. After going to UNC Chapel Hill I was ready to check out big city life. I grew up visiting family in NYC, so it seemed like a good place to start!

After two years in NYC my best friend Becca Frucht moved to LA. I had only been to LA on a family vacation growing up where the main goal was to go to the Peach Pit and then, later for a few business trips after college.

After three years, I called Becca and said “Hey- thanks for checking out that city and finding us a great neighborhood and group of friends. I will see you there in 2 weeks.” She is my official city scouter. It was a very soft landing when moving to L.A. with Becca as a friend.

Describe your experience in NYC.
I moved to NYC with my best friends from college. There were four of us in a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side (UES). I paid $750 for the privilege of living in the dining room with a drop cloth across its opening, creating a fourth wall.

I got a great job working as a digital media planner at Digitas. I didn’t plan on working in digital media but that was where the jobs were when I graduated in 2005. It was fantastic to be considered an expert at such a young age. The digital space was so new that it was great to help write the rules.

In addition, I was able to control budgets and was a buyer! Our partners would wine and dine us. I always joked that even if I was eating Peanut Butter and Jelly for dinner, I was eating steak for lunch. It was a great way to see the city. In the evenings, I would babysit to make money to pay for “cool NYC clothes” and flights back to North Carolina, where I watched all of my Southern friends get married.

After a year I decided that the UES was not for me. I moved to a tiny two-bedroom in Williamsburg, where I stayed for the next five years. The neighborhood grew up along with me. It seemed like as soon as I could afford nicer clothes, a boutique would open on my block. Once I could afford to eat at nice restaurants, two would open near me. When I started thinking about real estate, voila! Condominiums! I loved Williamsburg. It was great for bike rides, views of the city and great music. Waiting for the train was the best fashion show you have ever attended. I was very sad to leave.

Describe your experience in LA:
Someone told me, “if you are going to move 3000 miles across the country, do not stop 5 miles short,” so I moved to Venice Beach. I also had this fear that living in LA meant living on a hill somewhere without easy access to coffee. I moved near Abbott Kinney, or as my parents joked, “Bedford Avenue West.” There are definitely similarities between Williamsburg and Venice Beach, but now I live in a stand-alone house with a porch and my own laundry. I run on the beach year-round as opposed to on a highway a few months a year.

It has been fantastic to see the digital entertainment industry blossom in LA in the three years I have been here. CAA is a fantastic place to be a part of the increasingly symbiotic relationship between technology and entertainment.

What was the biggest challenge of moving from LA to NYC?
I miss the spontaneity of NYC, where a quick drink can turn into the craziest night of your life. That rarely happens in LA.

What was not a challenge was remembering how much I loved the outdoors. I had no idea how starved I was for hiking, biking, swimming and camping trips until I moved to LA.

How can NYC and LA best engage with each other?
We work very closely with our NYC colleagues at CAA. With new technologies such as teleconference, Face Time and Skype, it is increasingly easier. It’s important to be conscious of each other’s time zones and to schedule things when everyone can be engaged, focused and given appropriate time for response and follow-up. Late night or early morning may not be the most productive times for everyone. When you work bicoastal, it can feel like working 24-hours a day.  I think we can be more efficient than that.

It is critical to visit each other! One of the most important things that the entertainment industry has taught me is the value of in-person, face-to-face exchanges of information. All the technology in the world cannot compete with sitting down with someone to brainstorm ideas, or have a laugh. If you have a trip scheduled, stay longer than for your one big meeting. It is worth it every time.

Favorite LA secret spot
I don’t know how secret it is but riding the bike path on Venice Beach always makes me happy. I love the crazy characters and uberathletes contrasted against the beauty of the mountains and the ocean. There is a place called Poke Poke place on the boardwalk that sells delicious bowls of raw tuna, Hawaiian-style. It is also a short walk to the canals, where you can check out all the crazy architecture and foliage while marveling that canals actually exist in Los Angeles.

Favorite NYC secret spot
I am not sure if any of them are cool anymore. That is the beauty of NYC. Things are so briefly cool. I used to love going to the Williamsburg pool parties at McCarren Park (editors note–that pool is now a real pool, no longer a concert venue). A few years ago, it was snowing and I ended up at drag queen bingo at The Standard. The whole crowd was so invested in the outcome, it was wonderful.

I also am a big fan of bike riding on Governors Island. It’s far enough away from Manhattan to make it feel like you’re in another world, but you can still see the city.

If you were not at CAA, what would you be doing?
I would be a non-fiction, narrative journalist. They have a wonderful job. I love going into a new world or environment, figuring out the social norms and the inside jokes, hearing the interesting stories, and meeting the characters. Luckily, I get to do some of that in my current role.

What’s on your playlist right now?
I made a great Fourth of July playlist that spans everything from Icona Pop to Rocky to Royals to Jack and Diane. Both LA and NYC are very patriotic places.

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

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