Alex Elias: New York City

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Hi, I’m Alex, and I’m the founder of Qloo. We’ve built a recommendation engine for all of culture and entertainment. Think Netflix or Pandora operating on multiple dimensions – food, fashion, music, literature, film and travel. Check us out here. I also play some jazz and make some art.

What’s your historical Los Angeles and New York connection?
I was born in LA and did undergrad at USC, then moved to NYC for law school at NYU, and founded my first company as well as Qloo in NYC.

Describe your experience in LA and your experience in NYC
I love both cities dearly. In LA, my favorite time was living in Los Feliz with a few very good friends who were also musicians. I had it good in LA, but always had an incurable itch to move to NYC. I date it back to an old Tom & Jerry cartoon –“Mouse in Manhattan”, where Jerry leaves Tom and his small town roots behind and hits the big city. He couldn’t quite handle it though, and has his head turned upside down. I’m trying to avoid Jerry’s fate. I love jogging up hiking trails in LA. In NYC I spend nearly every morning on the West Side Highway, back and forth from Christopher on down to Battery Park. It clears my head in a big way.

What was the biggest challenge of moving from LA to NYC?
I’d say disparity in energy levels (and obvious things like weather, commuting differences etc.). Though I think increasingly they are converging culturally. I’d have a harder time now moving back to LA, because I love walking so much. I love being physically connected to the pavement in a city. You just can’t do that systematically in LA. And in case I ever move back, I’m open to suggestions here…

How can NYC and LA best engage with each other?
Our best hope is the Hyperloop! Short of that, I’d say by making it less of a zero sum game. A lot of New York transplants feel the need to disavow everything that’s great about LA and vice-versa. I’d say avoiding cynicism, and actively being on the lookout for things that are great about the other coast. Try championing the opposite coast for a change.

Favorite LA secret spot
Used to be Charlie O’s in Burbank (where Seth Macfarlane used to cut his singing chops, with comparatively unknown jazz greats like John Heard play night after night). Now that that’s sadly closed, I’d have to say the Rocky Peak trail, way north on the 405 west on the 118 and a few exits later. It’s where all the old westerns were shot, where Rocketdyne was testing missile defense, and NASA’s testing ground for the moon expedition. If you walk up the trail, you’re surrounded by these gorgeous rocks that was the backdrop to films like the Grapes of Wrath, and all of a sudden you hit these mysterious structures in the middle of nowhere. Every now and then you’ll step on a bullet shell from a blank fired on a John Wayne film set. Totally bizzare and awesome.

Favorite NYC secret spot
Not really a secret per se, but a fun experience is Jazz at Marjorie Eliot’s, who has been hosting sessions in her apartment in Washington Heights every Sunday Afternoon for more than a decade.

If you were not building what you build now, what would you be doing?
Jazz musician. 1,000%.

Inflight Entertainment: tell us what song/album, TV show, podcast, or web videos you’ve been watching lately.
Music-wise: Keith Jarrett, Live in Tokyo ’96. Simply Gorgeous. Podcast-wise: Norm Macdonald’s short run with Norm Macdonald Live. Sheer absurdity.

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

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