L.A. Insider: Professor Hugo Schwyzer
College professor Hugo Schwyzer has lived in Los Angeles for 21 years, but this recent first-time father told us that he feels like he's discovering a new city thanks to his new West L.A. neighborhood.
Name: Hugo Schwyzer
Occupation: Professor of Gender Studies, www.hugoschwyzer.net
Neighborhood: West L.A.
Abode: Owns a 4-bedroom house
How long have you lived in West LA? Eight months this time around. But I also spent 7 years (from 1989-1996) in this area.Where exactly is West L.A.? I say West L.A. but you could also call my area Beverlywood. We border Beverly Hills and Westwood and Los Angeles, it's the area around Pico. West L.A is a larger area that extends further south and west towards the beach.
What do you love most about your neighborhood? The wonderful restaurants in walking distance. I'm a vegan and my favorite place to snack is Metro Glatt. I think is the best hummus this side of Tel Aviv. When my wife is craving meat we go to Shiloh's Steakhouse on Pico.
Best kept secret in West L.A.? It's the extraordinary ethnic diversity within a couple of square blocks. You can go from an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood to a Hispanic neighborhood to a WASP-y neighborhood, and you can do all that while walking two miles.
What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday night in your neighborhood? At this stage of my life with a baby daughter, it's at home with my family, watching something that we got on Netflix. I would've had a much better answer 20 years ago.
You are a big runner. How's this area for running? When I lived in Pasadena, I ran in the mountains every week. But here, there are so many places you can get to quickly. One of my favorite paths is to run over to Baldwin Hills scenic overlook and enjoy great views of the city. You also have the Santa Monica Hills nearby which I also run to often. The neighborhood itself isn't my favorite for running but it's so close to so many prime spots, which is great.
What's it like to be a gender studies professor in Los Angeles? How is it for your research? The great thing is you're never at a loss for conversation when you go to a party! All you have to do is tell people what you do and you have plenty to talk about for an hour. In Los Angeles, people don't seem nearly as threatened by that as they would in less tolerant parts of our world.
I think that L.A. is both a wonderful city for women in a professional sense and a city where the worst images of women are created. Los Angeles isn't very set on traditional values. For example if you go to Dallas or Atlanta the expectation for women in the work place is extremely conservative. In L.A. there are women in places of power. But, it's also a city that is O.K. with women being powerful when women live up to a certain ideal in terms of youth, sexuality and attractiveness. Depending on how you look, it's can be both oppressive and liberating.
Has having a daughter changed your work? Of course I am protective of her -- because she is a child -- not because she is a girl. I don't see her as a fragile little princess, but as a great creature that I get to be guardian of as she grows up. I want to do everything I can to build a world where she can be wherever she wants, live however she wants and love whomever she wants.
I can't let you go without asking MTV's 2008 America's Hottest Professor for a comment: Yes it's true, that was me. (Laughing) I guess any attention is good attention.