No religion or politics: Try these low-stakes debate topics at your L.A. family gathering



The holidays are coming. And with them will come some wonderful people who are, it must be said, wrong about various things. These are your loved ones and loved-ones-in-law.

You treasure them. You share history. Yet soon, when you all sit together around a dinner table, you expect a significant risk of conflict or awkwardness.

Not to worry. We have these relatively safe subjects ready for you — open-ended, locally rooted topics likely to invite speculation, inspire bluffing, evoke memories and draw disagreement but probably not blood. No politics, no religion, no FIFA, no tacos.

But doughnuts and Dodgers we can safely discuss, right? Here’s our list.

  • Are we agreed that the 6th Street Viaduct is now our favorite bridge in Los Angeles? What’s No. 2?
  • The best doughnuts in Los Angeles are definitely from…
  • To reach LAX by 5 p.m. on a weekday, it’s best to leave DTLA by…
  • We know how you feel about LAX. Would you rather fly from Burbank or Long Beach?
  • The best cinematic portrait of Los Angeles isn’t “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” ” La La Land” or “Chinatown.” It’s…
  • The alleged green flash on the water at sunset: Have you seen it? If not, do you believe in it?
  • How long do you have to live in Los Angeles to be a local?
  • How long do you have to be out of California before you aren’t a Californian anymore?
  • If you know who Cal Worthington and Hobo Kelly are, does that mean you’re a Californian forever?
  • When you hear someone refer to this state as “Cali,” the immediate response is…
  • Besides Hollywood Boulevard, the most overrated landmark in Los Angeles is…
  • The greatest Laker not named Magic is …
  • The greatest Dodger not named Sandy is …
  • Never mind Griffith Observatory or the Bradbury Building. My favorite L.A. building is…
  • When the Dodgers get tired of playing “I Love L.A.” after winning home games, the next song they should use is…

And just for fun, here are some trivia questions. We recommend you explore these subjects without any phone consultation — or any facts at all from the outside world — until the meal is done. The bluffing is better that way. But if you must know answers to the questions that have settled answers, you can find them by following the links.

  • You’re on a boat to Catalina. Is flotsam stuff that sailors throw overboard? Or is that jetsam?
  • Was “Victory Lap” recorded by Los Lobos, Nipsey Hussle or the Red Hot Chili Peppers?
  • It turns out that Los Angeles has steeper streets than San Francisco. And the steepest of those streets is in the neighborhood of…
  • You’re down by the port in San Pedro. Would you rather be a longshoreman or a stevedore? Do longshoremen hire stevedores or the other way around?
  • You’ve just arrived at City Hall and your name is not Karen Bass. Would you rather be a flunky or a lackey? Which one historically gets to wear a uniform?
  • Was “Under the Bridge” recorded by Los Lobos, Nipsey Hussle or the Red Hot Chili Peppers?
  • You’re looking up from Griffith Observatory. When does a meteor become a meteorite? Or is it the other way around?
  • You’re driving to San Francisco. Are you taking I-5 for speed or U.S. 101 for the scenery? What’s the difference in miles?
  • You’re planning a weekend away. When you’re talking about the mountains around Yosemite, is it OK to say Sierras?
  • Was “Native Son” recorded by Los Lobos, Nipsey Hussle or the Red Hot Chili Peppers?
  • You’re planning another weekend away. Is Joshua Tree National Park the high desert, the Colorado Desert, the Mojave Desert, none of the above or all of the above?



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