8.2.06

My Random Thoughts on LA... Pre-trip Edition


Little Wooden City
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
I'm not an LA fan. When I hear LA I think of sprawl, racism and traffic. It has never ranked high on my list of places to visit, but since I have to go, I'm going to try and have fun.

As is my routine, I read a couple of books about LA over the last month or so. My favorites were a couple of books by an urban sociologist named Mike Davis called City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear. He uses an interesting method where he tries to make sociological generalizations based on depicting of a city in literature and film. It would seem that LA is the most likely city to be destroyed in our pop culture. Of course, this is probably mostly due to the fact that it is also most likely to be destroyed in real life (I mean come on, right now they've got out of control wild fires and terrible prison riots, and this is a quite week.) What's interesting is that in most of these depictions the destruction is celebrated, which contrasts to the destruction of London (the most destroyed city in the time preceding LA) which was heralded as the end of civilization.

In it's favor, LA is such a young city that I think that it will urbanize in terms of density and transit a lot in the next 30 years or so. It seems like that is already beginning. So who knows, maybe I'll like it. My hostel has wireless internet, so I'll be writing some from there. At very worst, the temperature will be in the 80's, so at least its got that going for it.

3 comments:

Heather B 7:37 PM  

I'm from the east coast, and visited LA once when I went on a cross-country drive to see US cities first-hand after graduating from college. I'm white; my traveling companion for the journey was my Jamaican-American boyfriend.

I never felt more nervous than when I was walking the streets of LA. The nadir of the whole experience was when we stopped on a side-street to pick up flowers to thank our hosts for letting us crash at their home for a couple of nights. Apparently we chose the wrong street, because it wasn't long until someone was shouting racial epithets at my boyfriend for having a white woman with him. A moment later, another person chimed in. Apparently this was an African-American section of town and it wasn't cool for us to co-exist like that.

Anyway, studying LA through literature and pop culture is a pretty interesting endeavor. I'm an avid fan of "24" and it seems the repeated obsession with that show. It gets to the point where you sort of want the terrorists to blow up the city just to break all the crazy anticipation.

Anna 7:50 PM  

I spent six months in LA and I liked it ok. Granted the smog and the traffic sucked. And it was really dry and the lake by where I lived had dried up. . . We did go downtownish to Skid Row to hand out food and I found people to be really pretty responsive.
I mean, are you just talking about LA proper, or the whole surronding areas? Santa Monica isn't that Bad, neither is Pasadena. I could live out there ok. I actually seemed to have less culture shock out there then in Boston. And I did volunteer work weekly in Hollywood with kids and I liked that. LA's not bad man.

onetenchelsea 10:40 PM  

yeah, but culture shock in Boston had more to do with where you were at in life then in LA. Plus LA was probably less of a culture change from Minneapolis (cars and so on.) I don't know. I guess I'll see.

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