Sep '08 - Sep '11
Please permit me a moment of indulgence:
I was walking to get some food on campus a few days ago, and something about the warm November air and the way the setting sun hit a lush bed of roses made me realize again that I really do love Los Angeles.
Actual moment of discovery
It wasn't just framed as 'in other places it's freezing and snowing right now' (though that was definitely part of it!), and it wasn't just UCLA and its landscaping; the moment was like a dream where you understand a wider picture from one small scenario (i.e. "I was in this room, and it was totally my childhood bedroom, but like totally different, I just knew..."). Maybe I just haven't been sleeping enough, and was maybe ACTUALLY DREAMING as I walked. I think it does mean though that I'm adjusting to UCLA, but it also felt as though there were wider implications speaking for my increased adjustment to this bizarre heterogeneous megacity. That this sudden feeling of fondness for Los Angeles occurred at UCLA - surrounded by undergrads talking about their workout routines or who so and so fucked last night, in one of the most conventionally beautiful places in Los Angeles, but for me one of the least "LA" places in Los Angeles (my LA is NOT Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, which UCLA is very much in line with), didn't really seem to matter at the time.
I saw semi-urban/semi-pastoral beauty; my friend saw this image and said "Why'd you go to a golf course?!"
How weird it is to love a place that's an artificial oasis in a very real desert kept alive by an IV drip of stolen water on a thin crust of asphalt, palm trees, celebrities, and class warfare, floating on a sea of tar in the middle of a huge earthquake zone? These conditions breed a strange love of extremes, and of course of disaster fiction media, all too often seeping into reality, and sometimes then even back into media. As a small example, the Hollywood Hills fire that threatened the Hollywood sign (destroyed constantly in movies) showed up as evidence of a riot and escalation to apocalypse in one of my favorite movies, the baroquely absurd Southland Tales. Will the fires that gave us such beautiful sunsets (and charred smelling air) in the past week end up being recycled into some media further glamorizing the constant apocalypse of Los Angeles?
If you don't understand or agree with me about all this, and "statistically" (I bet there are statistics on this somewhere) I would have to assume you don't, you would probably like Emily's LA post better. My former Bay Aryan self agrees with her completely, but I now selfishly feel like there are reasons to love a place other than its water politics and car dependency. Wow, my former Bay Aryan self would really love to give a privileged-monoculture-powered smack to my newly minted Angeleno self right now. Los Angeles absolutely has its problems, and they're large and mounting, but perversely for me these add to its vitality and relevance. LA doesn't give up its moments of glory easily, but when you do reach them, the waiting has made them all the sweeter.