They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol - US artist (1928 - 1987)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The question is . . . . .

The Question is, what and where is the heart of Los Angeles?

I often hear friends and others say " I Hate L.A." I can not wait to get out of here." As if the city had no value, history or soul. Mind you, most of those who make this comment are "Transplants" or people who for whatever reason found their way here. Usually escaping someone or something, or relocating for a career opportunity. I admit, it does bother me, being a native Angelino, when people say this. I think, its just as easy to leave as it was to arrive, so what exactly are you waiting on, if you actually hate it?

I read an article the other day, very well written by Hector Tobar. So, where is the Soul of Los Angeles? Here is it described to Hector Tobar by Tomas Benitez.

"Finding the essence of L.A. is not meant to be easy," he told me.

Still, he said he believes he stumbled upon the secret of L.A. one evening in the 1980s, when he drove with his young daughter from the Eastside to the Pacific Ocean, almost 30 miles along old Brooklyn Avenue and Sunset Boulevard.

It was a journey that began with a greasy sandwich in the San Gabriel Valley, taking him past taco stands, transvestites, iconic nightclubs and faux Roman villas.

"On that drive, we saw the world change 10 or 15 different times," he told me.

It seemed to me Benitez was on to something. To really know it, you have to keep traveling between our north and south, our east and west, our glitz and our grit. You have to discover new L.A.s for as long as you live here.

That's because L.A. is really numerous cities in time and space, some of them layered on top of each other.

Near its center and in that amorphous area many people inaccurately call "the Eastside" is the old city, which grew up around the junction of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco. It's the time-worn L.A. you see in neighborhoods such as Echo Park and Watts. For me, those places are the baroque heart of the city.

Each of those cross-town journeys, Benitez said, "was like going out and hanging out in another corner of the world."

That's the L.A. Benitez wanted to show his 8-year-old daughter Tara on that long drive down Brooklyn and Sunset — the movie stars and the wannabes, the barrio and the mansions all joined together.

That makes sense to me. Los Angeles is a city built of many messy collisions. The confusion, delight, loathing and bliss you feel when you take the time to truly see it — that, to me, is the essence of Los Angeles.

To read more of this article : (Click it)


A Lewis said...

I must admit, I've made such off-the-cuff comments. My apologies. I do understand that books should not necessarily be judged by their covers, nor cities by one piece of them. I don't know a lot about LA's history....clearly. I spend most of my life looking down at places. Maybe it's time for a longer, in depth trip to LA.

Christopher said...

Great article!!