Welcome to L.A.

Los Angeles, give me some of you! Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town!
― John Fante

I have returned from the Land of White People to the Real World. It was not without some trepidation that I made the decision to return here. Los Angeles is an ugly city in some ways, and it is laid out in a way that is not environmentally sustainable. Yet I must admit to having fond memories of this place. Since I have arrived here, I have come to the realization that I am a big city person. I like being around people, and I like having many choices as to things to do. In Eugene, I was going to the same hippy hang-out every week, which got old pretty quickly. (I must say, though, that Eugene has a nice art house movie theatre called the Bijou.)

I have noticed that there seems to be more theatres and live music venues than when I left. And Hollywood looks more prosperous than I’ve ever seen it look before. And there are new buildings here and there. It seems that L.A. has weathered the recession fairly well. The only sour note is that the L.A. Weekly, which I used to enjoy reading, is now a shrunken homunculus of its former self. This once eminent newsweekly is now edited by the right-wing crank, Jill Stewart. She used to write for the now defunct New Times L.A., and the Weekly seems to have adopted that paper’s strategy of emphasizing scandals, both real and imaginary. The cover story of the latest issue is a long article about sex scandals in the city of San Fernando (pop. 23,645). We all want to read about that, don’t we? I must admit that I miss the old Weekly. Harold Meyerson may have been a brown-noser to the Democrats, but he hired good reporters and interesting writers. What has happened to the Weekly may be symptomatic of what has been happening to alternative newspapers across the country, but one would have wished that the Weekly would have gone down fighting, instead of becoming an embarrassment.

It’s always nice to be in a city where people speak languages besides English. Spanish is, of course, ubiquitous, but what is not so well known is that L.A. has a large Russian-speaking community. Years ago, I used to take the Hollywood subway early in the morning to a job I had at the time. I swear, it was almost as though I were riding on the Moscow subway. L.A. also has substantial Chinese, Korean, Thai, Iranian, and Armenian communities.

Fuck you, Mayberry!

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