Wednesday, March 21, 2007

what we paid for

Katy and I had dinner on the beach tonight, spur of the moment. Grapes and cheese and crackers on the sand. We talked about how we should try more often to make days different than the usual. "We should go to the beach more often," Katy said, "after all, this is Southern California. It's what we paid for."

Now, there are probably a lot of people that would exclaim against that statement, either in a reactionary/contrarian LA way or with some kind of honest rebuttal. "I'm not here for the ocean. I'm here for the art/money/glamour/vibe/food/energy/jobs/drugs/etc." And this might be partially true. But Katy never said anything about why we were here. Listen again. Hollywood studios, 16 million dollar homes, palm trees and international cusine and yes, the drugs-- they all come, in some way or another, from the coast. You see the allusions refracted deep into Pasadena, in the colors and street names and footwear.

All of which makes Los Angeles' denial of the ocean even more spectacular. At its formation it was an agricultural community, divorced from the beachfront resort towns at the perimiter by a few miles of scrub. But the growth came from the water, and now they are all one big mess, a mess in which topography and city planning has denied the very existence of a coastline from the Palisades to Manhattan Beach.

People in this city love to speak of the Valley as some sort of poor retarded younger sibling, one which always exceeds expectations (in its sushi, music, etc), if only because those expectations were rock bottom to begin with. But isn't greater Los Angeles just another valley, hot and dry, no water in sight? This is the kind of city defined by a lack of boundaries-- LA is never more LA than when the hills are shrouded by smog and the ocean a distant memory. In it's own dreams, Los Angeles seams together Jefferson and Sunset, Sepulveda and Atlantic, no edges and no reality save itself.

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