Wednesday, December 3, 2008

City in Denial

I woke up late this morning, to learn that college has become so expensive that most people will not be able to afford it soon (or already). Fortunately the Fleet Foxes sang over this news, making the pain more beautiful.
It's so hard to lure my friends to Los Angeles. It's just a big blank spot on the map in their minds. That's what I thought of it when I was growing up in Orange County. When my older sister moved here after high school, I had serious doubts about our continued friendship; if she could live there, what would we have to talk about? The sins of myself and the many who have profited from making Los Angeles a simulacra of incredibly boring visions are now visited upon me. I'm here. And I've discovered a city that's been here all along, behind the stucco malls and decadent 80s pastels. Why is there a legacy of denial in Los Angeles? Why can't it just be a city? Cities have lots of interesting things that I love, like funny little businesses, pretty apartment buildings, museums, people walking around, subways, caf├ęs. Guess what, we've got all that here. There are charming pockets of decayed glory and preserved splendor here. There are intelligent humans producing magnificent art and lifestyles. You don't even need a car.
There's this terribly ironic situation I'm trying to help with right now, where the LA Ecovillage lost a building last year, cause it was on LAUSD land. LAUSD razed the old fourplex and has plans for a parking lot there.
Another key element of metropolis: diversity of world views. In one block here, you find ecovillagers, people quite engaged with sustainable practices, and medieval district officials, who think a parking lot's a better use of space than homes. Or something like a garden for the schoolchildren who attend the two schools across the street. A parking lot! A parking lot!
Soon I will leave my apartment, in a lovely old 20s building rimmed with the scum of ages, walk down the palm-lined, dense street I live on, to the subway that will take me to a commuter rail line. Did you know these things existed in LA? Let's cut through the lies about this city and admit its existence, all the while enjoying the sunshine.