No Trick of Light

THIS PIECE was deeply satisfying to research and to write and then COVID arrived and then we had to do a high-wire act in a blink. The city went from it’s vibrant noisy self to empty freeways and main thoroughfares and a quality of quiet I had never experienced here in my lifetime.

The piece is not exactly a love letter to Los Angeles, but it was a way for me to reconnect to the place I travel in my head and in my heart most times —the Los Angeles that you can experience if you give yourself over to it.

Between Showings: Downton Los Angeles, March 2020 Photo by Lynell George

From the essay:

As a native of Los Angeles, I take this blink-awake moment to occupy someone else’s imagination, absorb its sensory cues, take in the physicality of the place with someone else’s eyes. Bask in it. To wake in paradise, into a second chance, is a trope, but one of the sturdiest conveyed in film and books and music and television. It thrums in the light of paintings and swims in the frames of photography. What might it be to see, feel, smell, hear, taste Los Angeles for the first time?

That’s outside my own stream of memories, of course, as I have always been here. But growing up here, I understood very early that we daily traverse both a real and imagined Los Angeles.

We live amid a tangle of clichés and misapprehensions. We may cut them back, but we will never kill them. Still, this is my city, my shelter, my place. 

So much here shifts in a blink, as effortless, it sometimes seems, as a scene change. Depending on who you speak to, we are built on either impermanence or illusion. Earthquakes, fires, floods rewrite the narrative of the city as we know it, in the moment. Depending on how you frame the story, there’s always some malevolent force crouching in paradise.

You can read the rest up at High Country News:

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