My Life in the Sunshine …

APOLOGIES FOR being so behind on posting articles. Trying to play catch up. Things have been back-to-back.

This was a piece that I didn’t know I needed to write, but when the opportunity arrived I knew I had to wrestle with some themes that had been drifting through in conversations for years.

It’s an ode to a Los Angeles that is holding on with a very specific vividness and richness, but every time I revisit, I see features that appear slightly different, feel a rhythm that feels somewhat sped up or askew. At moments,, it’s difficult to put into words, but this is a reflection of what it is to be not just in a place but of a place.

The view North from the Avenues

From the piece:

As a journalist, I keep my eye trained on statistics — census numbers, pie charts, bar graphs — that indicate shifts that we may not detect with a naked eye. Therein blooms stories. As a Black Angeleno those charts and calculations aren’t abstractions. They are something you feel in your body, some sort of undertow in your day to day existence. Something has changed, power has shifted. Census numbers, like a Ouija planchette, pull attention toward power or possibility — the vote, the money, the influence. 

For many decades, Los Angeles had been known as a Black migrant “magnet.” Folks came for the promise and the sunshine. The Black population in L.A. has dropped 30% since 1990, according to census data.

Home is always in us…

My piece for KPCC/LAist on Nipsey Hussle and the soul and heart of Black Los Angeles is here.

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:

Safer at Home: No Trick of Light: L.A. Stories

LAST WEEK, I was in the last stretch of finishing up an essay about Los Angeles—what it looks, feels, sounds like and the histories we all on. All this, just as we received the order from the state of California and the city and county of Los Angeles to stay at home. Not a lock down, but to limit our movements around the city due to the novel coronavirus.

On Broadway

During a teleconference with my editor, we sorted out a way to include this new and unprecedented chapter in the story of the city. Last weekend, on the way to do morning groceries, I wound through my old neighborhood to see what an emptied-out L.A. was beginning to look like.

These photos illustrate this.

It was heartening to see how quickly people acted and yet heartbreaking to see the city stilled in such a dramatic way..

You can read my essay up at High County News here.

We can only take this one day at a time …

Grammy Love for Otis

IMG_3916THIS WAS incredible news!  The in-depth essay I researched and wrote for this beautiful box set,  won  the Best Album Notes  Grammy yesterday.  I am still over the moon, especially because it was a project that set its larger goal as getting all three nights — and all sets — of Redding’s run at the Whisky A Go Go  that April 1966 in pristine listening shape for the world to hear.

Redding was poised to take the next big step in his career and looked at L.A. as not a stepping stone but a launching pad.  These recordings reveal his enthusiasm, prowess and charm.

Here’s a little more here about the set.

And this from the LAT about the Grammy win.

 

 

Jamming to the 70s

JOIN US tomorrow afternoon at 826LA Echo Park for Roar Shack. On the bill: Chip Jacobs, Dana Johnson Geza X, Steve Hodel, David Kukoff and yours truly. The event: “I Remember That: L.A. in the 70s.” We’ll be reading pieces looking back at when L.A. was a bit more open, wild and it took only 30 minutes to get just about anywhere…. See you there.

Details here