How Los Angeles Looked, 1850s | Photo courtesy LA Public Library via KCET | Departures

IT WAS great to see D.J. Waldie’s thoughtful consideration of our online conversation.

Some of his musings:

We haven’t yet learned to speak the language of the Los Angeles that is coming. It’s a post-sprawl city, where “sprawl” had been the clichéd label for the city’s multi-centered urban form. It’s a post-diversity city, where “diversity” talk is both a sign of Anglo anxiety about the new people living next door and a word of self-congratulation about not being too anxious. Los Angeles is post “middle-class” as well, having been made into a city of struggling working-class aspirants below and a crust of oblivious wealth above.

You can catch the rest here at KCET Departures


Seeking Los Angeles

The View from the Old Hill -- by Lynell George

The View from the Old Hill — by Lynell George

SOME YEARS back, not too long before I became a journalist, I noted that I seemed stricken by writers block when it came to fixing Los Angeles on the page.

Maybe I was just too deep in it, or standing far too close to really see it — my own day-to-day life here, and my place in it. Consequently it wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco briefly that I began to write deeply and vividly about the city I was born and raised in. And then it seemed, I couldn’t’ stop.

More recently, I have found myself wrestling with a different sort of writing challenge as I encounter the city — both physically and philosophically. Mostly of late it feels like I am chasing ghosts and, in a certain way, still writing about L.A. from a distance — but one of time and change.

The ever-sharp Carolina Miranda over at the L.A. Times convened three L.A. writers to talk about L.A.: the worn-out tropes, the city’s elusiveness. I had a great time having a virtual conversation with D.J. Waldie and Josh Kun, two Angelenos who also press into the city from unexpected angles.

Here’s the link to our online chat.

And thanks again Carolina for asking us to help pull L.A.into sharper focus.

On the Matter of LOCE-Anga-leeze

“There is no other city in the world whose inhabitants so miserably and shamelessly, and with so many varieties of foolishness, miscall the name of the town they live in,” Charles F. Lummis wrote to a friend in 1914. He was still shuddering at the memory of hearing Theodore Roosevelt refer to the city as “Loss-AN-gee-less.” Lummis advocated a pronunciation in which “Los” rhymed with “Dos,” and the A in Angeles was slightly broader than the A in “Arm,” the G was hard and the final “es” rhymed with “Yes.” He spelled it phonetically: LOCE ANG-ELESS”

from L.A. El Pueblo Grande by John D. Weaver, 1973

And finally a clip up on Youtube of Anjelica Houston as “Lily” from The Grifters having her fun with the city’s proper name:

(Los Angeles Pet-Peeves)

Christmas Postcard from Los Angeles

SOME TRADITIONS stick;  others evolve and shape-shift.

All of it, in the last few days and hours, has been part of my end-of- the-year reflections;  the  fodder for long walks and talks with old friends and new. Most likely what takes root will become part of some piece of writing — or new vein of exploration — as the last days of 2014 drift away…

Last night driving home very late from a gathering, I just happened to punch in the AM radio band to chance upon the most fancifully ornate reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”  That was one of our Christmas Eve-musts. Always. So, to have it simply drift up coincidentally and escort me — beginning to end —  from the city boundary into my driveway was a special gift, a sort of warm reassurance. A footbridge from past to present, I suppose.

I’ll be posting sporadically over the holidays but wanted to wish all who visit here the very best as we turn the page.

Thanks for visiting and being part of making the year special.

Hill Street Entrance of the Grand Central Market

Hill Street Entrance of the Grand Central Market

Measuring Time

“A good part of any day in Los Angeles is spent driving, alone, through streets devoid of meaning to the driver, which is one reason the place exhilarates some people, and floods others with an amorphous unease. didion There is about these hours spent in transit a seductive unconnectedness. Conventional information is missing. context clues are missing. In Culver City as in Echo Park as in East Los Angeles, there are the same pastel bungalows. There are the same leggy poinsettia and the same trees of pink and yellow hibiscus. There are the same laundromats, body shops, strip shopping malls, the same travel agencies offering bargain fares….the signs of promise, on Beverly Boulevard as on Pico as on Alvarado and Soto. ¡No más baratá! …There is the sound that of the car radio, tuned in my case to KRLA, an AM station that identifies itself as ‘the heart and soul of rock and roll’ and is given to dislocating programing concepts, for example doing the tops hits of … 1962. Another day, another KRLA concept: “The day the Music Died”, an exact radio recreation of the day that in 1959 when the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper crashed … such tranced hours are, for many people who live in Los Angeles, the dead center of being there . . . . ”

Joan Didion
from “Pacific Distances”

— Happy Birthday 80th Birthday, Joan Didion

From Viewfinder to Frame

IT’S BEEN quite a kick (and scene-change) getting ready for the L.A. Pix, Still show that’s opening this weekend.
Just a few visual notes from prep last week. Finalizing images, purchasing and prepping prints and images.

The show is at the artist-run space, Doc-u-ment Coffee & Tea at 3850 Wilshire Blvd #107; It opens Dec. 7, 6-8pm — Koreatown.

Thanks, Elon and Alan, for all of the assist in helping jet-lagged, wandering-reporter me get this all together in no time.