Saturday, October 13, 2007

It doesn't need to be made human: it's better than that.

A wondrous bit of urban Romanticism from BLDGBLOG this morning.

No matter what you do in L.A., your behavior is appropriate for the city. Los Angeles has no assumed correct mode of use. You can have fake breasts and drive a Ford Mustang – or you can grow a beard, weigh 300 pounds, and read Christian science fiction novels. Either way, you're fine: that's just how it works. You can watch Cops all day or you can be a porn star or you can be a Caltech physicist. You can listen to Carcass – or you can listen to Pat Robertson. Or both.
That's how we dooz it.

L.A. is the apocalypse: it's you and a bunch of parking lots. No one's going to save you; no one's looking out for you. It's the only city I know where that's the explicit premise of living there – that's the deal you make when you move to L.A.
The city, ironically, is emotionally authentic.

It says: no one loves you; you're the least important person in the room; get over it.
What matters is what you do there. And maybe that means renting Hot Fuzz and eating too many pretzels; or maybe that means driving a Prius out to Malibu and surfing with Daryl Hannah as a means of protesting something. Maybe that means buying everything Fredric Jameson has ever written and even underlining significant passages as you visit the Westin Bonaventura; or maybe that just means getting into skateboarding, or into E!, or into Zen, Kabbalah, and Christian mysticism; or maybe you'll plunge yourself into gin-fueled all night Frank Sinatra marathons – or you'll lift weights and check email every two minutes on your Blackberry and watch old Bruce Willis films.
Who cares?
Literally no one cares, is the answer. No one cares. You're alone in the world.
L.A. is explicit about that.
If you can't handle a huge landscape made entirely from concrete, interspersed with 24-hour drugstores stocked with medications you don't need, then don't move there.
It's you and a bunch of parking lots.

Read the rest here.


Matt Mullenix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Mullenix said...

Fantastic and terrifying. Yet one more reason I'd rather live in La. than L.A.

Nice writing though!

kookaburra said...

I've lived there, & it's true.

Then again, no one cares & you're alone in the world wherever you are. I guess other places sport a more deceptive veneer?

Moro Rogers said...

Umm, yeah, I live there too...but I don't really expect to fit in anywhere. Why should I?
People who go places thinking everyone will finally accept them are pretty dumb.

Rebecca K. O'Connor said...

Sometimes it takes a concrete city and silicon beauty to remind one that no one ever arrives and no one ever really understands you. We are completely alone and yet surrounded by a such vast crush of bodies that standing out is impossible here. I think in this space you are forced to be honest with the simple fact that you write (act, paint, design) because you cannot stop yourself. If you could stop yourself- you would have a sensible passion that didn't involve wearing your heart on you sleeve, like say, accounting. Los Angeles is tough love. I respect it for that. (and not for much else)

Matt Mullenix said...

These comments are heartbreaking.

Isolation and anonymity are not inevitable everywhere. Fitting in and being accepted are normal human goals, and sensible--not dumb!

But being accepted is no panacea, and it's not just a matter of finding the right place. You have to make some investments in the people around you and take some risks. You have to make connections and work to maintain them. This means being open to change, and taking it on faith that change will be for the better: People who care about you want you to be your best, which is what you want for them.

This is no easier than being adrift and alone, but it's the only choice with a future.

Moro Rogers said...

Maybe 'dumb' was too strong a word. Still, I think the most I can hope for, wherever I go, is to fit in with a tiny handful of individuals.
...also I like the low humidity.=p

Matt Mullenix said...

With proper care and feeding, a tiny handful of friends will last you. :-)

Reid Farmer said...

I've spent a lot of time in LA, having lived around it for 13 years. I would agree with what Manaugh says, and then add, "Yes, but...." My perspective is that yes, the city doesn't care and there is tolerance of a wide range of behaviors, but in reality the people that practice them tend to find each other and create their own "tribes". I mean when you have a lifestyle or special interest that appeals to only a very small percentage of the population, when you spread that over 10-12 million people in the LA area that translates into hundreds or even thousands of folks who are just as weird as you are. And these people find each other (if they want to) and that becomes their social grouping.

If you enjoy growing your hair in a pompadour, wearing a white jump suit and imitating Elvis you'll find hundreds of people in LA who are just as interested in it as you are. If you want to - it's your choice. Fill in the blank with another off the wall activity and I'm sure you'll find it there.

So it's not really as grim as all that, at least in comparison with other large cities which also tend to be impersonal.

I also think that this aspect of life in Southern California is the reason that so many fashions and fads begin there and then spread to the rest of the country. The tolerance of different behavior allows for small groups of people to begin dressing, behaving, or speaking in a new way. Others pick it up and when it reaches some sort of critical mass it's picked up by the media in that media-mad town and spread to the rest of the country. Especially if someone figures out how to make money off of it.