LA (in english…as promised)

You’ll start liking Los Angeles as soon as you get rid of this crazy idea that Los Angeles is a city. LA is actually an immense galaxy of 13 million people of many different origins. A big shapeless body with the freeways as arteries. A network of highways cutting across the city and connecting distant and diverse realities from the areas in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains to the beach cities on the Pacific Ocean, from the golden ghettos like Beverly Hills to the Gangs ghettos.

First rule if you live in Los Angeles: you MUST have a car. Second rule: you MUST have a car. This city has been the guinea pig of the American car industry powerful lobby which smashed with no mercy all rail and underground public transportation projects. There are about 27 million cars in LA, the most polluted city in the US. Freeways and highways can be a daily nightmare but they also have a sort of magnetic charm as they become wider and wider…4, 6, 8, 10 lanes or when they narrow down and twist in such unrealistic way. They also have legendary names…Ventura Highway, Pacific Coast Highway.

Many cities are considered attractive because of their contradictions. Then LA is fantastic and fragile paradox:  built on San Andreas fault in a water scarce area still it is the city with the highest number of swimming-pools in the whole world. It’s the third richest metro are in the world but almost 3 million people have no health insurance and 1.5 million live below poverty line. It enjoys 330 days of sun a year and suffers from flooding and landslides. It is the place where Afro-American Tom Bradley was elected mayor for 5 consecutive times (as from 1973) and where racial riots broke out when the police brutalized Afro-American Rodney King. It is home for almost 2 million people from El Salvador (almost 1/4 of the inhabitants of this country) and there are more Armenians than in Yerevan. There is Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Chinatown, Teherangeles, Filipinotown. There even 70.000 people from Laos. And of course 25 million tourists every year who come to see what they see in films, in TV, what they hear about in songs.

Raymond Chandler defined LA as “the big hard boiled city, with no more personality than a paper cup”. Maybe Los Angeles – originally El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula – is a container of scarce value…but the content is very strong and addictive.

 

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