the devil's in the house with no escape
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The dance is over. Downtown Los Angeles.

The dance is over. Downtown Los Angeles.

Pershing Square Fountain.

Pershing Square Fountain.

Runyon Canyon Sunset.

Runyon Canyon Sunset.

"One can most properly begin by learning the local language; and the language of design, architecture, and urbanism in Los Angeles is the language of movement. Mobility outweighs monumentality there to a unique degree, as Richard Austin Smith pointed out in a justly famous article in 1965, and the city will never be fully understood by those who cannot move fluently through its diffuse urban texture, cannot go with the flow of its unprecedented life. So, like earlier generations of English intellectuals who taught themselves Italian in order to read Dante in the original, I learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles in the original.
But whereas knowledge of Dante’s tongue could serve in reading other Italian texts, full command of Angeleno dynamics qualifies one only to read Los Angeles, the uniquely mobile metropolis. Again that word ‘uniquely’…I make no apology for it. The splendours and miseries of Los Angeles, the graces and grotequeries, appear to me as unrepeatable as they are unprecedented."

The Architecture of Four Ecologies by Reyner Banham

lastreetsblog:

Dana Gabbard writes on HOLA’s great public art project that leads to student work being displayed on bus benches around the city. This set is all in the Mid-Wilshire area. Read Dana’s story, here.

"The place is rapidly…sinking into a ‘blade runner’ dystopian futurism…The air is unbreathable, the water undrinkable, the transit system impenetrable…"
– Time Out Los Angeles Guide, 1998
"Rain…usually [casues] massive flooding and [leaves] people stranded atop their vehicles or entombed in sinking homes."
– National Geographic Traveler: Los Angeles
Sky

Sky

"By 1960 Los Angeles stood at the very center of the new culture and economy of postwar America. California was now the most populous state, with the biggest delegation in congress. No wonder the Democratic party held its presidential nominating convention in Los Angeles, with Jack Kennedy, the ‘prince of glamor’, headquartered in the downtown Biltmore Hotel. The seductive suburban "Southern California Lifestyle," in architecture, recreational sports, automobility, and popular culture, was reproduced ad infinitum in movies, on televison, and in popular magazines such as Life, Look, Time, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Garden, and House and Garden. This cultural power was a crucial element of the entire eigth regime of 1940-92. Epitomized by the iconic ‘Case Study #22’ phogoraph by Julius Schulman, this glamor was realized as pure white against a backdrop of racial danger: hundreds of square miles of segregated urban landsacpe.”
"Ab Urbis Condita" by Philip J. Ethington

"By 1960 Los Angeles stood at the very center of the new culture and economy of postwar America. California was now the most populous state, with the biggest delegation in congress. No wonder the Democratic party held its presidential nominating convention in Los Angeles, with Jack Kennedy, the ‘prince of glamor’, headquartered in the downtown Biltmore Hotel. The seductive suburban "Southern California Lifestyle," in architecture, recreational sports, automobility, and popular culture, was reproduced ad infinitum in movies, on televison, and in popular magazines such as Life, Look, Time, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Garden, and House and Garden. This cultural power was a crucial element of the entire eigth regime of 1940-92. Epitomized by the iconic ‘Case Study #22’ phogoraph by Julius Schulman, this glamor was realized as pure white against a backdrop of racial danger: hundreds of square miles of segregated urban landsacpe.”

"Ab Urbis Condita" by Philip J. Ethington

Arts District. Hipsters must die.

Arts District. Hipsters must die.

Public vs. private. Asked to step away from this fountain/not sit at it. Owned by Macguire Properties. That’s the Library/US Bank tower behind it.

Postscript: Not allowed to lay down on a nearby bench, so security asked came back out just to tell me to sit up. Guess I oughtta peace.

Public vs. private. Asked to step away from this fountain/not sit at it. Owned by Macguire Properties. That’s the Library/US Bank tower behind it.

Postscript: Not allowed to lay down on a nearby bench, so security asked came back out just to tell me to sit up. Guess I oughtta peace.
Divinity on South Broadway

Divinity on South Broadway

Choose.

Choose.

My love.

My love.

How Am I Ever Going to Score a Good Date if I Always Have to Admit to What Number I’m Taking You Home To; or The Great Grid in the Sky

Los Angeles is a big grid (you already know). The boulevards lacing over the desert in longitudes and latitudes, neighborhoods like little nations perched on hills or flat against the land.

The numbers like the stories of a great tower, anyone riding down the street like descending in an elevator (See! Do you see?! descending in an elevator? That doesn’t even make any sense!)

I know there are other cities that have this similar numeric cypher. New York City does. But does anyone have it so down to a formula like LA does?

It’s simple, the higher the number, the worse the…everything. They say nobody knows how far down (See? See?!! Again, they say down but really the numbers are going up!) the numbers go. Some say they descend straight into hell itself. (But really, we all know. It goes to 266th Street. A friend once told me it ends in front of Palos Verdes. I said, So the myth is confirmed.)

Even my guerilla Salvadorean friend from the Valley once told me, All I know is, is that the higher the number, the darker the complexion.

Ouch.

How could we go so wrong? Quantifiable misery. The blocks sweltering under the smog like the hot gases of Jupiter. I guess the 40s don’t seem so bad then. (Even though I’ve been down there at the 70s, the 100s, a “number” of times. But it’s so quiet! Is there anyone home?)

I tried to go to Long Beach. You can take the freeway, but I don’t drive. You can take the blue line, so I did. We started at street level, where we belong, and slowly they tell you how they’ve fooled you all. The tracks rise and rise and suddenly your flying through the air and it’s iron wrought mass market pastel Americana as far as the eye can see (or as much as the eye can see through the dense midday fog). We ride the tracks and I get off sometimes, last time at Firestone. And I walk around to look up at the thing all cement and steel like the arching spine of a serpentine concrete monster lurking just below the paved city surface.

It’s ingenious. Now everyone knows where to go (or where not to go). It makes everything easier! Home values. School performance. Where to locate your business. It’s like drawing from the lottery! It’s a magic code, a language we can all speak. I’d like to order the number 2, please. Wow! So efficient!

Lies as broad as avenues, truth wavering like the lanky palms of a bygone era. Sometimes the math just doesn’t add up. How many numbers can one (one) person be expected to take care of? Expected to remember? Ha. We’ve got our own problems to worry about.

That part’s true, they really do. And the things is, it’s not all bad but it’s not all good. I forget that sometimes when I’m staring out my window watching the old abuelo and his grandson picking lemons from the tree growing on our front…strip.

Aren’t we all just a game of connect four? They stuff us in and sift us down until everything is filled. Or like tetris. They push push push down the way you might push down the garbage to make more room…for more garbage. So that’s what’s going on! Who knew? It’s the numbers that really cause all the trouble. Numbers make us mad! We don’t need economists. What we need are more mathematicians. Bring them down here and let them help us out and teach us the beauty of numbers and how they can work in so many ways and in every direction and they organize the sun and the stars and rotation of the planet and even keep our feet planted on the crumbling cement sidewalks (planted! on cement! ha.).

LA I want to add you up and see who you really are. The great grid in the sky (it must be the sky if we’re to be a city of angels).