Wednesday, March 16, 2011

48 Hours in the City of Angels

The people hold up a smog blanket on the crowns of their heads. I can only see a kilometre around at any given moment. Its disorienting.
Everything is spread out here, LA is the sprawl. I have this yearning to draw it all in towards me, to bring this playboy city to a more manageable size.


I don't think I could bare to see Cedars Sinai, big Star of David a-hover. I'm afraid the hospital might appear around a sudden corner, I avoid it like a regrettable past lover. Cedars Sinai became a part of my life through a fate of misfortune, as did LA, and the Hollywood Hills through the window of my Liza Minelli suite. This time is different though; I have chosen to be here, returning to make amends and meet in the middle, to open a silent dialogue with a city that pretends not to know me. This is my dignified (upright) return.


And so it begins.

Impressions of LA:


Big cars.
Big servings.
Big (often fake) breasts.
We all know this about America, everything comes super-sized. Food portions and cars in particular. My lord, they love their SUVs. Big motherfuckers of cars on big motherfuckers of multi-lane highways. (I'm told 50% of the surface of LA is dedicated to car space - roads, carparks etc.). Car is the true king here, God help the pedestrian.

I've always imagined the US as a place that existed only in the media, as this great Eye-of-Mordor, the epicentre of power, the diadem of the modern world n all that, where normal people surely couldn't reside (awks maybe?). Silly, I know. I just found it hard to imagine (even though I spent two weeks in hospital in LA last year - that felt like a separate world, as I never left its walls). I think though, that looking like a packhorse, combined with a perpetually confused expression on one's face, attracts sympathy. That, or people in LA, or just in general, are pretty lovely. People's general willingness to help, and share a table and chatter at a cafe, made me feel at ease when I might normally have felt very alone upon arrival.

LA is extremely spread out. There is really no city centre, just various suburban hubs. Luckily, Elin, my host, had a car and found in me a good reason to procrastinate over study. I squished a nice amount of "looking" and "doing" into my 48 hours. A short theatre piece, Venice Beach - rollerblades, b-boys and kush doctors (so much kush), the Grove - felt like Westfield's answer to Disneyland, dinner at an American diner, the Farmers Markets, yadda yadda..

Oh, and the fact that the legal drinking age is 21 in the US slipped my mind COMPLETELY. "Do you have an ID, Caitlin? You'll need one", "of course... oh." How dare America make me feel so young. Lucky there's always bloody marys at home.

It seems LA has a thriving arts scene which is quite separate from the more visible Hollywood glitz. I could happily explore this place more, and would undoubtedly find a heap of wonderful people doing amazing things, but now its to Mexico: Pobre Mexico, tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos, "Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States" - General Porfirio Diaz. (Thanks Gregg)

And now I walk into the shadow of the giant...

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