By Tom H. Brooks 3
So you live in Los Angeles. Perhaps you were even born here, but more likely, you moved here with stars in your eyes to be an actor, and all I can do is wish you well and hope for your sake that you don’t get spit out the bottom of the porn industry. Perhaps you moved here from Gatlinburg, Tennessee or Walla Walla, Washington, with the dream of writing screenplays or making films or being a model. Maybe you were brought here as a child from Guatemala or the Philippines or Armenia.
It doesn’t really matter because we are all here now. This has become your hometown and it never seems to stop growing larger, indeed, it never seems to end at all. NO ONE really knows where the city of LA begins or ends. Question for my immigrant friends: when you`re stuck in gridlock traffic(pretty much everyday), whether you’re driving or on the bus, do you ever just say, “ fuck it, I’d rather be working the salt fields in El Salvador or back home plowing the rubbly fields with your aunt in Poland?” Sometimes, consequences be damned, I want to catch the next one way flight to Honduras. But that’s me. I digress.
Insane distances in Los Angeles, that is what we were talking about…explosive growth…can we keep up with it? Perhaps, perhaps not. I propose that one of the keys to understanding this vast metropolis, would be to get out there and take it in its entirety, to check out all areas and all peoples from around the globe, to learn for yourself the myriad varieties of life throughout LA, a multicultural wonderland.
Don’t just sit there in YOUR HOUSE, YOUR YARD, YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, scared to go outside and explore. GET OUT THERE with some friends and have a look around. There is much to be appreciated. People: live a little.
When was last time you stopped clutching your cell phone in a death grip, stopped driving around in your tin coffin, and actually took a walk?! Seriously, when? And I don’t mean walking around on a fucking treadmill while watching Ellen Degeneres, or going to a mall for some serious shopping. Not around your block either, a real WALK, an adventure, as it were.
Do you have any idea how GIANT this city really is? Something like 2600 square miles in LA county or some such insane number! I really can’t find concrete information, but then again, I didn’t really look. That doesn’t even include Riverside and Orange and San Diego Counties…and if it weren’t for Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, we would be literally connected as one giant city all the way to Tijuana.
Anyhow, here’s the plan, Jack……get a map of LA or a Thomas Guide or something. Pick out an area that intrigues you for some reason. Go with your instinct, use the force, whatever, just DO IT. Get in your car, drive where you want to go, get out, and take a walk. If you picked the wrong area, hopefully you are packing an extremely powerful weapon such as a .44 Magnum or an Uzi submachine gun or your car might get jacked. It’s really just a matter of dumb luck, but I happen to have a lot of that. I’m also usually skateboarding and dressed like a scumbag so it’s a whole different story, but forget that……back to you. Try it, I tell ya, it’s not so bad. I know you people aren’t doing these things now because I’m out there all the time and there’s just not that many people on the streets. Just giant SUV’s flying by with tiny drivers inside with misshapen heads, flapping their lips on the phone, swerving all over the road, and seeing finally, nothing, nothing at all.
Maybe you’re “too busy” for this mind expanding exercise. Maybe you’re rushing home to catch “Dancing with the Stars” or some stupid old rerun, because TV rules your life. Maybe you’re headed to the Grove to ride that stupid streetcar and shop at Banana Republic in a completely tame and synthetic environment. You lazy, thankless consumer, you breeder. Why don’t you go have a spinach and goat cheese salad at the Cafe and suck my ass?!
But if you can find a little time in your hectic schedule, do yourself a favor, pencil this in…oh pardon me, what am I living under a rock? Correction, add it to the datebook in your I-Phone.
Break the mold, drones. Try being a pedestrian for once. I told you before, it’s not so bad.
If you walked, you’d begin to really notice those quiet, tree-lined avenues that you usually speed down, trying to find a shortcut. You would see the old bungalows from the 20′s and 30′s in pink and tangerine and purple and sky blue. You’d notice banana leaves scraping softly on patio walls to the gurgling music of a fountain. You’d hear the song of the midnight mockingbird filtered through a heavy night mist and a full yellow moon looking down on you like a giant eye. You would learn to appreciate the incredible variety of architecture this city has to offer.
You would see the amazing abundancy of beautiful birds that fly in the city basin and the mountains and deserts and beaches all around us. And I don’t mean fucking pigeons and sparrows. I saw a goddamned roadrunner in Hancock Park once, no bullshit. At least, that’s what I think it was( or some prehistoric shit). The birds are everywhere, twittering in the trees and on the rooftops unnoticed while you thunder by in your giant, gas chugging, monster truck. Don’t get me wrong, I like to drive too, but not as much as you do.
You find off the beaten path art galleries, trails through the mountains, incredible views through a blanket of smog, maybe even a couple stars now and then. I mean in the sky.
There are fascinating landmarks and hidden bars and strange restaurants. There are places on the urban periphery, edge cities, that will make your eyes pop out of your head and your nipples stand on end like eraser heads.
There is a delicious taco stand off Alvarado Street at Park View Ave by the Mexican Consulate. I have been hassled many times by the cops there because I am the only gringo in sight and they think I am there to buy drugs. I laugh and tell them I wouldn’t need to come here for drugs, I live on Yucca Street, I am just here for tacos. I show them my lack of track marks and my 600 page book. They tell me to be careful and then they laugh and drive off.
I walk by flower strewn gardens by streaming fountains beneath night lit skyscrapers downtown. I lounge at rooftop pools where I have a cocktail in the sun. I see fiery red dawns and purple indigo sunsets, and smog and fog and blue sky. Just start paying attention and you’ll see so much more than you ever expected. And this is just LA, a microcosm of the whole world. There’s an entire planet out there but this city has a little piece of all of it.
Is this what it’s all come to? Traffic congestion beyond belief, horrendous crimes everywhere, war all the time, tract clone housing and malls springing up all over the place like poisonous toadstools? LA, a city on its back, endlessly sprawling across the desert…..so where do we go from here? Do we want to spend all our time on this earth staring at computer screens and TV screens and movie screens? Vicarious living at best, living in search of a false dream that brings as many problems as it solves….praying to our true god, the almighty dollar. Simulacra of a billion lives not being LIVED, of watchers, not DOers-all illusions. Do we really want to deny ourselves the real world that is right in front of us every single day? Do we have to listen to Dr Phil and Jerry Springer and all those goddamned judge shows? Must I listen to these stupid newscasters flapping their pie-holes about empty-headed irrelevant stories that may or may not be true? Are we supposed to be told what to think and what to care about? Must we be mind-boggled by a constant barrage of nonsense, and endless parade of subliminal advertising and reality shows and hidden cameras? Highly publicized court cases? OJ, Phil Spector etc….remember when Winona got pinched for a little fun-loving shoplifting? The football star and the famous producer can cut off heads and shoot people in the face, but we should give Pee Wee Herman the chair for roping one off in a porno shop and throw the book at Martha Stewart for a little clever stock manipulation. Everyone’s doing it , don’t ya know?! All those corporate fat cats and politicians have been balls deep in that shit for years. The secret is to NOT GET CAUGHT. But Bush/Cheney and all those shady characters can just continue to loot the country and the world through corporate channels while we just sit on our asses and let ‘em get away with it. Yes, yes it all makes sense now. Everyone is full of shit. I told you, the fun never stops.
But you, my friends; there is still hope for you if you have the vision to dream. Despite all the madness in the world, you can still get out there and see things for what they really are. Crush the doublespeak. Find the truth for yourself. Don’t let some asshole “critic” tell you what to think. Take a walk, open your eyes and ears…feel it, baby…..it’s a big world out there. Let the good times roll…..