Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Bruce Bliven on Los Angeles

“Here is the world’s prize collection of cranks, semi-cranks, placid creatures whose bovine expression shows that each of them is studying, without much hope of success, to be a high-grade moron, angry or ecstatic exponents of food fads, sun-bathing, ancient Greek costumes, diaphragm breathing and the imminent second coming of Christ.”

—Bruce Bliven, The New Republic, 1927

To Live and Die in L.A.

I’m a big fan of the movie and I listen to the soundtrack with this song on it all the time but somehow I had never seen this video until Ian Petrie tweeted it to me last night. I’m glad he did.

Werner Herzog on Los Angeles

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“What I like about Los Angeles is that it allows everyone to live his or her own lifestyle. Drive around the hills and you find a Moorish castle next to a Swiss chalet sitting beside a house shaped like a UFO. There is a lot of creative energy in Los Angeles not channelled into the film business. Florence and Venice have great surface beauty, but as cities they feel like museums, whereas for me Los Angeles is the city in America with the most substance, even if it’s raw, uncouth and sometimes quite bizarre. Wherever you look is an immense depth, a tumult that resonates with me. New York is more concerned with finance than anything else. It doesn’t create culture, only consumes it; most of what you find in New York comes from elsewhere. Things actually get done in Los Angeles. Look beyond the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and a wild excitement of intense dreams opens up; it has more horizons than any other place. There is a great deal of industry in the city and a real working class; I also appreciate the vibrant presence of the Mexicans. In the last half century every significant cultural and technical trend has emerged from California, including the Free Speech Movement and the acceptance of gays and lesbians as an integral part of a dignified society, computers and the Internet, and—thanks to Hollywood—the collective dreams of the entire world. A fascinating density of things exists there like nowhere else in the world. Muslim fundamentalism is probably the only contemporary mass movement that wasn’t born there. One reason I’m so comfortable in Los Angeles is that Hollywood doesn’t need me and I don’t need Hollywood.”

Werner Herzog

Previously: Geoff Manaugh, Michael Maltzan, and Harlan Ellison on Los Angeles.

Los Angeles

L.A. at night

“Los Angeles is where you confront the objective fact that you mean nothing; the desert, the ocean, the tectonic plates, the clear skies, the sun itself, the Hollywood Walk of Fame—even the parking lots: everything there somehow precedes you, even new construction sites, and it’s bigger than you and more abstract than you and indifferent to you. You don’t matter. You’re free.”

Geoff Manaugh

(↬ Ian Bogost.)

Previously: Michael Maltzan and Harlan Ellison on Los Angeles.

Familiar and Comfortable

At first, my reaction to Los Angeles was the opposite of the reaction of most people, who find the relentlessness frightening, numbing or overwhelming. Instead, the sprawling, horizontal city-plane; the peculiar, verdant confusions of nature and garden; the mineral-like opacity of the light; and the constant pace of movement were eerily familiar and comfortable. Los Angeles felt like home.

—Michael Maltzan, No More Play

(Via P. D. Smith.)

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the cutting edge of the culture, despite the claims and pretensions of San Francisco and New York and Boston and Washington. It has all the verve and dynamism that I found in New York when I went there in 1950. Verve and dynamism that New York has lost, that Chicago wanted and for which substituted brutality and angst, that New Orleans is afraid to let loose. For me, L.A. is like a big, gauche baby with a shotgun in its mouth. It’ll do anything. And with more style, with more fire, with more Errol Flynn go-to-hell vivacity than any other city I’ve ever experienced.

Harlan Ellison

8.16.2009 New York Times Digest

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1. “While My Guitar Gently Beeps”

“When it was over, McCartney returned to his trailer for a cup of tea with soy milk and sugar. At 67, McCartney, even up close, is still unmistakably the cute one. He smiled, the lines around his eyes crinkling, and unbuttoned his jacket as he sat down. Like Starr, he volunteered that he can’t play his own game, but he suspects that if it had been around when he was a kid, he would have liked it. Would he have liked it too much? I asked. If his drive to play rock ‘n’ roll had been satiated by a 1950s Guitar Hero, would the world have been robbed of the Beatles? ‘I don’t think so,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘Knowing me and knowing my ambition.’ He thought for a bit, then added that any kid who is going to become a musician anyway won’t decide to stop with a game. ‘They’ll get the Beatles down, but then if they’re that into music, they’ll just hook up with friends, like they do, and say, let’s try to write one of our own. I think that’ll always happen.'”

2. “I Say Spend. You Say No. We’re in Love.”

“Despite the old saying ‘opposites attract,’ scholars have found that in almost every way imaginable, people tend to choose mates who look, sound and act as they do.But in the area perhaps most fraught with potential conflict — money — somehow, some way, people gravitate toward their polar opposite, a new study says.”

3. “Choosing Summer’s Last Big Read”

“The book I want is a vortex. When I lower my eyes to it, I’m sucked deep into a place more plausible than the one that surrounds me. When I look up, I want the actual life around me to look strange and original, like a brand new page in a pop-up world.”

4. “They Seem to Find the Happiness They Seek”

“Two years after the Gay Divorcee Rogers reached her apogee in Swing Time (1936). By now she has a dancer’s body as beautiful as any the screen has ever seen. The glimpses of her legs in their ‘Pick Yourself Up’ number (her calf-length skirts fly as they tap) are enough to make you gasp. Her spine can now arch and bend in many ways, all apparently full of feeling; the slenderness of her waist is always ravishing.”

5. “Big Enough to Take on the Sports World”

“‘Every male has a little bit of couch potato bravado when they’re watching sports on television,’ Mr. O’Neal said. ‘They see someone make a mistake and think, ‘I could do better than that.’ And me, as a superb athlete, I see Ben Roethlisberger throw a pass in the corner, and I think, if I had the same blocking, I could make that pass. If I’m racing Lance Armstrong 10 miles on a bicycle, and I get a 4-mile head start, I’m going to beat him. That’s what I think,’ He continued. ‘And Jerome said, “You’re out your damn mind.”’”

6. “Pandora’s Boombox”

“If industry leaders had always followed their mistrust of technology, we’d still be listening to music on 78-r.p.m. shellac, or maybe even wax cylinders.”

7. “Fat Tax”

“People’s weight is a reflection of how much they eat and how active they are. The country has grown fat because it’s consuming more calories and burning fewer. Our national weight problem brings huge costs, both medical and economic. Yet our anti-obesity efforts have none of the urgency of our antismoking efforts.”

8. “L.A. Confidential”

“Babitz loves Los Angeles the way a Parisian loves Paris, and she defends it, taking on all comers. Nathanael West, celebrated for his portrayal of the city’s spiritual vacuum, is accused of catering to Ivy League snobbery, telling the East Coast intellectuals what they think they already know. Joan Didion, though never named, is surely implicated as one of L.A.’s most eloquent detractors. And New Yorkers’ favorite put-down — that there’s no there there — grows less and less convincing as Babitz fondly depicts a one-of-a-kind setting and a frame of mind unique to it. Not only is there a there there, it’s completely unlike anywhere else.”