Friday, December 20, 2013

A fond farewell to L.A.

Los Angeles is an easy target, and the jokes are as cheap as they are deserved. The smog. The corruption. The shallow garishness of the parvenu. In fact, there is much of beauty to see here (OK, there; I'm back home now), some of it due uniquely to the city's social and historical circumstances. While I catch up on work and recover from jet lag, I'll show you a bit of it before returning to my normal programming later this week. All photos by your humble blogkeeper.

Los Angeles has some fine older buildings, though it has leveled many and done less than it might have to preserve the rest.

Its industrialists and other moneymakers caught the art bug later than did their East Coast counterparts, which means they were left to acquire unusual and eccentric pieces by European artists after the artists' major works had been scooped up by rich, socially ambitious collectors in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington.

The Norton Simon Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art have excellent collections of Asian art, and the Getty has all kinds of good things, both at its main museum and also at the Getty Villa. And you may have heard about the city's sunsets and magnificent trees. Have a good night. I'll be back.

(A weather-related note: I began this journey in Chicago, where the locals went out in T-shirts when temperatures hit the low 50s. I ended it in Los Angeles, where Angelenos shivered in coats, hats, scarves, and gloves in 60-degree weather my first two days in town. The United States is one big country.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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11 Comments:

Blogger seana graham said...

It's a great city, and I'll take on all comers on that.

December 20, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You'd be surprised how many people knock it. Or maybe you wouldn't be. I've received at least one "Oh, I hate L.A." since I got back.

It's an odd city, that's for sure, with few of the communal centers and gathering places that many cities have. But it has managed to do well for itself, I'd say.

I bought one of Kevin Starr's books of California history while I was there. Beyond that, I would love to know why Los Angeles developed the way it did. That was the subject of some lively discussion at this evening's wine tasting at the P&P.

December 20, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Have you ever lived in the Los Angeles area?

December 20, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Me? I was born there and someone or other in my family has lived there all my life. A lot of Northern Californians do look down on it. I'm not sure why, as we share many of the same traits, at least in the mind of the rest of the country.

I think my formative opinion was shaped when I was eighteen and just out of high school and I stayed there for the summer with my aunt and uncle on the westside. With a bus pass that she bought me, I got all over the county and had many strange and interesting adventures, none of them harmful.

December 20, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I wonder if any large city has been subject to such a mix of scorn and jealousy as Los Angeles has. One of my fellow wine sippers at the P&P this evening said she had detected a jealousy among Angelenos of the East Coast. I must say that in the distant past Philadelphia, then New York, and finally Chicago (and maybe San Francisco in there somewhere, too) create imposing examples for any aspiring major city to live up to.

December 20, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

It's funny, but in relationship to Northern California, I have always felt that Angelenos were impervious to scorn, which made me like them even better.

December 20, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Too involved in religious cults and trying to get into the movie industry to notice what other people were saying about them, maybe.

I'd also never heard of any kind of antagonism, mild or otherwise, between Northern and Southern Californians. I wonder if folks from the northern part of the state look on Los Angeles a bit like some people look at New York.

December 20, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Frankly, I think NorCal people think they are more serious and substantial than SoCal people, which is frankly ridiculous.

Also, I'd bet there is some carry over from my mom's era, when they used to dress up to go to San Francisco. L.A. has always been more casual in style and sometimes people are fooled by that.

December 20, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Interesting. I suppose San Francisco's rough frontier history is what, half a century further in the past than L.A.'s, which means fifty years worth of historical weight with which to look down on the southern neighbors.

I wonder if Kevin Starr's histories ever explore north-south attitudes, which arguably might be more the province of a sociologist or a humorist.

December 20, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

He might have. He certainly has written a lot about the state.

December 20, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I was sorely tempted to buy the first of his many-volume history of the state. I bought the one-volume condensed version of the whole thing instead.

December 20, 2013  

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