LA, 1999

At Latitude 33 in Laguna Beach, CA 92651, I saw this book called Exile or Exiles with writings about Los Angeles by famous people. I read the preface waiting for Brenda at the end of her shift at the bookstore. It said that intellectuals don’t choose LA: those who lived there had no such intent when they first landed there: like me, they were heading elsewhere, meant to leave soon. Then they got stranded for some reason or other, like a woman who didn’t want them back to some distant planet. It explained also that once they had seen “this” they didn’t mind staying after all, and what they meant by “this” was the powdered light bathing the city of Our Lady of the Angels.

Oh glorious light of the early mornings at Caspers Wilderness Park! (The deer stares at you with nonchalance from under the sycamores and the gliding vulture craves with grace for your bones).

I saw the light, I saw the light,
No more darkness, no more night,
Now I’m so happy, No sorrow in sight,
Praise the Lord, I saw the light! (Hank Williams)

And the heat, the heat that comes with the light, my waking up without those aching joints that plagued my thoughtful Cartesian Amsterdam winter as well as my gusty Cambridge nights. Wading through the kelp and being trashed by the surf on All Saints Day! Why would you ever get back to where you supposedly belong, and that you long for – for some stupid and silly and crazy old reason?

Faceless LA, with some cultural identity in this particular block and then some other, unrelated, in the next. The land of the one million different villages from every place under the sun. The posh plush lady who used to design for Wedgewood and Royal Doulton, sipping Napa Valley nectar on this one side of the road, and on the other, the gang of locals speaking another tongue spraying their bullets at each other across the alley.

Oh My Lady of the Angels, your non-descript urban sprawl without a town allowed me to remain whatever it is that I am and call myself. When no other place had any taste for having me around, you Pasadena, CA 91107 (all zip codes kindly and automatically provided by Microsoft Inc.), you hugged me in a welcoming embrace while it was feeling cold within my heart.

[Thanks Jack!]

One thought on “LA, 1999”

  1. Si vous ne connaissez pas:

    Mike Davis, City of Quartz – Los Angeles, capitale du futur, 1997.
    Traduit de l’américain par Michel DARTEVELLE, Marc SAINT-UPÉRY
    Édition originale : City of quartz
    Collection : La Découverte Poche / Sciences humaines et sociales (n°89)

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