Monday, February 16, 2009

Struggle in LaLa Land

So, contrary to my deeply held belief system, it turns out the Los Angeles really does exist. I know! I too was floored! It's not just a well kept secret, it's out there! It's real! Well, sort of real. Kind of real. Diet-Real. But kind of sort of maybe possibly real, none the less. And it's prrrrreeeettttyyy. So that's me proven wrong, at least on that one count. A rarity, to be sure, so note it down.

However, what I was NOT proven wrong about was my equally deeply held belief that LA, despite it's bright and shiny exterior, is a huge struggle. For example, people say it's a city. I'm sure they even believe it to be a city. In their sweet, dumb, hemp covered California hearts this delusion comforts them at night as they stare through the haze of smog and pot smoke at the ozone burning up through the atmosphere at sunset. As they gaze upon the sprawling monster of a city, hidden by peaks and valley and gang territories it looks like a game of shoots and ladders, all of the highways and streets bisecting the mountain ranges. But this, my friends, this is not a city, no, no indeed. This is just an obese suburb that wont stop eating. Everyone in LA asked me when I was coming out there to stay, and all I could think was, really, you actually want more people to come out here? So that the traffic can get even worse? Because that's something they aren't lying about, the traffic. It's awful. That's a struggle right there. Millions of people means millions of cars in a "city" where without a car you might as well never leave the house for all the places you can get to. I have never walked less in a city. I honestly can say that my best workout was wandering around the LACMA Art Museum. Plus I had to stretch my neck a lot, thinking all those deeply important and profound thoughts about art. So at least I had that.

Now, I can honestly say that most people in LA actually were quite beautiful, though if you're coming from not-Yale the bar is set pretty damn low. LA has a way of making you feel fat and pasty regardless of your actual level of athleticism and skin tone. My brother, who was a saint and drove me all around the city, took me to Barney's near Rodeo Drive and as I marveled at the 100 dollar plain white t-shirts and 600 dollar sweaters that looked like they had been the bedding for a community of homeless men for more then a year, I realized that though my weight and appearance hadn't changed the moment I walked in the store, my perception of myself had. Dramatically. I hated everything I was wearing, I realized my hair was better suited to one of the witches from Roman Polanski's Macbeth and I never wanted to eat again if it meant I could lose three sizes. Then I got a frantic text from my brother who alerted me to the fact that Kayne West was in the building. I charged up the stairs, thinking, well at least this is some cardio, and hid behind a display to spy at Kanye as he flipped through racks of horrendously expensive clothing and his entourage following from a discreet distance. As I crouched lower behind a Marc Jacobs mannequin all I could think was, what the hell am I doing? I'm hiding from sunglasses-display-model Kanye West in a Barney's in Beverly Hills. I should be doing my homework right now. I should be thinking about Brecht. Instead I'm thinking about just how odd looking this person is and hoping his Entourage doesn't throw my ass out of Barney's.

And that's the thing about LA. Everyone wants to be famous, and everyone wants to be friends with someone famous or see someone famous. People collect brushes with celebrity like trading cards, stories to trot out to underline just how LA they are, how cosmopolitan, how exciting and excellent it is to live in a non-city removed from all normal weather patterns and thought processes. And it may be all those things. Certainly lots of people absolutely adore living there, and if you want to make movies, or money, or a combination of the two, it's the place to be. It's filled with fit smiling well dressed people and beaches. I mean, hell, it's literally called the city of angels, right? Heavenly as it might be, I couldn't help but heave a sigh of relief as I landed in New York and was once again a part of a cold, rushed struggle for my train back to New Haven. Dark, gloomy, crowded and pasty as it might be, with a large coffee and a bagel in hand, that was a struggle I could get behind.

Song of the weekend? Awesome French Pop Princess Yelle. Thanks Alex! See her super cute video on youtube:

1 comment:

  1. Hans Sedlmayr On Peasants in Bruegel: "They are all manifestations of life in which the purely human borders on other, 'lower' states that threaten, dull, distort, or ape its substance."