Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Merging In L.A.

Los Angeles, CA

I say this a lot, but it's true. L.A.'s a weird place. We have more of our fair share of murder-suicides, ubiquitous religious child porn cases, and the far too common shooting of a child.

Maybe it's because we're so spread out. We can't understand each other, see how everyone else lives. Stuck in our houses and apartments, Westside or East. South Bay or North Hills. Folks in San Pedro don't hang with people in the Palisades.

Los Angeles eats people. For a lot of folks it's a meat grinder. We have to stick together, but we don't know how. Community is elusive. Empathy just a word. I've always thought Bret Easton Ellis captured it perfectly in the first line of his novel Less Than Zero. "People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles."

I have a complicated love / hate relationship with this town that I haven't fully parsed out. On the one hand I hate the crime, the pollution, the sheer magnitude of so many people crammed into one place. On the other hand I love the crime, the pollution, the sheer magnitude of so many people crammed into one place. I can't explain it.

But for all its incoherent scrabblings toward community, there's an odd solidarity sometimes. I caught this over at Order In The Court the other day.
To my right are two nicely dressed Chinese kids, Abercrombie types. To the left, a pair of attorneys stand discussing what sounded like a statutory rape rap for a client that wasn't going well.

A couple floors down, a pelon cholo gets on, wearing baggy shorts in spite of the 42 degree heat outside. He's got the Dodgers logo tatted under his Adam's apple, "City of Angels" on the back of his neck and script ink where his eyebrows used to be.

Another floor below that, an LAPD detective in a suit, his badge and his strap visible on his belt, hustles for the door. The veterano puts his hand out and holds the elevator for the cop. The attorneys keep yakking away.
Any other day these guys might all be more than 50 miles from each other. Some might be pulling triggers at the others. But in a crowded elevator in an L.A. court they're all the same.

Just people. It's good to remember that, sometimes.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Be glad for the ambivalence. Sometimes you just plain hate the place you live.