Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I want to preface this blog with the knowledge that I'm visiting very specific locales in Los Angeles, so my view is limited; but here is what I've noticed. It works. This city is organized, efficient, productive, active, and working. I've made a point to get out and ride the metro, which was not here when I was growing up; and ride the buses, which I did ride in my teens. The first thing I've noticed was how clean everything was, how easy it was to find my way around after all the years I've been gone, and how well organized the city is overall. If I go by what is on the news, I have an impression that America is falling apart; that our collapse as a country is imminent. I believe that there are parts of this country that are a mess, but traveling around LA this past week on my own, I experienced a vibrant city that seems to be running just fine. Although there are certainly places, even here, that are struggling with crime, poverty, lack of facilities and services; at least some of Los Angeles is working. Everywhere I went, people were moving around shopping, riding transport, eating, living, and going about the days of their lives. It made me realize that the way to find out what is really going on in the world really is to get out in that world and find out for yourself. I don't think there is any news that accurately portrays the feel of a city, state, country when you are sitting on the metro, riding on a bus, standing in a line for a movie, sitting in a square with other people of that city watching a free show. I will also add that the people I've been in contact with, strangers for the most part, have all been helpful. They answered my questions, and some of them on the metro and the buses even went as far as to talk with me; like the young girl on the bus to Glendale who I asked directions from, and she ended up talking with me about growing up in Glendale and how the city had changed. And the man on the bus stop who made of point of seeing that I got off the bus at the right stop. The one down note I will add is that this; people here do not smile as a automatic response. Smiling is either part of their job, or something they have to think about before they do it. In Hawaii, smiling is almost an automatic reflex, and if you're not smiling, it's noticed and weird. People ask you what's wrong if you don't have a smile on your face. Here smiling is definitely optional. The other thing I've noticed is that everything seems to be geared to distract you from yourself. Everyone is moving all the time. There is no sense of stillness, of introspection, of time or place to meditate on where you are going or why. There seems to be an underlying angst to this city. Los Angeles is a wind-up doll that looks pretty and dances well; but ultimately is just able to do what she is programmed to do, and she will not lift her arms to reach for the moon on a starless night for no reason.

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