Friday, November 09, 2012

Bitchey Brew

LA Remembered: Bullock's Wilshire
The LA of today is a strange animal; it hasn't forgotten its past, it's erased it. For locals, it's a source of nostalgia and bitterness.

My friend -- a native Angeleno now in DC -- was in town this week and we got caught up. Reveling in the LA weather and bitching about the DC food -- "the Chinese food, forget it. Worse than Panda express" -- we were standing near Sawtelle and Olympic at 2:30 on a Tuesday. I looked west down Olympic, then east; the traffic was backed up a good 3 blocks. I pointed it out to him and he just shook his head.

2:30. On a Tuesday. Seriously?

It's funny; EVERYONE trashes LA, and yet EVERYONE comes here. The locals have been overrun, and yet recently I've met a few and always raise the issue; "Not many of us left. Seems everyone's from New York or Chicago... anywhere but here."

Playa Vista conserves water: Yes they're plastic.
Drive down Lincoln these days by the marina and it's insane. HUGE, Blade Runner condos. Then there's the Playa Vista Stepford community reified in all of its banal horror, down to its plastic plants. What befits plastic people and their plastic lives more than plastic living?

And they've stacked these plastic Stepfords high, everywhere. Hank -- a local -- told me that they stack these nuvo Italo  monstrosities on top of a garage, that way they don't have to dig underground parking. When I got back a couple months ago, I went deep into the bowls of this horror show looking for a Coffee Bean to get caffeine and a work spot. Instead, I got coffee and walked around; it felt more fake than a studio lot, hyper fake, and with a cynical sneer. Another plastic duo with a kid comes into the cross hairs and it's time to cue This Circle Jerks' classic.

The LA of my childhood was so cool. Westwood Village used to cordon off the entire Village when it was a unique place, full of entrepreneurs. Huge crowds would just walk around everywhere. That some locals point to the shooting of that Japanese American gal as the beginning of the end, but I think it was something else; big commercial gentrification. Like ivy, the big corporations -- Music Plus, McDonald's 7 Eleven, The Wherehouse... -- all set up shop and stomped out the personality that was The Village. It became just like any other place with the same stores. It was boring.

Hollywood's always been seedy, but if you knew where to go it was living history. Larry Edmunds, of course, and Hollywood Book and Poster were must go destinations. I still have all my stills and one sheets. Musso & Franks, always over-rated food-wise in my book, but just dripping with history. And of course the Strip and its clubs and the off Strip clubs like the Starwood, the Palladium....

Then there was Mecca: Tower Records, where a limo would pull up and out would pop Nicolas Cage to shop. The locals were all, "eh," but you could always tell the noobs and tourists, falling out gawking.

It's the same thing with movie shoots. You come up here and it's all, "ho hum." Outsiders think movie making is SO glamorous. It's not. It's really boring watching peeps just standing around getting time and a half at scale.

The worst is what our politicians have let happen in terms of influx. There are, simply, too many mofos here. The locals are all old farts like me, dying out or simply sick of all the jerkoffs and have left. But what do the politicians do to alleviate the density? Why, they kiss the developers' big collective ass and let them overdevelop what used to be one cool city. In other words, their answer to over density is to bring in more mofos.

At least New York is compact and they have trains running everywhere. Not LA, as dystopian a city as any, with a unique breed of crazy. I still love it, there's simply no place like this weird experiment, the most diverse place in the world and yet wildly segregated. Gang central. Hollywood. Skid Row. The beaches. America's homeless capitol. The great architecture, the weather, the big toe shootin' up in your boot grub... The LA girls - yes, that much is true.

Still, it ain't like the old days.
The greatest theater in the world, in the old LA.