The City of Angels

After visiting Orland in 2012, I flew down to Los Angeles to see a friend.

I had been dreading a little this part of the trip. Tremendously excited to see my friend, yes, but less so to see Los Angeles. My brain had been warped by James Ellroy’s gritty noir tales oddly juxtaposing with glamorous visions of Hollywood. I was expecting seedy streets and beautiful people, decadence and despair not seen since pre-revolutionary France.

Picture of hills around Hollywood in Los Angeles, California

Hollywood Hills

And, in a way, that’s what I found. Poor neighborhoods–slums, really–and overpriced tourist areas. Trendy, arty clusters in a sea of suburbia. Groceries and chain restaurants and malls abutting movie studios and Lexus dealerships.

Image of Hollywood sign in in Los Angeles, California

Obligatory Hollywood picture

Hollywood was neither glamorous nor beautiful. Unathletic men in Batman and Captain America costumes shilled for money on the sidewalks while the Church of Scientology’s art deco building loomed on the horizon. Homeless people slept along the Walk of Fame, their meager belongings spread out across the accolades of millionaires.

Image of Hollywood in Los Angeles, California

Hollywood

The Hollywood and Highlands Center was a strange homage to dynastic Egypt, with the idolatry of chain stores replacing that of the pharaoh.

Image of Hollywood and Highlands Center in Los Angeles, California

Hollywood and Highlands Center

Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills was lined with Cartier, Armani, and Bulgari, but the shoppers were tourists who had scrimped and saved for months to afford a small trinket of opulence with which to impress their friends back home.

Image of Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, California

Beverly Hills

Downtown was eerily vacant. The Music Center was a strange glimmer of modernity in an otherwise stagnant ghost town.

Image of downtown Los Angeles, California

Downtown LA

Image of the Music Center in Los Angeles, California

The Music Center

Olvera Street–the oldest part of Los Angeles–was lively and colorful, businesspeople mixing with curious tourists. The Avila Adobe, though, was empty, despite its free entry and its distinction as the oldest standing residence in LA. Tourists were much more interested in the overpriced taquitos outside the museum than the history inside of it.

Picture of Olvera Street in Los Angeles, California

Olvera Street

Picture of the Avila Abode in Los Angeles, California

Inside the Avila Abode

This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my time in the City of Angels. Santa Monica was hypnotic with energy, from the pier’s spinning Ferris Wheel to the open-air restaurants and swarming people of all nationalities and resources.

Picture of Santa Monica's pier in Los Angeles, California

Santa Monica pier

Picture of a fountain in Santa Monica in Los Angeles, California

Around Santa Monica

Hermosa Beach, too, was a welcomed sight. Less populated beaches, blue skies, and a laid-back mentality.

Picture of Hermosa Beach in California

Hermosa Beach

Maybe, in the end, LA is just like any other city. A lot to love, a lot to hate. Wealth and poverty, residents and tourists, activity and idleness all tied up in the same few square miles.

Have you been to LA? What’d you think?

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7 thoughts on “The City of Angels

      • Easily the 1992 riots have been the low point of my stay in LA. was lucky enough to live in Hermosa Beach for a couple of years and now I live about 45 miles north of there on the LA/Ventura County Line.

        As a salesperson/manager a good chunk of my career has been spent traveling all over the Southland. (Greater LA). I love that LA has layers. Just below the surface are multitude of stories and rich history. Most people think of LA as a concrete jungle but we are surrounded by Mountains, the Pacific Ocean, Lakes, Deserts, Rivers and lot’s of sunshine. More and more I love Downtown LA. When I first moved here Downtown was a cluster of tall buildings that emptied out at night. Slowly that is changing. As for the worst? I could go on a rant about traffic but that’s life in the big city suck it up. Earthquakes aren’t fun but I don’t miss blizzards or tornado’s.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I lived in Alaska for a while, so definitely understand your feelings on earthquakes. I’d take them over tornadoes for sure.

        I’m glad to hear downtown is getting more active. It was very attractive, but completely vacant when I was there.

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      • On your next visit see if they are having an Art Walk in downtown. It would be a perfect contrast to your previous visit.

        Like

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