I am in a hotel in Los Angeles watching a particularly good episode of Boardwalk Empire. I often wish that I lived in places that I visit. I felt this way as the plane flew over the city and landed at LAX. The downtown is generic, sterile, but the sprawl of the rest of the city seems strangely alluring. These thousands of houses spread out across miles and miles, suburbs, neighborhoods with strange Spanish names, the kind of places you would never see in New York.
New York is the stuff of the modern, the cutting edge, the frenetic artery of popular culture. Los Angeles is just ... the place where you always imagine life will be better and worse at the same time. I want to run away to LA so that one day I can complain about it. Wanting to move to LA makes me feel slightly young again. At least I want something. The thing is: LA exists as myth in my mind because it can still be the place I run away to and start a new life. It's a blank slate in a megacity on the ocean. Anything could happen. I could move here. Buy a car. Roll down the window. Drive by chain restaurants that serve Mexican food. Listen to KROQ. Drive up the mountains to Laurel Canyon. Maybe I can find where Joni Mitchell lived when she wrote The Hissing of Summer Lawns. Or where Neil Young (channeling Charles Manson) wrote:
"Well, I hear that Laurel Canyon / is full of famous stars
But I hate them worse than lepers / and I'll kill them in their cars."
Being here makes me want to watch Thom Anderson's legendary and disappeared-from-existence documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003).
LA was also the place of Jane's Addiction, Tool, Guns'n'Roses, the Germs, the Doors, and X.
And oh yeah, one more thing: Fuck San Francisco.
In honor of L.A., two songs, both excellent air guitar anthems:
"Los Angeles" by X
"L.A. Woman" by the Doors.