city of angles

L.A. by the numbers, so far:

Number of minutes elapsed between leaving the LAX baggage and being approached by my first cultist:Two
Number of cultists to approach me, total, while on the grounds of LAX:Three (two ISKCON, one Transcendental Meditationalist)
Number of people to tell me that I need to eat at “the Japanese restaurant on the top of the hill”:Three
Number of people who can remember the name of the Japanese restaurant on the top of the hill:Zero
Number of blocks from the Bradbury Building (3rd and Broadway) and the Disney Concert Hall:Six
Number of minutes necessary to walk those six blocks:15
Number of homeless men who tried to block my path at the corner of Los Angeles and Fourth:Six
Average temperature:74 degrees farenheit
Seconds elapsed between parking my car on Sunset, realizing that I had no change, running into a Mrs. Fields Cookies to break a $1 bill, and returning to the car to find a meter maid already writing me a ticket:60, tops
Length in seconds of the lecture the meter maid gave me on the importance of keeping a ready pocketful of change:90, minimum
Number of photos taken (so far):62

Quick impression so far: a candy-colored outer shell wrapped around a core that’s rotted straight through. Which is not to say that I’m not having a good time here (quite the opposite) or that it’s not often beautiful (exquisitely so) but it’s just hard to avoid noticing that L.A.’s suburban parts work, and its urban ones don’t, full stop. Old Downtown, the only area that really registers to me as a “city” as I understand the concept, resembles nothing so much as Bridgeport, CT or Camden, NJ (…or Siem Reap, Cambodia): the money went elsewhere decades ago, and it’s never, ever coming back.

…which is not, honestly, intended as hostile criticism, or at least mostly not: cities live and cities die, and I don’t pretend to have the background to cogently address how it happened. Mostly it’s just a little dislocating (and occasionally fun) to have my normal expectations about how to approach a place (e.g. anything in a roadside mall is skippable; look to the center for the cool stuff) turned nearly perfectly around.

More later.

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