Friday, February 10, 2012

Native v. Migrant: A Brief Manifesto

IF WE are married to L.A., then she is the love that continually cheats on us.  Somehow, we still don't have the strength to leave her.  Maybe it's her mystique, or unapologetic grit.  Or how her origins are as deeply rooted in myth as they are in fact. The steamy summers won't make us leave, the rush hour blockade can't keep us off the freeway.  It is a city that has given us the ammunition to riddle it with bullets; but somehow, we stand by its side.  We do this because it is our home.

Out of the many colorful and mind-boggling geographical nuances of LA, it is Pasadena that I understand best.  Pasadena is the city of slumber.  It lies in safe shelter, willfully disconnected from the sin that lies below the skyscrapers, yet is so close to the city that the ash and soot still can leave a bad taste in your mouth.  As  writer Alexander McClung said, Pasadena is one of the "independent health-and-pleasure towns".  Some of Pasadena's population lives in a wonderland that is almost scot-free of injustice, but as always in LA, poverty is just around the corner.  And like all makeshift shelters, the rain has the potential to break right through the ceiling.  Corrupting and corrupted youths escape into the wild night unnoticed.  It is a bubble that is as easy to burst as it was to blow.

Perhaps the hub of culture lies in the region that is dubbed Old Town, or Old Pasadena.  Fifty-year-old buildings are erected for the sake of creating a mythical sense of history that is either absent or has been demolished for the sake of being rebuilt.  Though LA may be an old soul, make no mistake, she's as young as they come.  People go to Old Town for music, dance, drink, and fine dining all along Colorado Boulevard.  It is like the Hollywood Boulevard we all like to remember but never really saw.

Yes, Los Angeles has never looked better or worse.  It is the place we love to hate, or hate to love, or can't remember which one it was anymore.  It is the place where culture thrives and revolutions are fought, yet we all aren't quite sure where to find them.  It is a place where musicians are made into rock legends; just don't ask any musician about it that actually lives in the city.  It is home to celebrity and parties you'd never be allowed to enter, but somehow we forgive our city for this.  We forgive her because we love her, even though some aren't bold or predictable enough to admit it.

-- Carey Uhl
Photo promoted by Legends of America

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