Thursday, April 19, 2012

Too Complicated for Words

Inspired by J. Michael Walker's literary map of Los Angeles, I decided to compile a handful of my favorite quotes about Los Angeles and make a collage out of them. I wanted to try to represent what Los Angeles means to me using the words of others - from writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald to popular culture celebrities like Mary-Kate Olsen to eccentric authors like Andy Warhol as well as a combination of others - in order to detail its multi-faceted nature. Everyone has a different opinion of Los Angeles, yet anyone who has lived in L.A. can understand how the other feels, no matter how different the attitude. L.A. is a melting pot of opinions, ideals, personalities, types. Some of the quotes are ones I have had written down for a long time while others were discovered on the internet when I decided to expand my idea. I identify with each of them respectively, but only when viewed as a whole do they represent my Los Angeles.

I would like to attribute the quote that is most meaningful to me in the bunch to J. Michael Walker, because if it did not appear on his literary map, I probably would not have stumbled upon it. The quote is from John Fante, and it goes: "Los Angeles, give me some of you! Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town!" I find those words incredibly beautiful and poetic, because to me L.A. is so multifaceted, there are no words to speak of it, but to speak to it is a different story. L.A. is like a person, our own moody little friend that we spend time with day in and day out and aren't ever sure what it will bring. To talk about Los Angeles as a "sad flower in the sand" behind it's back would feel like somewhat of a betrayal to it, it is too delicate even amidst its chaos. Los Angeles is absolutely a "pretty" town, and the word "pretty" can mean so many things. It is "pretty" in the sense that the landscape (in certain areas) is beautiful, it is also "pretty" in the sense that appearance means so much in Los Angeles, the people are "pretty," the trends are "pretty," the glossy magazine photos of stars strutting the streets are "pretty," the idea of chasing one's dreams in the City of Angels is "pretty." Los Angeles is a gem between desert-land in one direction and the cow-land that surrounds it all the way to Northern California. And to ask Los Angeles to "give me some of you" is such a beautiful and interesting thought. Los Angeles is unattainable. It draws people in but gives away none of itself. It is not homey, it is not cozy, it does not lend out its arms in the motherly way that many towns do; yet it is not uninvitingly urban or industrious like New York - it is mysterious. To some, it gives back what it put into it, and to others it gives nothing back to hard work and determination. It depends a lot upon luck, about ties and making the right connections. Ultimately, to many who come to Los Angeles, no matter how "pretty" the town is, it is no more than a "sad flower in the sand." But that is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I see it as a beautiful thing. It is dangling there, waiting for people to inhabit it, to make their own land of opportunity.

The John Fante quote is just one of many quotes I drew from in making the collage. I wanted to make sure to represent Los Angeles' beauty, it's zest for life and it's undeniable amount of opportunity. To do that I used several different quotes, one of which being Frank Lloyd Wright's "Tip the world on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles." Los Angeles attracts "loose change" type of people, people who don't particularly mind where they will fall, people who are not afraid to leave home and try something different; something new and exciting. Another one I used to capture the enchanting feeling of Los Angeles is a quote by Tom Bradley: “People cut themselves off from their ties of the old life when they come to Los Angeles. They are looking for a place where they can be free, where they can do things they couldn’t do anywhere else.” That is an important thing to recognize, and judging by my experience in Los Angeles and the people I have met here, that seems to be true. Another is a quote by actress Jennifer Love Hewitt, one where she speaks of coming to Los Angeles and finally feeling that she fit in somewhere. "When I came to Los Angeles, it was the first time that I ever felt like I belonged somewhere. Not because I was wacky, but because people here understood what it felt like to perform, and there were other kids my age who wanted to do it. I didn't get looked at as God, you freak." Since the original reason I came to Los Angeles was to act, I very much identify with that quote. People in Los Angeles do know what it feels like to perform. They know the rush of adrenaline that comes with not only being on stage or in front of a camera, but the kind that comes from being motivated to do something you love, to get up in front of people and perform - whether it be in the board room, in their writing, or creating cuisine at a gourmet restaurant. There is an energy about Los Angeles that isn't found quite anywhere else.

And, of course, I had to represent the more negative aspects of Los Angeles. There is the Rona Barrett quote "Pick your enemies carefully or you'll never make it in Los Angeles," which is so true, because even though Los Angeles is large, the circles are small, and to step on someone's toes in the industry you want to go in would be very damaging. I also have a humorous quote from David Letterman poking fun at the city's lack of seasons, “Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees," among many others.

In short, the collage represents the complexities that make up the way I feel about Los Angeles from the positive aspects that made me fall in love with the city to the very difficult ones that have made me contemplate leaving and returning to Northern California after I graduate. I will end my post with another of my favorite quotes on the collage, one by Miranda Richardson, that sums up how I feel about the city: “You can have a laugh in Los Angeles, or you can weep in Los Angeles, depending on your attitude towards it."

-- Jordan Younger

1 comment:

  1. Wow this is amazing!! I love the John Fante quote too. It is great to see how inspired you were to go and make something like this. I love it!