On numerous occasions, I have tried to grasp this beautiful and heart-wrenching city in writing; Los Angeles’ ethnic essence, its strange lessons in propinquity and its many conflicts would not let me go. Aside from the obvious imagery, the stereotypes and the clichés, how does one describe Los Angeles? This is another attempt.
on moving cars and dazzling on skyscrapers, fleeting glimpses of a city
in constant traffic, crass architectural differences shown in barrios,
beachfront mansions, the interactions of immigrant workers, struggling
mothers and generations wrestling with too few resources - far beyond
the confines of two-dimensions, every inch of the diverse, ever-changing
landscape is part of a story of this city.
Lost and found
souls, trying to find their way through Los Angeles’ uncontrollability,
take comfort in the chaos. As the city grows on the characters, they
grow with it. Small villages inspired from memories of life abroad pop
up everywhere; street signs and storefronts in luminous Chinese
characters and Japanese Kanji symbols welcome visitors - beyond the
touristy Chinatown, Koreatown and Little Tokyo, new Asian enclaves have
put their pegs. Polished vinyl-tiled corridors under a string of
skylights, crème-painted walls, numbered flush doors, each with a
plastic nameplate fastened to the wall beside it.
In Pasadena and
Glendale several neighborhood blocks make up Little Armenia, the home
away from home for Armenian families. The little ones attend a private
Armenian pre-school and meet their friends at a church community center.
Commonly found are Armenian bakeries: The wonderful aroma of yeasty
bread and the window decorations of delicate, mouth-watering sweets
seduce the senses.
In the east side
of city, by the Los Angeles river, conversations shift to Spanish. A
smell of chili and grilled cheese lingers in the air. The walks are
littered with wet paper, crushed orange-drink cartons, broken glass.
Some rusting car bodies, compacted into cubes, are stacked behind a
steel-mesh fence. Large murals of arrested moments, astonishingly
three-dimensional, appear to leap out of the worn-out white-stucco
barrios with windows piled with cardboard cartons and ordinary wood
doors with weathered brass knobs and key circles, as if the tantalizing
reality of the vanished moment might somehow be seized and the first
nearly imperceptible movement detected. Everywhere, as far as the eye
can see, streets, signs, murals and shops remind of travel sights from
Life happens, we
all have our favorite L.A. stories, which have influenced us, shaped us
and helped us to discover who we are. Young voices contribute fresh
perspectives. Retro comes back into style with a twist that makes them
feel new all over again. In the image-making capital of the world,
adding our footprint in a city that is constantly reinventing itself is
maybe purpose enough.
The journey is in no way finished, the story continues…
© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2020.