An introspective look at Los Angeles.
By Penny V
The roads to Los Angeles are basically paved with stars and silver-linings to those brimming with idealism, talent, dreams and the never-ending wave of passion. This shining beacon that calls forth to everyone with some dash of hope that they might just be able to make it if they try hard enough, if they get seen enough and if perhaps they meet the right people.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that in this land of superficiality there is more to it than just its theme parks, studio lots and strip joints. It is made of sporadic palm trees interspersed between state-of-the-art landmarks and silver skyscrapers; real people hidden behind costumes of shining white teeth and bodies that no longer belong to them. Illegal immigrants hoping to not be found out so they can eke out a living and give their children a better life. It is so many things and yet it is hope rising above its seedy underbelly of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.
Not unlike many others, I was there to just have a taste of what it would be like to place myself in a tailspin and simply be vulnerable to whatever it is this constant haze of ambition and desperation would bring about. It was all at once overwhelming and unsettling. This is it, this was it?
Grab a pair of sunglasses, roll down your windows and let your hair whip out behind you as you blend in. It is almost surreal, as you lay back, feet buried in the sand while at Venice Beach – looking at beautiful bodies juxtaposed against the homeless and those quirky characters, who just do whatever the hell it is they want, with no rhyme or reason. What is this place?
You feel almost star-struck coming to this alien land, because you know so much and have seen so much of it from afar, that this just can’t be it, can it? It’s funny but I just cannot explain it. I suppose it’s something akin to hero-worship. You know so much of that glossed up, spin-doctored version that the real thing cannot match up. That building that you saw regularly in a television show, that district you saw a couple of times in different movies and the stars all neatly lined up on the pavements – a walkway of acceptance and self-affirmation. Is this what people want? Is this what I want?
That’s when it started to get really beautiful for me, this Californian pipe-dream so many want. At the end of the day, when you rip off the wrapping, its firm grip on capitalism and money and all the bells and whistles that go on it, that is still all it is: people with a passion and a love to share their dreams and talent with anyone and everyone they can imagine. You see beauty in any form of expression, of the hard work people put in so they can get by and move on and hopefully end up doing what they love instead of doing what they have to do to survive.
Oh City of Angels, how you spurn so many a naive heart filled with nothing but good intentions. You still leave me thinking of you so often, long after I’ve let you – an imprint left on some part of me after walking through your grimey streets past your facade hiding conmen and that pot of gold you stole from someone’s end of a rainbow. A vision of you and your golden sands, star paved streets and friendly faces.
I’ll come back to you soon.