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People & Places

BEST JACARANDA STROLL Los Angeles 2009 

Jacaranda trees at Hope and Flower

"L.A. is the cruelest town," musician Loudon Wainwright III has said. "You're in a car all the time and the weather is kind of unrelenting. That blue, California weather." To live in Los Angeles is to live in ignorance of snow — the experience of white powder descending on a city, urbanity reinterpreted as pianissimo, buried under verses of sparkling ice. Here, the notion of cold is relative; foggy mornings, a brisk October wind, rain in November. In April, when the jacaranda trees bloom like fierce violet fires, the city lets down its hair: Dainty blossoms paint a second draft of the city, which makes you wonder if we've been living in black-and-white. The juncture of Hope and Flower — with all the city's music on its back, running like a scoliotic spine behind The Mark Taper Forum, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and Disney Hall — is lined with jacarandas. When in bloom, petals a shade of purple that only recurs in children's clothing and certain pastel-colored candies, they transform the street into a study of tree figure and form, a Hockney painting realized in the middle of downtown L.A.

—Erica Zora Wrightson

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