GQ Proclaims L.A. Is Hip - Again
If another East Coast publication declares that an L.A. neighborhood is the place to be one more time, we're going to puke.
This time the January issue of GQ says downtown Los Angeles is "the new cool capital of America." It gushes that "America's next great city is inside L.A.," as if it would be somehow surprising that a global metropolis of 10 million county residents would dare have an urban core that would defy all Manhattan media stereotypes of an impossibly suburban Los Angeles.
Thank you New York. We are not worthy:
Perhaps what's most exasperating about GQ's latest affirmation is its tired framework - that downtown is a "frontier" being rediscovered by Angelenos. Perhaps the magazine never heard of Young Turks, a film that documented DTLA's punk rock - flavored arts scene of the late '70s and early '80s.
Perhaps it never read the coverage of downtown's mad gentrification - from 10 years ago. GQ says that downtown was "all but forgotten" until this latest hipster resurgence. Ugh.
But even more infuriating is the tendency of East Coast media to employ East Coast - bred writers to explore an iconic and core part of our nation as if it's a foreign land. Are there no native Southern Californians who are able to put words to paper about our community? Apparently not.
In this case, journalist Brett Martin admits the obvious:
... For somebody raised in Brooklyn through the '70s and '80s, a knee-jerk hatred of L.A. wasn't an informed choice. It was DNA.
For verification of this superiority complex, he turns to L.A. nightlife entrepreneur Cedd Moses for the quote every East Coast evaluation of L.A.'s urban import needs - a comparison to NYC. Moses:
This is going to be Manhattan.
To Martin's credit, he checks in with Brady Westwater, a longtime L.A. Weekly source and the erstwhile mayor of DTLA. But it doesn't save his piece from sounding like a Big Apple affirmation we never asked for.
GQ compares downtown's past that of "an empty city ... waiting to be rediscovered and reoccupied."
Part of the subtext here is that DTLA has been rediscovered and reoccupied ... by white people. It was always bustling with Latinos, of course. But America's largest minority clearly doesn't count, especially if you read the bylines of New York - based glossies. Spanish surnames are more rare than a top Buzzfeed article that's not a listicle.
Broadway's immigrant-heavy shopping district was always off-the-chain. But Mexican flavor is often only recognized in the context of haute cuisine, kitsch pop culture or wrestling masks. Even as Latinos represent one of every two people in L.A., we're just background noise for GQ.
The gentrified hipster bars and eateries become our city's new identity for GQ.
Hear this, East Coast media:
Los Angeles is an international city of its own historically evolved form. It will stand alongside London, Tokyo, Mexico City and Beijing as a globally unique community. It will never be New York. It never wanted to be New York.
L.A. is part of a contiguous Southern California megalopolis of nearly 20 million people if you walk a few steps across the border to Tijuana; 18 million if you don't. The New York metropolitan region's estimated 2012 population? 19,831,858. L.A. County's latest population figures? 10,019,365 million. New York City's? 8,336,697 million. (New York City is more like our county; its boroughs, such as Manhattan, are actually also individual counties.)
It's time to stop treating Los Angeles like a little brother. It's unbecoming for a community of sophisticated journalists like New York's.
Stop giving us your condescending stamp of approval - unless you'd appreciate seeing an L.A. Weekly cover story about how cool Williamsburg is. Really. Imagine how utterly lame that would be. Now you have an idea about how we feel about your coverage. Stop trying to put us on the map. Been there. For years.