This yearsBest of L.A.
began with weekly e-mails from my colleague Hazel-Dawn Dumpert, whod recently moved to New England with her husband. Every Friday Dawn sent a message recalling some small but indispensable part of life in L.A. that she dearly missed; I soon found myself trading notes with friends about the things we would probably long for if we left town. In our imaginary exiles, this or that store or restaurant would get mentioned, but more and more it got down to the citys less tangible qualities, the quirks and surprises not listed in the Yellow Pages. By themselves, these things may not be enough to inspire a novel or make anyone move to L.A., but together they create a kind of gravity that keeps us here.
For me it is the Los Angeles morning, an almost imperceptible evolution of light and noise that seems to last forever and gives back to everyone the hope theyd lost the night before. Its that stretch along Beverly Boulevard near the golf course where the temperature abruptly drops, or how the freeway above Eagle Rock suddenly smells of sage. But its also the people the petitely costumed Lawrys waitresses spinning their steel salad bowls, the Musicians Institute drummer kids applauding singers by tapping their sticks, or the garrulous old men who repair our shoes, fix our watches or pour our drinks. L.A. is a city that can be enjoyed with lots of money or none, because no matter who you are, you quickly learn what its essentials are and how to navigate and negotiate through the unnecessary. The early survival lessons of native and newcomer alike allow us to appreciate this confusing place long after the morning has faded. The following stories may remind you of what, exactly, it is about Los Angeles that makes it a place to inhabit and, however improbably, a place to call home.
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I love palm trees. Always have. The way they look and their sound in the wind have always made me feel like Im home. Now that Ive decided to leave Los Angeles and move to Montana, I realize Ill miss them most of all.
- Best of L.A. 2005: Terrain
- Best of L.A. 2005: Murals When I arrived here in 1991, I was immediately struck by L.A.'s Latino culture especially its murals. I had seen nothing quite like them
- Best of L.A. 2005: Mirrors Car Show Girls Growing up in L.A., I have seen many shifts in car culture, from lowriders and hot rods, which have survived for decades, to fads like
- Best of L.A. 2005: Encounters My images of the L.A./L.B. harbors show what I treasure most about my neighborhood. I live five minutes from both harbors, and the drive to
- Best of L.A. 2005: Memory
- Best of L.A. 2005: Mirrors Somethings Happening is unique in L.A. radio. Where else can one find five and a half hours of programming dealing with consciousness issues? Such mind-expanding
- Plantation Hollywood Life among the Wannabes
- Starry Night Whats not to love about the Greek Theater
- Bay Watchers Mouse-surfing swells, breaks and Sheilas
- Porn Yesterday
- What Would Jesus Paint? We appreciate art as much as the next guy, but
- Big Bang Theory L.A.s loud lullabies
- Native in a Strangers Land Giant doughnuts, drive-thrus and apocalypse
- On Native Ground Gardening in the asphalt jungle
- Canards and Clichés L.A. through the N.Y. Times looking glass
- The Big Red One Whats the matter with Oklahoma?
- We Rule, You Dont! Lovin L.A., angrily
- The Immigrant An untranslatable encounter with myself
- Ready for Her Close-Up Searching for fame in all the wrong places
- Life Cycle There are two kinds of bicycle riders in L.A.: those who ride on
- The Children's Hour On KXLUs The Kids Are Alright Show, Mitchell Professor Cantaloupe Brown and Don
- Big Fun in Little Bavaria Alpine Village without tears
- Darker Than Night L.A.s big blue mirror
- Lung Gone Santa Monica Boulevard is a traffic nightmare at the best of times
- Why I Miss Frank Gehrys Balls Id always been fond of Frank Gehrys balls. Even before I knew they
- 10 Things John Fleck Misses About L.A. When Hes Away By our favorite actor
- Missing the Unthinkable Drive, I said
- Lover Come Back I was 11 when I bought my first CD, Aquas Aquarium,
- Should I Stay or Should I Go? Riding the whirlwind in the bike lane
- Goth Karaoke Where to go when one gets the urge to croak out Marian by
- A Native's Notebook
- Another L.A. Story
- Lay of the Land Mapping the horizon
- Fleas in Heaven Scratching the urge to bargain
- Alley Girl Cruising our streets with no names
- Around the Horn of Fairfax Little Ethiopia seems the littlest of all L.A.s littles:
- Lets Go for a Ride! Car culture on Pacific rims
- Blue Sky, White Heron Biking the river
- Sunday Night Fever Steak and salsa in City of Commerce
- The Distant Present Norman Klein spanks and hugs L.A.
- The Bridges of L.A. County Let us now praise famous spans
- The Lurking Along the 110 freeway near the Golden State, there is a series of
- Allegories of the Caves ARGGHHH! I AM A SPACE MONSTER! I LIVE IN THE BOTTOMLESS PIT!
- Happy Trails Saddling up in the big town
- Revels Without a Pause The backyard party life of teens
- Selling Day for Night Its only time on the boulevard
- Alligator Tales A battered marshs unlikely hero
- My Urban Paradise It takes a village to raise a city
- The Loneliness of the Non-Distance Runner The former Desmonds Mens Clothing building
- Shelf Life Eli Goodmans secondhand knowledge
- Special Ed The catman of Atwater
- The Tastemaker Trader Joes days of wine and cheeses
- The Mayor of Metropolis If youve ever been fishing for radio stations on the return end of
- Cult Fiction, Pulp Nonfiction Collage artist and proprietor of the den of literary iniquity that is Koma
- The Producer: A.C. Lyles
- Fangs for the Memory Forrest J. Ackerman, sage of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, ur-movie
- Where the Sidewalk Ends Faith, hope and clarity on Skid Row
- Natural Air Conditioning
- After Sunset Life is a carousel, old chum
- Eastside Story The day we caught the night stalker
- Almost Green Nature talks, an exile listens
- Ghost Time Los Angeles with a hard g
- Dear Colleen Letters from a sucker new in Hollywood, 19741976
- The Sun, the Sun . . . A Venice album
- God's Little Acre of Books Où est la bibliothèque?
- The Vanishing My Ronald Reagan encounter
- Canal Kings
- Pregnant Pauses, Toys in the Crawlspace A writers encounters with L.A.
- Bridge Over Troubled Human Plunging into the Pasadena night
- When Night Was Falling My evening with Johnny Mercer
- The Great Water Heater Launch of 1966 Hawthorne, we have a problem