Our relationship to a city is always determined by the people we meet. Not just the friends we make, but the woman who bakes our morning croissant and the nightclub doorkeepers who sneer at our shoes. We count on spotting the man who walks the paths of Griffith Park every day, no matter the weather, or the guy on Sunset standing vigil against the war. We depend on the waitresses who tell us stories of Los Angeles the way it used to be, the radio voices who root for our teams and the newspaper bylines we love to hate. We admire our fellow citizens who fight for a better world, and those creative souls who give us movies and music and laughter that make the days go faster. Ours is a city where a high-school dropout can become mayor, where the richer you are the more decrepit your jeans, and where you will always find a story worth listening to if you simply bother to ask the elevator man, the bookseller or even the chief of police. There are many ways to define our city, but none may be more telling than this collection of wildly diverse personalities who somehow find a ?way to get along.

This is our first issue devoted to the people who give Los Angeles its character. It won’t be our last. There are too many more people we’ve yet to meet.