2 May 2012

What were we thinking?


Heavy Theory ∕ Personal History

We were in California. We had no car, so we took a train from Oakland to Bakersfield. From Bakersfield we took a bus. Everything between Bakersfield and Los Angeles looked like this.

We arrived at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, an architectural gem of which I took no pictures. We had 24 hours in the city, with no car, so we stayed downtown for the whole time. It was a Saturday/Sunday. It is a business district, so it was almost totally empty.

Downtown is the only high-rise part of the city. This kind of skyline was not what we had expected from Los Angeles.

Admittedly, the style of some of the mid-sized, early 20th-century buildings was familiar from watching noir movies. But still, there was a lot here that I had not expected.

It was only on the taxi trip to the airport that we glimpsed the low-rise sprawl, the tall palms, the freeway ramps, the city-to-the-horizon that we had come to see.

A lot has been written about the strangeness, the shouldn’t-even-be-there-ness of Los Angeles, its mix of utopia and dystopia, of poverty and wealth, and its mind-blowing scale. Our brief visit confirmed all of this, but not in the way that we had expected.