Rodriguez: I remember when
that hillside was green. I remember when this valley was so
empty. I remember when I first came to Los Angeles and the
days in June were clear. I remember when you went to the store,
and people spoke English. I don’t understand what’s
going on here.
Guerra: The story of Los Angeles
is a small town that was multicultural and became literally
the most white city in the history of urban America and now
has become the most multicultural city in the history of mankind.
Waldie: Southern California
is passing through this demographic divide. Its older population,
purely Anglo, mainly from the Midwest and the border South,
is passing away. Their places are being taken by Latinos in
large majority, but also by Filipinos, Cambodians, Vietnamese,
Koreans. brown faces with many, many voices.
Ventura: The Anglo Century
is over. It’s going to be very rare to find a white
Rodriguez: Pity the woman from
Minnesota who thought that she had come to California in 1950
when the streets were clean and everything was pastels. It
would surprise her these many years later to see what Los
Angeles had become.
Coleman: The possibility, the
promise… is so enormous. The excitement, potential,
I love it and I hate it.
Rodriguez: It seems to me that
what we are dealing with in California is an un-writing of
the old narrative. That’s the truth of it. And that
in this time of waiting we look for the signs of the plot
line. And they are everywhere around us, we are not making
the links yet.
Starr: Certainly the story
of the family coming from the Midwest and coming here and
recreating Leave it to Beaver-land, that was true but now
that just seems to be part of a story that’s unfolding
in larger dimensions.
Guerra: Los Angeles is about
creating new stories, creating new narratives; not about sharing
old ones. We may incorporate those into it, we have to understand
them, we have to build upon them, but it’s not about
static. If you want static go to the Midwest. If you want
dynamic, you have to be in Los Angeles.
Rodriguez: There is a sense
of a gift given to the European in coming to America, this
blessed place. And when it is corrupted, as it is corrupted
in New jersey, you leave New Jersey and you go to Ohio. And
when it gets corrupted, the gift gets corrupted, the stream
gets polluted, then you move on, you move on, and you move
on and you move on. And finally to come upon California after
that journey is to be easily tempted to the earliest metaphor
that we have come upon Eden. We have come upon a place that
Iyer: California was the vast
open space waiting to be claimed by whatever dream or destiny
you wanted to throw into it.
McLung: The facts of the founding
of the Pueblo in 1781 are probably very modest indeed. The
pueblo was founded not by romantic Dons and Senõritas
and the panoply of Spanish soldiers and so forth, but actually
by mostly Mexican laborers, something too humble for the uses
of the Anglo establishment around the beginning of the 20th
Klein: The original origin
myth was that the Mexican mission culture was remembered in
the 1920s and now we have Taco Bell, that sort of thing.
Waldie: The Anglo century in
Los Angeles was a period of amazing power and grace. It took
virtually nothing, a fairly empty landscape blessed with wonderful
climate and cursed with too little water and turned it into
this stupendous consumer product.
Kotkin: At the end of the Industrial
Revolution, there was a mass revulsion against the excesses,
the pollution, the congestion, the crime, the dinginess of
the industrial city. And there was growing out of both England
and America was this attempt of creating a garden city, of
bringing the countryside together with the city. Los Angeles
became the great experiment in trying to do that.
Rodriguez: This city is built
on a geographical illusion. The truest geographical factor
about this place is that this is a desert.
Ventura: People come to Los
Angeles and it’s a desert, it’s nothing! How do
you have a city here?
Jackson: We’re sitting
on the rim of extreme mountains. Everything flows from these
mountains down to the ocean. Even the rocks are flowing from
these mountains and tumbling down into the ocean. It gives
you that kind of feeling when you’re in this basin that
we’re sitting on the edge, or the lip, of a continent.
Rodriguez: There is a landscape
that doesn’t look like the golf courses of Palm Springs.
There is a landscape of such brutal strength that you are
forced to other conclusions. One of the conclusions is that
we are related to Mexico. We are geographically related to
Mexico, and Los Angeles has not wanted to face that fact.
Kotkin: Many of the people
who founded Los Angeles, or founded modern Los Angeles, what
they really wanted was a bunch of Midwestern small towns connected
together by a transit system.
McClung: Different parts of
what we now call Los Angeles were springing up simultaneously
with vast areas between them.
Klein: There really was a little
Burbank, there really was a little Glendale, there really
was a little Highland Park. The towns grew into each other
and so you could actually witness enormous climatic and topographical
and cultural difference.
Jackson: I walk down to the
local store and you know, it’s a very manageable place,
to live a small-town type of life. And that’s probably
what I like the most about L.A. is that you can live in a
major city, and you feel like you live in a little small town.
Iyer: Its easy in this amazingly
international multicultural city to wake up in your own little
bubble, get into this moving bubble, go to the office, arrive
in another bubble, and do that for days and weeks on end.
And so I’m not sure how much direct engagement there
is with the other in Los Angeles even though the other is
around us on every side.
Murray: Oh the terrible Los
Angeles sprawl. But within that sprawl, there is space. And
you can either see it as isolation and terrible solitude or
as places where you can create your own space.
Rodriguez: I think
the flat city is always a city that always sees itself as
melted, rather than as petrified. I mean, nothing is more
petrified than the skyscraper. It just stands, It’s
like an erection gone on Viagra forever.
Rodriguez: If I had to bomb
Los Angeles, if I had to attack Los Angeles, the poor old
terrorist has to wonder where to go.
Rodriguez: In this city, the
flat city is precisely the point where every place is Los
Angeles. It’s a very democratic city in that sense,
because every freeway exit in this city is in some sense legitimately
the center of the city.
Iyer: Los Angeles perhaps has
never had a lust for order and is happy to revel in the anarchy
of everyone thrown together, bouncing off one another and
what people always say about Los Angeles not having a center.
And perhaps not even having the need for a center speaks to
a different kind of city.
Coleman: L.A. has never had
a heart. It’s never had a soul. It’s never had
a center. Why worry?
Broad: I think
you can’t find any great city in the world today and
in world history that doesn’t have a vibrant center.
A place where people from all communities could come together
and be in one place. If you don’t do that, you end up
with a divided city. I like seeing lots of people speaking
different languages. It feels good. I mean we could all sit
at home and look at our tubes all day but that doesn’t
think that that’s going to be what Midtown Manhattan
is to New York. The vast majority of business activity in
L.A. is never going to be downtown. The vast majority of Angelenos
are not gonna regard downtown as an important part of their
McClung: Individuals and groups
construct their own Los Angeles out of the zones and areas
and building types that are meaningful to them.
(Music: Busy transitional)
Klein: Los Angeles does have
a logic, but it doesn’t have the concentric logic of
Paris or Vienna or New York. LA will always be much more about
layers, much more about areas in competition with each other,
and much more about what’s new on the road.
Ventura: I like a town where
you can’t find the circumference. You don’t really
know when you’ve entered this town, you don’t
know when you leave it.
Rodriguez: Where is L.A.? Some
orangerie? Somewhere in Bel Air? Zsa Zsa Gabor’s house?
I mean, you know, where is this damn town? You drive along,
and am I still in East L.A., or where am I? Is this Tarzana
yet? I mean, where am I?
(Music: Freeway noises and background
Ventura: The first time I got
on the freeway, I liked it. I really liked it. I liked it
better than driving anywhere else. I had to go down to the
airport to pick up somebody. And I didn’t know my way.
I’d never been on the Hollywood to change to the this
to the that to the other, and I found myself really digging
it. I didn’t expect that.
Hayek: I like driving the freeways
that have the little lines, and that have the little bump.
I like the rhythm of that. Zvboomp, Zvboomp, Zvboomp.
Medusa: Driving is like, uh,
keeping you in motion. It keeps your mind in motion, it keeps
you searching. So yeah, it’s kind of euphoric. It’s
like the high without the drug.
Gamboa: The freeway tends to
promote sort of an anonymous, non-being existence there’s
no real person to person interaction. The feeling you’re
left with is quite empty.
Orellana: I go through different
areas, you know, where there used to be a building, the building
is gone and sometimes there’s just an empty lot, but
then something new comes up. Sometimes it’s better,
or nicer, but then sometimes it’s like this area, you
know, this area used to be so nice before. Well, nice in the
sense that there was nothing here. All there was here was
lots of birds, and I guess some microorganisms, some small
little fish that used to live in the marsh, but now you see
it, they have all of this housing going up, and it’s
not the same. It’s changing.
Mahony: Construction in Southern
California is put it up today, take it down tomorrow. For
example, the Staples Center, which is a big icon here in Southern
California and a beautiful facility. I’ll never forget.
It was dedicated on a Saturday. In the next day’s newspaper,
was this huge story that said, "Staples Center to be
Demolished in Thirty Years." The first day it’s
open! there wasn’t even any concept that this was being
built to last.
Naficy: If you have like a
palm tree in front of this house, you can take them out and
just plant it somewhere else. There is no connection between
growing a palm tree and where you live, so you feel that sort
Waldie: There are millions
of us living here in Los Angeles who’ve lived our whole
lives here. For whom feelings about place are very significant.
Valdes: I would walk up and
down Hawthorne Blvd to go to school, both my Junior high and
my high school. It’s paving, it’s gray, it’s
horizontal. I couldn’t even see the San Gabriel Mountains
most days of the week. On top of that socially it was a hostile
environment. I was desensitized on a lot of levels.
Waldie: You can not strike
the set of Los Angeles. There is a here, here. It is on the
surface and subterranean as well.
Mahony: We built this. We said,
look god’s presence is eternal and we’re building
God’s house and that is not something temporary. The
earthquake isolation system is state of the art. Those isolators
can absorb up to 8 points on the richter scale. It’s
been built to be enduring as gods love and mercy are enduring.
Woman on Street: There used
to be such a lovely village type atmosphere where you knew
everybody and now I think we’ve lost that essence of
Klein: So we want to hold on
to some sense of locality at least. We don’t want to
look at the Vegas fancy stuff anymore; we want to look at
something more on the scale of how we feel. We feel betrayed
on some level and we don’t know where the betrayal comes
from. The middle class is shrinking and this whole emergent
complex ethnography of Los Angeles, it’s complicating
it even further.
Iyer: Most of us, when we’re
sitting in other parts of the world when we dream of LA in
some ways see it in terms of Michelle Phieffer and Brad Pitt.
Blonde hair, blue eyes; all the creatures who stand for California
and its promise on the screen. And we’re not prepared
for the fact that LA’s largely filled, more and more,
by people like us. People from every corner of the world who’ve
been drawn by that dream but in some ways are not the LA projected
around the world.
Ventura: This city made an
iconography that had not happened in the world since the cathedrals.
In the sense of the power of that iconography over its people.
We do the images and the images rule. And it has disoriented
the entire culture.
Gamboa: When we see these stories
and we see these images we know that they’re all a lie.
Klein: The one city in the
world that’s least affected by film glamour is Los Angeles.
In one way because you see a movie star, they’re not
looking great, and you say to yourself, I don’t want
to even bother this person. And everyone has friends (laughs)
who work in the industry and what do they do? They do sound
mixes for films that have no cultural meaning whatsoever.
And sometimes you work on projects, and then you realize ‘oh
my God’ it’s a really bad movie, but I got paid.
Rodriguez: This place where
so much of its energies are in imagining realities that are
not necessarily authentic. And insofar as L.A.becomes the
capitol of America, which I think it is, the inauthentic becomes
more and more permissible.
Iyer: I think we’re much
more prey to the consumption of dreams here. And to giving
dreams great substance. And to that extent, the people I know
in Southern California seem much more hostage to the lure
Man on Street: I’m gonna
be the center of L.A in a minute.
Waldie: So bloated is the notion
of fame in Los Angeles, that no one can live in the center
of it. Fame in Los Angeles is larger than anyone who’s
Hayek: You see the broken dreams
of all these characters that lost their mind. And it makes
you wonder. It makes you wonder how they got here, what were
they hoping for? At what point did they give up on that dream?
At what point did they give up on themselves?
Iyer: In those industries where
Los Angeles is the center, maybe parts of the recording industry
and the film industry, they, of course, have a strong sense
of reality and realpolitik, and there what you see is the
relentless destruction of dreams, because they know that the
bottom-line reality is, they can only make a hundred films,
and they don’t have patience with people who have these
Coleman: This is the cruelest
city on earth. When you see people ready for a photo op even
after tragedy has happened to them a child is killed, someone’s
arrested; we’ve just had a car chase. The reporters
show up and here are people in the throes of crisis and tragedy,
and they’re posing for the camera.
(Music: Police Noises)
Coleman: No respect for human
tragedy. It’s all for sale.
Murray: To live in Los Angeles
is to see its variety. And to see its atrocities and its splendors.
And you can’t live in fiction all the time. At some
point, right? At some point, you wipe off the fake mud that’s
been painted on your face, and you comb your hair out, and
you step out of the spotlights, and you’re at home.
Waldie: I have never felt,
having lived here my entire life, that the sum of Los Angeles
was its glamour. I’ve always thought that the sum of
Los Angeles was the ordinary lives of its everyday people.
Gamboa: Maybe this artificial
history of what the city is could be replaced by a different
story of L.A. Not one that’s cranked out, co-modified,
and then populated by people that don’t represent this
city, have nothing to do with the city and really don’t
look anything like the city.
(Music: Slow transitional)
Guerra: The greatest trend
that has impacted Los Angeles in the last 30 to 40 years has
been the demographic shift and certainly it's the face of
Latinos. They go from being about ten percent of the population
to forty-five percent. At the same time the African-American
population goes from about twelve to fifteen and then it goes
back down to twelve percent. And certainly we've seen the
rise of the Asian population from almost non-existent, two
or three percent, to about twelve percent and all the while
of course the Anglo population declining, a constant decline.
Ventura: In the late '70s and
then the Olympics, you have the greatest wave of immigration
in a hundred years, and -- everybody ignoring it! The media
ignores it, the movies ignore it. These incredibly heroic
acts! When you see on the freeway going to San Diego the sign
with the mother, the shadows of a mother and two children
running across the freeway -- think about that a second! That's
a mother and two children with the clothes on their back.
Running across this freeway. That's the metaphor for the whole
Orellana: Most of the people
have this idea before they come here that somehow they're
gonna get here and they're gonna find all of these white people.
That guy's not white, that guy's Filipino, that guy is, you
know, somebody else who is not white, and they say 'well,
what is this? I'm not in the Philippines, I'm not in India.'
Jackson: Going from the ocean
all the way through Riverside, and just stopping, like, at
a shopping mall, and the shopping is all Oriental. The whole
thing! And I was like, wow, I didn't even know this existed
(Music: Band Music)
Lee: I just recently visited
my old high school, and back then it was about 90 percent
Caucasian. I go back, it's ten percent Caucasian. It's so
shocking to me how the ratio has completely flipped.
Rodriguez: Los Angeles is the
great Brown city of America. That's largely because of it
Mexican-ness, it seems. But I also would insist that's because
of it's Korean-ness, it's also because of the Chinese-ness,
it's also of it's Gringo-ness.
Guerra: The Anglo story of
Los Angeles is so important, and it keeps getting pushed further
and further out from the core, both literally and figuratively.
Kotkin: The idea of Anlgos
like having disappeared, certainly the establishment, the
families themselves, they've dissipated pretty radically.
Gamboa: I'm not exactly nostalgic
for visible signs of white power because where I come from
those visible signs were police batons and the muzzles of
Bradford: Stop talkin' to the
white boy! You don't always have to make the white boy feel
bad for something -took your land, butchered up your--okay!
Well that's history!
Kotkin: It's fashionable
today to look down on the Anglo-Saxons for all sorts of things
and certainly, you know, having their cuisine replaced is
a major step in the right direction. But, in terms of the
idea of the rule of law, a certain kind of order, the idea
that process was important, that fairness is important, that
the world is something other than simply a matter of force,
is an idea that is very embedded in the Anglo-American tradition
that is here in Los Angeles.
Ventura: It's gonna be the
best thing that ever happened to white people because people're
gonna get nostalgic about 'em. Been bitching about 'em for
five hundred years and now they're gonna get nostalgic about
McClung: Although I think the
nostalgia for Anglo LA will not be specifically a nostalgia
for Anglos, but it will be maybe a nostalgia for a period
-- and inevitably, the word "innocent" will be used,
one of the most abused words in English.
Rodriguez: Someday, when there
are so few blondes left in California, we're gonna put them
in a preserve and we're all gonna go look at them just remembering
what it was like.
Guerra: What Anglo-Los Angeles
gave us was an incredible, incredible physical infrastructure,
and it’s up to the new immigrants to then sustain that
Waldie: Will there be something
lost? Will the lessons learned by Okies and Arkies in the
1950s, how to live together, how to assemble a community,
will those lessons be lost? I don't know.
Avila: The new immigrants,
sometimes they're noisy. And I don't want to be derogatory
toward them, but sometimes I miss the quiet.
Broad: The city's population
has changed, our industry has changed, ethnicity has changed,
so it's a very different place today, from the point of view
of civic power.
Rodriguez: Clearly there are
parts of this population that feel threatened by this change,
by the browning of the city.
Medusa: Korea town, it's almost
taking over Crenshaw. And I'm like wait a minute, where did
all of these - you know, I'm reading buildings where I can't
even understand the language! And I'm like, where did this
Orellana: For some of the black
people, they say the Mexicans are taking over, they're coming,
they're taking over the neighborhood. But they don't realize
that they did exactly the same to the white people who used
to live. Before. there was white people in South Central,
there was white people in all those teeny little cities that
run along the Long Beach Freeway: Maywood, Bell, Bell Gardens,
you know, Huntington Park, all of those. South Gate. All of
those little cities that used to be white people there.
Coleman: I see Latins being
used as leverage against blacks. This is what I see. And when
the smoke clears, it'll be more of the same old, same old.
Rodriguez: If I were African
American in Los Angeles, I would be very troubled by the Hispanic
spin on numbers. The great black neighborhoods of the city
are becoming Spanish-speaking. There are not a lot of Hispanic
politicians who say, "We are not edging you out, we are
not replacing you. We are coming to live with you, we are
coming to share your culture, we want to be African American."
Lft: We went to Atlanta, Georgia
months ago, back before, and that's
where we felt the segregation.
Rt: It's like whoa!
Lft: You know what I mean? It's
either black or white, you know what
I mean over there.
Rt: Are you with them, or you
I'd rather be in the middle.
Lft: You know. But that made us
Lft: That made us see stuff that
never seeing before because livin' in
L.A., come on, you know how it is
Rt: You have Korean friends, Mexican
friends, white friends, Arabian
friends, you know?
Lft: Sometimes it's cool to be
know what I mean? It's cool to be
Mexican, it's cool to be black, it's
cool to be white.
(music: Uptown 3000)
Waldie: There are many divides
in Los Angeles. Some of those divides are crueler than others.
The divide between the Jewish community in Los Angeles and
the Latino community is one of the crueler divides.
Rotem: Many Jews in the West
Side don’t necessarily have any serious understanding
about the Latinos in the East Side, because most of them,
their encounter with Latinos, is either with their maid, or
Kotkin: Most West Side Jews
could give a damn about L.A., but they’re not really
of Los Angeles in the way the rest of us are. And in that
I include the Anglos and Jews and Middle Easterners and Ethiopians
who live in my neighborhood.
Broad: Los Angeles
is a fairly young city as cities go and it does not have the
tradition of civic engagement, it doesn’t have the tradition
of philanthropy that the older American cities have and I
am hopeful that the entertainment industry will get more engaged
in our community than they have been in the past because they’re
a vital part of our economy and they’ve got a lot to
Klein: I could easily see Los
Angeles splitting in half, in fact. The West Side culture
becoming more effete and more like, uh, Florence-and-Milan-slash-Los
Angeles, and the East Side becoming almost an alternative
culture to the West Side.
Guerra: We used to have the
railroad tracks. Now we have the 405, the freeway, that's
the great divide.
(Music: Bouncy Transitional)
Woman on street: There’s
a really clear delineation between the west side and east
side, definitely, but I don’t know where you draw the
line. It just seems as though if you live on the west side
you look a little different.
Woman on beach: Westwood’s
kind of east. As east as I’d go.
Man on beach (the mamila guy):
If I’m on the other side of Aviation, you know, I go
I’m a fish out of water. I’m flippin’ around.
No, I’m over here.
Ventura: In Los Angeles, you
buy the air quality. If you can afford it, your air quality
is ten times what it is ten miles out. You’re by the
sea. You buy a cooler climate. You have a summer that gets
up into the mid-80s, and goes into the high 60s at night.
Fifteen miles east, they have a summer that’s in the
100s, and never gets below 85, and the air is foul.
Mahony: People are moving everywhere.
You have people living everywhere. But you have very well-to-do
Hispanics and Asian-Pacific people living everywhere, you
have everybody every place.
Kotkin: Latinos have bought
homes in every single zip code in Southern California. So
we obviously don’t have apartheid. Latinos can live
anywhere they want to live. If they have enough money. Now,
if we want to deal with the issue of class, then that’s
another important issue.
(Music: Slow transitional)
Botey: In this country everybody
assumes that they are middle class. Even the poorest of the
poor are middle class.
Charney: I started going through
the factory saying, "Is everything okay?" and the
people say, "Mucho happy." Mucho happy! What could
be better than mucho happy? That’s what L.A. is.
Davis: The immigrants who came
to America at the right timing or at the turn of the century
, came to the country with the most productive economy in
the world with millions of jobs which could be transformed
into high paying middle class jobs. The big problem with Los
Angeles is that so much of it’s economy has capitalized
from poverty. In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the top
five percent of wage earners earn 25 times more than the bottom
Coleman: L.A.’s been
very cruel and inhumane in how it treats those of us who aren’t
able to make a certain level of income.
Orellana: If I go through the
poor neighborhoods, you can see the despair on people’s
faces, like they’re trying so hard and it’s not
Orellana: WHEn you’re
on the street you develop these feelings, you know, you have
another sense you are developing, you can feel the vibrations
coming. The energy’s there.
Ventura: In L.A., the storm
is over your head, it’s under your feet. You don’t
have to read the newspapers. Just get on the freeway and you
know what’s going on in the world that day.
Matchin: Our hospital is in
a tough community. There’s a lot of violence in the
central city. There’ve been a few occasions where there’s
been gang activity in the community, where there’s been
shootings, and some of those individuals have been brought
here, and um, the rival gang actually has tried to come to
the emergency room with the intent, we believe, of trying
to finish that person off – to kill them.
Orellana: Whenever a crisis
like the riots happen usually the government will come in,
the banks will come in, and basically they throw money at
you. Here, here, you want money? Do this, do that. But I think
that this time around they have been able to keep most of
their promises. They promise, people complain, well we don’t
even have supermarkets here, they do now.
Gamboa: I’m really not
in favor of these kind of violent confrontations because usually
it’s the people who don’t deserve to get hurt
are the ones that are hurt, and those that deserved to be
punished are usually awarded the contracts for rebuilding.
Waldie: Why is Los Angeles
the one big city in America that periodically sets fire to
itself? Why do Angelenos seek to wreck this town every generation?
Rodriguez: I think it’s
very convenient to ignore the energies of this place that
are redemptive and that are truly joyous.
Guerra: The greatest resource
that any community has are its people, and an even greater
resource are optimistic people. I’m optimistic about
Los Angeles because of the optimism of the Latino community.
(Music: church singing)
Orellana: The first generation
of people that gets here will have to struggle. I mean, that’s
how it is, you know, you have to struggle, the first generation.
By the second generation gets better, by the third it’s
Guerra: The typical immigrant
expects to be much better off themselves, their families,
and more importantly, their children. And statistically, we
say, well, that might not be so, or, not all of you are going
to be make it. But everyone defines themselves as saying,
Well, we’re going to be the ones that make it.
(Music: Church music ends)
Hayek: It was my dream to be
an actress. It was also my dream to prove it, not just to
the Americans, but to prove it to my own kind. That within
us, it is the power to do anything, absolutely anything that
Gamboa: I think the immigrant
optimism exists because they’re not aware of the full
(Music: latin Girls)
Bradford: Collectively, maybe
the communities don’t like each other, and maybe there’s
racism on both sides. But then if you notice the little individuals,
you see the little Latin girl and the little black girl walking
to school together and the little Latin girl’s going
(IMITATES MANNERISM) and the little black girl will say a
little word that she understands in Spanish.
Rodriguez: Somebody begins
to look at somebody else with something like animal lust.
And the heart begins to beat.
Guerra: You’re going
to have many Anglos with Latino grandchildren, increasingly.
And so that they’re brought into this mix as family
members, whether they want to or not.
Rodriguez: And the results
of all of this, are children of such complexity that they
will tell you that they don’t have a culture. They don’t
have a race. They don’t have a nationality. They belong
to some notion of pluralism.
Woman on street: I’ve
gotten tickets before and they write down white and, you know,
I don’t. It’s not a big deal to me. I’m
not going to be like, "No, I’m Asian," you
know. It’s just whatever people want to call me. It’s
there deal, not mine.
Starr: Once you’ve met
your first Asian American surfer dude, you’re in the
presence of a new paradigm.
Rodriguez: You have kids now
in Los Angeles. The surfer who knows how to use chopsticks,
the Jewish kid who knows Mexican songs. He may be the next
Lft: Grow up in a black neighborhood you’re gonna
act black, you grow up in a white neighborhood you’re
gonna act white. You grow up in an asian neighborhood…
Rt: You’re gonna learn speakin’
Korean and eatin’ Korean food.
Lft: You know how it is though.
Rt: I mean, you blend into everything.
Medusa: Ten years ago, I’m
getting out of my car, and I had a Afro. And this kid said,
"Hey, Lady! This ain’t Black History Month! Little
black kid. I’m like, Wait a minute! You know what I
mean? I was almost offended. But three years later, everybody
had a Afro. Mexican Americans had ‘fros. They was forkin’
they shit out.
Rodriguez: When I talk about
the way cultures are going to collide and meet in Los Angeles,
I don’t mean that I’m going to come out intact.
I think I’m going to be changed by that process. I think
I might become you, and God help you, but you may become me.
And then you will be confused AND THEN you will say things
aren’t easy out here anymore. They’ve never been
easy on the global trails where cultures meet.
Davis: We may officially endorse
diversity, but the basic ethos remains one of homogeneity
Guerra: But assimilate into
what? Now, assimilate into exactly what exists today, or existed
in 1990? No, that’s impossible. That isn’t gonna
happen. But they’re going to assimilate into a new reality.
Kotkin: This will never be
a Mexico City. This will never be a Buenos Aires. This will
never be a Madrid, and it will never be a Hong Kong. It will
be in many ways still fundamentally an Anglo city built on
the imprint that the Anglos brought here.
Starr: It doesn’t matter
what the majority of Los Angeles people are, or what their
ethnic descent is, Mexican-American civilization is a departure
from Mexican civilization. So this great Mexican-American
city is going to be exactly that, very American. But it will
be speaking increasingly in an Mexican-American accent.
Rodriguez: There may come from
some Mexican mouth in LA, or Korean mouth, or Vietnamese mouth,
some reformed language. It’s gonna be impossible for
Iowa to declare itself an English speaking state, as Iowa
recently has done. That won’t make any sense to say
Klein: The next generation
are going to be given a gift, the gift is that they’re
going to have to restructure, invent new languages to deal
with what the global economy has finally done. I think in
L.A. this work can be done probably more easily than any other
place on Earth that I know of.
Orellana: My child that I have,
he is not going to be a cab driver like me. Because he knows
how hard it is, he knows that there is a better way and He
sees the light, he already knows what he wants to do, he wants
to be a movie director.
Valdes: I think there is one
group of people that still come to L.A. that still believe
in that sort of Hollywood fantasy of L.A. that is constantly
about remaking itself and about being something other than
what it is. And I think there are other people who are in
L.A. who are constantly battling with nostalgia.
Waldie: We don't have all the
materials at hand yet to even begin assembling a shared narrative
of Los Angeles, but we probably need to begin to listen to
more stories and listen hard for them.
Rodriguez: There is this adolescent
city all around us. We're sitting, and we see, and we hear,
and we smell and we put up with and hear we are waiting for
the city to speak.
Gamboa: You yourself will be
a new creature of the 21st century. An amalgam of everything,
of all the influences, whether its pretty or maybe something
not too good to look at, you none the less represent what
this city is all about, and that is something new.
Klein: We are ready to face
a city again, but what is the city we are ready to face? Its
very very plainly the job of culture right now, people who
humanize experience, to humanize these cities before we accidentally
build a movie set that’s so suicidally unpleasant that
we’ll all be going on medication together.
Valdes: I don’t know
if it’s a generation that has come into being here that
has awakened and realized that there are things that we grew
up with that we just have been deprived of? Or that there
are people that have come here from other places that recognize
that something is missing. And I think we’re all searching
for ways to bring those things out.
Waldie: We cannot scrape the
land clean any longer, and invent on it the perfect place
that we wish for. That Los Angeles is no longer possible.
There is no more place to go to build a new Jerusalem.
Kotkin: The first cities in
the world were built around artificial gardens. What do they
think Ur and Sumer were? What was Tenochtitlan? They were
all artificial gardens. Cities are by definition artificial.
And they are places that human beings will into existence.
Waldie: Los Angeles may be
a diagnostic of what a different America will look like and
feel like in the next fifty years.
Klein: The future of this city
is compelling, so strange, so worth joining. This is a city
that only has to talk about itself and it speaks about the
Coleman: The world is becoming
Los Angeles. I don’t have to leave it anymore because
everywhere I go its there ahead of me.
Waldie: The future story of
Los Angeles probably has its beginnings not in some Eastern
elite school, but maybe around a campfire in Cineloa, maybe
around a hearth outside of Bombay. Maybe around a table in
a working class bar in Peru.
Ventura: We just don’t
know. The unexpected always happens, it’s the all you
can count on and it’s a very fluid moment in history.
Rodriguez: Pity the woman from
Minnesota who suddenly realizes that her myth no longer prevails.
That there are competing myths now. That the end of the line
is the beginning of the line. What are we to do except to
say that they are all true? This is the west. This is El Norte,
this is the beginning and the ending.
Rodriguez: This is a time of
change. And there’s nothing to be done about that.