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Los Angeles Now Transcript

(Music: opening)

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 person.

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.

(Music: Transitional)

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 is perfect.

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 century.

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.

(Music: Industrial)

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.

(Music: transitional)

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 do it.

Kotkin: Don’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 lives.

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.

(Music: Continued)

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 music)

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 of unrootedness.

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 community.

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 of fame.

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 even famous.

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 wistful thoughts.

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 thing.

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.'

Cucuy: Spanish

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 out here.

(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 twelve-gauge shotguns.

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 'em.

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.

(Music: Transitional)

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 old infrastructure.

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.

(Music: transitional)

Cucuy: Spanish

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 come from?

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."

Uptown 3000

Lft: We went to Atlanta, Georgia a couple
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 like
either black or white, you know what
I mean over there.

Rt: Are you with them, or you with us?
I'd rather be in the middle.

Lft: You know. But that made us like,
wake up.

Rt: Yeah.

Lft: That made us see stuff that we were
never seeing before because livin' in
L.A., come on, you know how it is
over here!

Rt: You have Korean friends, Mexican
friends, white friends, Arabian
friends, you know?

Lft: Sometimes it's cool to be Asian. You
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 their gardeners.

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 contribute.

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)

Cucuy: Spanish

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 twenty percent.

(Music: continues)

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.

(Music: Continues)

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 happening.

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 even better.

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 we want.

Gamboa: I think the immigrant optimism exists because they’re not aware of the full story.

(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 Hispanic.


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.
We adapted.

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.

(Music: Transitional)

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 and assimilation.

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.

Cucuy: Spanish

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 that.

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 world.

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.


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