Last night we went to Dodgers stadium to watch the Dodgers, who lost to Atlanta. Now my friend Casey is a fan of the Braves, having grown up in Atlanta and all, and he is by far one of the most genial, gracious, and decent men I have ever met. However, this woman behind us was a Braves fan, and she was obnoxious. Fine, cheer on your team, but not if God gave you a voice that sounds like a constipated muppet. She was entertaining visitors from out of town, so she was explaining her views on living in Los Angeles. At one point, she said in a loud voice, “LA is ****hole. I can’t imagine staying here because it’s just so…Mexican.”
Now there are million things that I would change about Los Angeles. The rats. The air. The hockey team. We need Trader Joe’s south of the 10 and east of the Harbor. But I wouldn’t change a thing about the people who live here. Not a thing. If I could move wealth around, I would, because I have always been a pinko, but Los Angeles is real cosmopolitanism. We fail at it again and again, but it’s not like we’re a metro area with a few little safe ethnic enclaves mixed in a reassuring way so we can give lip service to cosmopolitanism. It’s a place where people of color outnumber white people but where power is still inverted. LA burns, regularly, both physically and ideologically, and because it burns it requires us to take a hard look at ourselves and how we treat each other. It is a significant place because of these realities.
I, for one, like having my dogs blessed by priests with all my Mexican, south, and central American neighbors and their dogs, some dressed in little sombreros. I like the beautiful girls clacking up Broadway in their heels, all of whom look like they just got done filming something for Univision. I like the handsome old gentlemen in cowboy hats and ostrich-skin cowboy boots who try, with courtly grace, to give me their seat on the subway. I like the little old ladies that sell coconuts and tamales on the street corners.
I can only hope that she will, in fact, go away and grace somewhere else with her retch-inspiring presence. I generally don’t tell people how wonderful Los Angeles/North Mexico City is because I’d rather that people just stay away and indulge whatever biases they have based on whatever Mike Davis book they’ve skimmed or tv show they watch. There are enough people here already; I’m never going to be able to afford a house as it is, and the water situation–egads. But you shouldn’t stay away because it is “too Mexican.” That’s one of the best things about this place, along with it being “too Black” and “too Thai” and “too Korean” and “too Ethiopian” and “too Indian” and “too gay.” Suckitup if you don’t like the Other because the Other is in your face here–and should be.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Lisa Schweitzer explains (one reason) why I love LA