Sunday, October 19, 2014

I can't tell if I like LA... but I think I don't like it?


Doug Aitken @ Regen Projects

I want to blog about LA, but I don't know if it deserves the hype it gets, positive or otherwise... It's fine I guess...

I don't think I like being here, and perhaps it's because everyone I've met with an art degree is either a little full of themselves or is stuck answering phones... If this is the place where people are following their dreams, I think that they've sufficiently lowered their expectations and no one probably cares what I think because I probably don't know anyone important. And I'm so glad they're right.

LA is not a place where "it is what you bring to it" because a city with this many people with so much more money than you really couldn't give two shits about 'what you bring to it', they're probably too busy finding parking and you're too busy trying to keep yourself from saying something out loud about how awkward everything feels.

Dashiell Manley @ Redling Fine Art

(For a good example of awkwardness, try not to bring up how expensive CalArts is as an 'experience' while at the same time not knowing if the person you're talking to actually teaches there, most likely for not enough money.)

Competition is considered a plus, but then again I've just left a state where Libertarian attitudes have an ever growing stronghold. (See: Ayn Rand) But while on the subject of adult careers and jobs, it seems like there are only 3 modes: 1. Work until you hate yourself 2. Start your own business so that you can abuse others rather than be abused. 3. copy whatever your friend just did, what outlandish outfit are they wearing today? Copy that too, but with a floral pattern.

At its worst, LA is made up of hundreds of bubbles (cliques), jokes and un-fun games, anti-union sentiments, environmental righteousness, personalities that demand respect, dangerous precedents and no easy public transportation.

Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Many conversations I have end abruptly when someone realises that I can't continuously pretend to enjoy talking about sports, celebrities, gadgets, business, tv shows or health trends. Maybe I should wear a Detroit baseball cap and say that I'm doing an impression of Harry Dodge?

Actually I should be ashamed, everything would be going much more smooth if I had actually taken a Spanish class in college, I think it's actually a good thing that people are mildly impatient about my slow attempts to communicate anything after "Quisiera..." and then I stop because I don't even remotely know what is in front of me... is that intestines or skin... uh... I'll just take a small order. Yup, it's all of the above that I'm eating...

I opted for this cheerful image of myself instead of an image of the food that turned out to be layers of tripe.
At its best LA is a place where people have jobs, fruit is affordable and abundant (even in this desert), where Hispanics who don't believe in god and dress well aren't just hipsters, almost everything is reasonable (unless you're driving). I think the weather is nice, but then again we're in Santa Clarita where it hit 110 and humid for a while... not to mention having enough money to have the free time to enjoy such things would probably be even nicer.

This is the only place where the 'trickle down' affect may actually occur between the super rich and Hollywood giving meager wages to people willing to do the work. In a wonderfully stereotypical fashion, I acquired a job because I name dropped someone, showed up with resume/cover letter in person to the right person at the right time, and I was even asked if I could work pretty much that very same day. But do I want to live in a world that functions this way? I feel like it's a fine line from being part of the problem.

I wouldn't say that LA is friendly but at least there really is place for everyone to feel at home (gentrification moves just a bit slower than sprawl), the contemporary art galleries are spacious, gorgeous, they flaunt extravagance with understated grace. Also all the good ethnic restaurants have an A rating for cleanliness and usually some small perk for signing in on Yelp. (But I refuse to believe that $12 average for a meal can still be referred to as 'cheap', I'm looking at you Yelp...)

Christian Rosa at Ibid Projects
I feel like LA is draining me somehow, it has to do with feeling like I need to have the right jokes at the right time, but also I am still looking for 'my people': Those who make artwork based on research that they live, those who don't talk about bullshit mumbojumbo while attempting to get at what-is-most-meaningful in life, those who take total strangers to places where no one can take advantage of one another, but creativity is facilitated, those who can laugh at themselves and make us feel better about ourselves.
Soho House artwork by the pool table and I was immediately told not to take any photos since it was a private club with private art.

LA feels like the fake best friend that tries to get you to make fun of others with him so that both of you can superior, this city doesn't make me feel like I can lift myself and others up, it feels like a break from whatever I didn't like about Detroit, but it offers nothing that I want to put in my backpack of skills, in fact I'm not sure how I can use a range of who I am in this place, it feels like a wave of mediocrity is meant to bring special people to the surface and acidically blend everyone else who have the same taste in movies and aspirations. Those who did rise are bleached from the process and act as if it is more of a burden to continue to be a businessman that has to oil the gears and that it was never a choice. No one seems to imagine that they could start over, but this time, with feeling.

Thank god I don't have some kind of addiction to drugs right now, because this feels like a place where people blend in the more 'out of it' you are, that's a neutral stance, to let you slip into the abyss. Just standing around being self-conscious or being depressed however... this is not a good place to be.

Getting around LA feels like going from meaningless speck of light to another farway meaningless speck of light. To keep from getting confused I take a lot of pictures so that I can process things later.
But I also feel like I'm in a place where I feel like I have to hold my tongue because sometimes someone really has said the dumbest thing I have ever heard, but I don't want to start off on a bad foot. Somehow bitching about things felt like a second nature in Detroit where something was always fucked up, but at least the next day we were working on how to make our own lives a little better and I actually felt like I could see lots of ways that people were creating humble alternatives. I often felt like people could call out bullshit too, but more often than not they were being cheerleaders (Gilda Snowden). I miss being amongst my people, because it was so expansive. Even if someone wasn't some kind of cheerleaders for me, they were cheerleaders for someone I really cared about. I don't just like small towns, I like places where people look out for each other.

Here, the best a good guy can do for you is to help get you a job...

14 dollars an hour, 9 to 5, in an office with a time table so demanding that it's not unusual to take lunch at your desk, and a one hour and fifteen minute commute one way, hopefully before 7 am, and back while the sun is setting, another hour and fifteen minutes back. By the nature of this job I can't stay up later than 11 pm before a weekday.

Thank you?

Perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree bringing up some kind of mythical 'social contract', when I should just appreciate when someone is letting little ol' ME know, some REAL SHIT, like the best place to get ice cream. I might not remember your name, but I'll remember which ice cream shop you referred me to because you described it with such intense beauty, I would have mistaken it for getting head while watching the sunset. I can already feel myself turning into a shallow motherfucker, don't let it take me.

One day, LA will be one large gated community pumping in water from thousands of miles away...

3 comments:

Cedric Tai said...

http://thehebops.bandcamp.com/track/i-luv-ny-but-i-still-hate-la

sean tilson said...

Hey Cedric,
I really liked reading the above. It really seems to capture how I feel about the people in Detroit. I have a friend that is moving there in a year and another who has been there for a while. I think the later you would really like.

Unfortunately, I think your tone of writing is totally like how speak and look when you talk. It doesn't have that smile behind it or that twinkle in your eye.

Miss you,
Sean

Ayres said...

There is a good and complex weave of reflections here. It is good to reflect upon periodically. I am struck with the last image of the "gated community" - but I came here to discuss the bee symbolism in Cremaster 2.