Friday, September 4, 2020

To Los Angeles On Her 239th Birthday

Dear Los Angeles:

Whether September 4, 1781 was your exact founding date has been the subject of some debate, but no one alive today was there to see it, so like most Angelenos I'm content to consider today your birthday.

I know. It's a weird birthday and you can't celebrate like usual. Hopefully next year will be better. And ten years after that, your 250th should really be a big deal.

I think of you often, Los Angeles. I may live in a suburb (for reasons beyond the scope of this entry), but you've certainly been on my mind today. And it's because you're not okay.

I care about you, Los Angeles. I am bothered by the fact that you're not being looked after as well as you should be (with the exception of your wealthiest areas, you've been dirty and suffering from some degree of deferred maintenance for my entire life) and I am bothered that we keep losing so much of what makes you great to apathy, corruption, and greed. I am especially not happy with the poor stewardship you've been subjected to for all of this century and too much of the last one. It's not right and you deserve better.

I worry about you, Los Angeles. I worry about Angelenos who are struggling to survive on the street, or who are facing that prospect. I worry about you when a fire breaks out, and if a big enough earthquake hits (I haven't forgotten the 1994 Northridge quake), I'll worry then too. I worry about you when civilians clash with law enforcement. I worry that a certain subsection of the population - the people who just want to watch the world burn - hasn't learned anything from the 1871 Chinese Massacre, the 1965 Watts Riots, or the 1992 riots, and won't learn anything from 2020.

I weep for you, Los Angeles. I weep for the shameful and cruel way homeless Angelenos are treated. I weep for your public schools that are mediocre at best and shouldn't be. I weep for our losses - LACMA, Bunker Hill, pre-concrete Pershing Square. I weep for every exhausted commuter who can't live close to work due to finances or safety issues and rarely sees their loved ones. I weep for every Angeleno who doesn't have the right look or the right brand and thinks they're not enough (and I know a thing or two about this - I'm a pale, dark-haired, curvy Valley Girl who plays with scale models).

I pray for you, Los Angeles. I pray for civility, understanding, and peace between Angelenos. I pray that we'll stop losing the best of you to corruption, bribery, massive egos, and political favors. I pray for developers to think more like Prudent Beaudry (who developed for the wealthy, the working class, and everyone in between) and less like the people who plan to replace the Viper Room with a 15-story tower. I pray that we can save more of what makes you unique and special. I pray that the neglected Pico House doesn't rot from the inside out. I pray you'll have good, honest, and competent leadership in the near future, since in your 239 years of history you've had a lot of bad mayors and a lot of bad council members, and the people currently in charge are grossly unfit to care for you.

I love you, Los Angeles. Which is why I'm scared for you.

On this day I'm reminded of a scene from "Penny Dreadful: City of Angels". Tiago asks Lewis how they're going to save Los Angeles. Lewis responds that they're just trying to survive her. But how will you survive, Los Angeles?

My grandparents loved you so much. My parents say you used to be a great place to live. No one wants to see you turn into New York (both in terms of ugly skyscrapers and in terms of crime rate and livability).

Happy birthday, Los Angeles. May you rise from the ashes of 2020, no matter how impossible it seems (even Hurricane Katrina couldn't kill New Orleans).

With love from one of your millions of kids,



  1. Brava, I share those birthday sentiments. And pale, dark-haired, curvy Valley Girls who play with scale models are the unsung cool.