Personal experience: 5 things that startled me in Los Angeles
Several years ago, in May, after a sleepless night, after saying good-bye to rainy Moscow, I flew to another life. Los Angeles is a city of clear azure sky, where 329 days the year the sun shines! Oh, miracle! Of course, the weather factor strongly influenced my decision to move here. Fortunately, here is the best in the world school of journalism, in which I am preparing to enroll. But it's not about that. Speaking as a city observer, I want to tell you about how Los Angeles met me: my amazing discoveries and unjustified expectations.
1. City of earthquake resistant houses
The peculiarity of Los Angeles is its instant recognition. This city has been filming so many times in movies and TV shows that it no longer seems completely new or alien. It’s as if I’ve already been here and I’m familiar with these wide highways, shaded by rows of slender palm trees, these tasteless lurid banners, billboards and banners that the whole city, this low-rise building is full of: toys, cheap buildings made as if made of clay .
When I was looking for housing, one of the managers told me that their four-story house was built in just a month. Instead of reinforced concrete supporting structures, wood (!) Is used here, mainly spruce, as in a real Russian hut. Who would have guessed ?! But this, as they explained to me, is not at all the eccentricities of architects and not the desire to save, but a vital necessity. Los Angeles is located in a earthquake-prone area (in all of California, weak earth tremors are almost fixed every day), and wood is a flexible material and, in the event of an earthquake, will prevent buildings from completely collapsing. For two months now I have been living in the West Hollywood area in such a wooden-plasterboard house, and I know in detail the life of my neighbor from the apartment opposite. I know that now he is experiencing a mid-life crisis, he has problems with a girl, with her parents, and even with a dog, a German shepherd, who has been crying from loneliness all day. Yes, the walls here are really very thin.
2. City of aesthetic chaos
In Los Angeles there is no architectural aesthetics, which is customarily admired in the cities of Europe. There is no clear architectural logic. This is the perfect city of contrasts, where next to a well-kept quiet residential street, overgrown with mimosa and spruces - like Leinwood Avenue - the brilliance and misery of noisy boulevards with glass business centers, restaurants, schools, churches and, of course, homeless.
Homeless Los Angeles - an integral flavor of the cityscape. They are here as familiar as trees or urns.
Dirty, ragged, with suitcases or carts stolen from supermarkets, they wander from the street into the street, asking passers-by for food trifles. They live on benches, steps of public institutions, bus stops, where they leave behind an unbearable stench. Many vagrants love to flatten themselves right in the middle of the sidewalks, plunging into a drunken sleep. Passers-by may offer help, but more often they simply bypass. Americans got used to this neighborhood long ago. I - not yet, but it does not matter. More importantly, the homeless are completely harmless, even friendly, do not stint on compliments and smiles when you pass by.
3. City for cars, not for pedestrians
Most of the residents of Los Angeles, in contrast to, say, the “measured” Parisians, do not know at all how it is to sit at a cafe table, set up directly on the sidewalk, and sip a cup of coffee for hours in pleasant company. Recreation culture in public places is not developed in principle here. No infrastructure. The same sidewalks, which in European cities serve as a place for walks and rest, are generally deprived of any attractiveness: narrow, paved with coarse concrete slabs, in crevices and hollows, and often in shameless excrements of homeless people.
Of course, in the city there are parks, squares, squares where people walk, but there are very few people who want to. Even on Independence Day in the Grandpark (this is one of the most central and most famous parks) in the downtown area, where I went in search of unbridled fun, I managed to count only a couple of dozen people who arranged boring picnics on the lawn at the fountain.
In general, it is customary to leave the house here except for walking the dogs, shopping and entertainment (in strictly local, closed places), where they usually get by car.
And it's true when they say that in Los Angeles it's hard to do without a car, which is truly amazingly. How does such a giant agglomeration, which is an order of magnitude larger than Moscow, operates without a developed public transport system?
4. City of rare buses and unpopular metro
To wait for the bus in Los Angeles means to stand at a stop at best 10-15 minutes, and at worst - an hour and a half (especially in the main tourist areas like Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Santa Monica and Venice). Only buses go along the main streets, and in order to get to the nearest bus stop, you need to walk 15 minutes. The city authorities, apparently, are satisfied with this, because only tourists, newly arrived immigrants and the poor, as a rule, Mexicans and African Americans, use buses here.
In the subway the same picture as in buses: tourists and marginal. But those quite a bit. The Los Angeles subway is always almost empty; about 300 serves thousands of people a day (by comparison, the daily passenger traffic of the Moscow metro reaches 8 a million people). However, in the local subway much has been done for convenience: electronic ticket sales, quiet, comfortable cars, creatively decorated stations. Here it just smells like some kind of staleness and rot, although the subway is new, it’s only 27 years old. But the main problem is still different: you cannot go far on this type of public transport. Metro includes all 5 main lines, which cover only half of the city.
5. City of moral enlightenment
Even before coming here, while watching a video about Los Angeles, doubts still creep in that in this urban environment that is devoid of aesthetics and meaning, I will not feel completely uncomfortable. But now I understand, the experiences were in vain. In Los Angeles, despite the fact that the city is not a resort, you still have a feeling of lightness, friendliness and calm. There is no anxiety, aggression and tension dissolved in the air, as in Moscow. There is no oppressive gray weather, gray people and gray streets with bulky buildings hanging over the body and soul. Stunning weather and nature, of course, do their job: what is one ocean, and what mountains!
Los Angeles is a city of simplicity and practicality, which is reflected in the people themselves (and, maybe, and vice versa). They have enough of what is. The attractiveness of the artificially created environment is a matter over which the locals do not even seem to think. They live in a creative freedom that is inexplicable for a Russian person, which no one has the right to violate. This is the infinite power of this city.
All photos of the author.
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