Monday, July 26, 2010

Utterly Contemptible

LA - First impression: the city is crowded, colorless (except for that of concrete and sand) and furious. People are high strung, loud and seemingly self-serving. Drive crazy - NH's worst on a grand scale. People I've met/seen seem fake, hard to tell who is genuine. Billboards and ads litter the surfaces of everything, from cars to buildings; the lack of billboards is something one tends not to notice in NH and VT. Their absence just seems right. The smog hangs over the city and the airport. We hear about the smog, but it's nothing until you see it. The Hollywood sign, an American icon, sits barely visible on the distant mountain, shaded grey. Even The Sign is suffocating.

The people are immersed in the consumer culture. Logos blazoned on everything they wear, prominently displayed for all to see and worship. Actors and actresses are frequently the topic of conversation along with their adulterous lives and their up coming films. Actual conversation is nothing more than a few words as they quickly check their phones for the latest gossip and entertainment news. A fifteen year old girl argues with her mother in the hotel lobby over the fact that she cannot get her own hotel room, only a cool $169 a night, because every upscale hotel in Pasadena is booked solid due to numerous goings on, including my conference. I smile and chuckle at her sorrows...

I must only be seeing the worst of the city. The run down houses next to the highway. This surely can't be a snapshot of life in LA. What is? The affluent homes on the mountain? I can't blame the people who live next to the highway; for all I know they don't have the means to live anywhere else among the over-inflated prices, over-taxed populous of this city.

My first glimpses of the city made me feel disgusted, appalled, and even a bit queasy... but this can probably be written off as an effect of all the exhaust fumes I inhaled on the 40 minute trip to my hotel. You've caught me by now. Call me out. I am an elitist from the Northeast taking my $25 shuttle ride to my hotel with 5 other people entering into a city that is presenting me with a wealth of options for entertainment and fun, if I'm willing to pay. I am the elitist who would rather canoe with a rented canoe on a lonesome lake or who would rather go for a hike, hell a walk, instead of paying some astronomical amount for a movie ticket for the privilege to lavish the Hollywood folk with praise; the elitist who would rather make a $5 dinner with food from the local market instead of indulging myself by dining at a $100+ restaurant the "stars" eat at. They probably shit in the bathroom too, see you there. Bring a quarter for admission. I'm the elitist?

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