August 1st, 2014

Baby and me

Adios, So-Cal

LA-LA-LA, LA-LA, Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye

(In which Young Geoffrey looks down upon his betters and wonders just how many insensitive terms he can squeeze into his opening paragraph)

Dateline: Citadell Outlet Mall, somewhere in the Greater Los Angeles area, August 1, 2014 — Never let it be said that (however wonderful she is) Raven is perfect. Within that beautiful oriental figure lurks the heart of a savage hunter-gatherer, an attavistic appetite she must feed every few months. It took me a while to realize that it is the process, the hunt if you will, that fulfills her. As often as not she comes home from an afternoon at the mall empty-handed yet fully-sated.

As for me, well, though once upon a time I loved to haunt book and comic stores — as much for the process as the purchaces — that time is long gone. Shopping leaves me emotionally empty and malls make me a little crazy.

But here I am, as how could I not be? Raven wants to visit an outlet mall before we head back to a real city and so I sit at a shaded table, an out-sized (60 ounce!) lemonade from ("100% Employee Owned"?1?) Hot Dog on a Stick at my side, and a few minutes to ponder Los Angeles.

In some ways, there's not much to ponder and nothing to say that hasn't been said, for decades, by many others.

The "city" is an ecological obscenity and a cultural wasteland, its arterail roadways seemingly more important than the city they ostensibly serve. As I mentioned in my previous entry I have for years thought it was "only" a hypertrophied version of Sudbury, Ontario — an ugy, sprawl with no literal or metaphorical heart — and I was absolutely right. The analogy is spot-on. Or would be but for the vast difference in scale. Sudbury is a "city" of about 160,000 people, LA a "city" of 20 or so million.

But still ... in both places you will most likely need a car to buy a litre (or pint) of milk from whatever your starting-point; in neither place is a genuine city-like neighbourhood obvious. And in oth places, one's energy-footprint must, of necessity be huge.

Which is a rather long way of saying we've spent one fuck of a lot of time stuck in traffic.

I'm glad I've experiened LA, if only for the experience, but I have zero desire to come back (Wendy, if we are to see one another again, it will almost certainly have to be north of the border, not south of it). At the risk of sounding like the small-town bumpkin I suddenly feel like I am, the air stinks, the drivers are crazy and the food isn't even very good — though, as as been reported, the portions do tend towards enormous.

As has been noted by many others, it is a shocking series of contrasts between rich and poor, all set on a temporary desert soundstage, almost certain to create 20 million refugees when the last of the accessible fresh water has been flushed into the Pacific Ocean.

And yet, I have enjoyed myself. Partly just because of the strangenss of the place, and partly for things like yesterday's trip to the beach north of the City in Malibu, where I had the pleasure of learning something of the ocean's power first-hand.

Yes, I swam in and againt the pounding surf, got tossed around and had salt water flood my nose. It was the first time I've really enjoyed the process of swimming, of playing in the water, since I was a teenager at least.

We got there via a scenic route and so had a taste of the local mountains and desert via [Routh 10?], before the sprinklers at the local private university, Peperdine, blandly ignoring the signs warning of major drought reminded us that, in California as perhaps nowhere else in North America, money speaks louder than any thing or any one else. (It was fun to drive around the very vertical campus, although it put a strain on our little Chevy Trio.)

Anyway, it seems fitting that my last taste of LA should be in an equally unsustainable private outlet mall, which doesn't really seem all that different from, say, the Eaton Centre but for the fact that it is all on one level and they haven't bothered to put a roof over the whole thing. You're still at late-capitalism's Church of the Almighty Brand, with nary a bookstore or one-of-a kind retailer in sight.

Glad I came, but even happier that I'm leaving. Goodbye Los Angeles.

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