Street-wise in L.A. Literature: A Cultural Geography
Where Are They)
"I used to like this town," I said, just to be saying something and not to be thinking too
"A long time ago.
There were trees along Wilshire Boulevard.
Beverly Hills was
a country town.
Westwood was bare hills and lots offering at eleven hundred dollars and
Hollywood was a bunch of frame houses on the interurban line.
was just a big dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style, but goodhearted and
It had the climate they just yap about now.
People used to sleep on porches.
Little groups who thought they were intellectual used to call it the Athens of America.
wasn't that, but it wasn't a neon-lighted slum either."
We crossed La Cienega and went into the curve of the Strip.
The Dancers was a blaze
The place was packed.
The parking lot was like ants on a piece of overripe fruit.
"Now we get characters like this Steelgrave owning restaurants.
We get guys like that
fat boy that bawled me out back there.
We've got big money, the sharp shooters, the
percentage workers, the fast-dollar boys, the hoodlums out of New York and Chicago and
We've got the flash restaurants and night clubs they run, and the
hotels and apartment houses they own, and the grifters and con men and female bandits
that live in them.
The luxury trades, the pansy decorators, the Lesbian dress designers,
the riffraff of a big hard-boiled city with no more personality than a paper cup.
Out in the
fancy suburbs dear old Dad is reading the sports page in front of a picture window, with
his shoes off, thinking he is high class because he has a three-car garage.
Mom is in front
of her princess dresser trying to paint the suitcases out from under her eyes.
is clamped onto the telephone calling up a succession of high school girls that talk pigeon
English and carry contraceptives in their make-up kit."
"It is the same in all big cities, amigo."
"Real cities have something else, some individual bony structure under the muck.
Angeles has Hollywood--and hates it.
It ought to consider itself damn lucky.
Hollywood it would be a mail -order city.
Everything in the catalogue you could get
better somewhere else."
Play It As It Lays
Maria drove the freeway.
...Once she was on the freeway and had maneuvered her way
to a fast lane she turned on the radio at high volume and she drove.
She drove down the
San Diego to the Harbor, the Harbor up to the Hollywood, the Hollywood to the Golden
State, the Santa Monica, the Santa Ana, the Pasadena, the Ventura.
She drove as a
riverman runs the river, every day more attuned to its currents, its deceptions, and just as