May 10, 2013

Pueblo de la Reina de los Ángeles. *

Before ever stepping foot in LA I had adopted three cities as my own, as my home…

My hometown Porto will always be the gloomy, melancholic cascade of granite that assures me of my heritage, that embodies the metaphoric bridges I will often have to cross over turbulent, but golden waters.  

Amsterdam was my teenage love… not for the obvious touristy cloud of weed smoke, but for its human-scale size that is combined with all the richness of a large-scale melting pot. It is understandable, relatable, calm in its chaos of cultures and beliefs.

NY was the love I always waited for. This city was mine before I even met her... and meeting her was overwhelmingly familiar. It is merely a place and yet it is just about...everything. It is epic. It is grandiose. It is recognizable and sensible. It is hectic and concentrated. It is creative and free. It is proud and a bit snob. It is the whole world in this one, very unique place.

Los Angeles, in its spread geography and its overpowering inconsistency, was nothing I could compare to any big city I knew. LA is not easy to visit, to glance over, to love at first sight… It is the dangerous, edgy guy you were never meant to love. It takes time to understand all its layers and its strange, yet laid-back ways. And the more I gave it a chance, the more I tried to relate, the more I saw all the wonders of its imperfections. How splendorous  of a disaster!

LA is the mirror of the most amazing and inspiring decay of the norms that rule our society. And yet it is human. There is humanity in this place, a strength in the human interactions that are unprecedented.

Los Angeles is extreme… it is extreme in its beauty, in its dreams and in its habits. Los Angeles is contradictory. It’s the glitz and glam, the Barbie dolls, the hollowness and all the fake you can buy and build with a scalpel and a palm tree in the backyard. In its darkest side this place is also the heroin and the meth, the hookers, the smog and the harrowing class-divide between the Hills and Compton. Los Angeles can be squeaky clean and filthy, in all the vastness of these assertions, all at the same time. LA is all these contradictions… as we all are.  People are made of contrasting peculiarities and principles and so is this city. It is haunting. 

This is the city where dreams seem possible, tangible, real and yet this is the city where too many dreams come to die.  It is a very grounding place when mirroring our own disgrace, our own mortality and all our flaws, while always sustaining itself on hopes and reveries of fantasy visions. LA is, as a city, what we are as humans. We fight through life, trying to bring the best in us to be taken seriously; we cradle ourselves in dreams through the lowest lows in the hopes of reaching the life we will be proud to show; always struggling to hide the dark side of our moon, to mask it in our own glitz and some bright neon lights.

In LA I found myself. I revisited myself countless times in this stunning disgrace!

Los Angeles I'm Yours.

(*) Original name given by the Spanish settlers to the city of Los Angeles, CA.