Saturday, January 19, 2013

My Los Angeles

When I first moved to Los Angeles I kept thinking over and over again about a Quentin Crisp quote from the documentary The Celluloid Closet.  He says that when his friend first came back to England from visiting the United States, he said "It's more like the movies than you would ever believe."

In her book An Atlas of Emotion, Giuliana Bruno says (I paraphrase) that the places we go are influenced in our perceptions by the movies we've seen that take place there.  That's certainly true for me.  I cannot see The Regent Beverly Wilshire without being in Pretty Woman (the Los Angeles ur-text for me, even if my overwhelmingly intense love for it is fraught with ambivalence).  I cannot walk by Royce Hall at UCLA without feeling the footsteps that Heather Langenkamp walked in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3.

There's a part of me that still wants to move to Venice because Sarah Jessica Parker lived there in L.A. Story.  Los Angeles exists as much as a compendium of movie clips for me than as the place where I live.  Like everything in my life, the movies and the reality are inseparable--they overlap each other, intertwine with each other, are superimposed on one another.

So I thought that I would compile the screenshots of the people and places that compose my Los Angeles.  The cinematic people and places that are invested with my emotions.  I realized, while compiling the images, that Los Angeles is and is not more like the movies than I'd ever dreamed.

"My Los Angeles," my movie Los Angeles, is very rich, white, straight, and female.  I am only one of those things.  If Troop Beverly Hills is utterly central to My Los Angeles...

...I am literally a Culver City Red Feather.

Even though I definitely sympathize with Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard...

...I'm pretty sure that I live in the same neighborhood as her stalker.

If My Los Angeles excludes a lot of who and what I am, and the people I have in my life, it mostly says something interesting (to me) about the images that most molded my perceptions of the place when I was growing up.  For all of its flaws, I still love My Los Angeles, the truths it tells and those that it does not.

I love Los Angeles because, unlike New York, its *atmosphere* lives up to all of my movie fantasies.  One of my favorite things about Los Angeles is that you can see every aspect of its post-WWII history everywhere: in the architecture, in its leftover gigantic Arby's cowboy hats.  Only the old canonical stuff seems to remain in New York--*everything* lingers here.

I'm including my screenshots, my memories, my archive of Los Angeles movie feelings, out of any order other than that I like this order.  This is how they appear to me every day while I exist in this city.  I've skipped a ton of canonical Los Angeles movies.  You will not find any film noir or Blade Runner here.  Those are important Los Angeles movies.  They're not mine.  


No comments:

Post a Comment