Los Angeles, or almost

“So fuck you, Los Angeles, fuck your palm trees, and your highassed women, and your fancy streets …”

John Fante

Here we are in Whittier, California, deep in the heart of greater Los Angeles. Deep in the heart of the gnawing, insatiable emptiness. Where have all the beautiful people gone?
“Deep in the heart of Mexico,” Jun interjects, offering an instant edit to my facile bullshit.
We came here to see my bastard brother Jun. Korean by birth, American by dubious choice. He says he looks Filipino. Is this is self-deprecation? I don’t know.
For some inexplicable reason, maybe Confucian filial piety turned to out and out self-hatred, Jun’s a long-haul trucker. His girlfriend in Chicago just kicked him out. He had it coming, for sure.
He’s adrift in L.A., living the American dream-cum-nightmare. He says he’s looking for another shot. I conjecture maybe he’s just looking for a prostitute who doesn’t cost that much or look so good that he’d want to make her a habit.
He’s laughing now, but inside we’re all crying. Our blackened souls are wet with tears.
It is the inescapable horror of life in the post-American century.
I point out it’s always been Mexico. Sure, we stole it away at the point of a gun back in the middle of the 19th century, but the Hispanic folks are taking it back, one day at time.
God help them.
Yes, those fucking palm trees. Aside from the palm trees and the low-slung Spanish architecture, it is the same here as everywhere else.
Still, here we are. In the orbit of Hollywood, the smog, the colossal prodigality that makes Los Angeles the most American of cities. I say that knowing nothing of Los Angeles aside from what I’ve seen in the movies and what I read in “Ask the Dust.”
It’s just the hackneyed rot I figure I’m supposed to say while sitting in Starbucks ($7.45 for grande mocha, grande Pike Place drip — get the fuck out of here. Grande Pike Place? In Los fucking Angeles? Goddamn Madison Avenue horseshit, from sea to shining sea — and kids cocoa) and watching the SUVs passing before me.
I see you Famous Footwear. I see you too, Michaels (The Arts and Crafts Store!), and you also, Petco. From near to far, from here to there, the same old bullshit is everywhere.
The regional peculiarities are nothing more than a meretricious veil disguising the stultifying homogeneity. A hypnotic parade of consumer sameness dominates America from California to the New York island.
Yet we are here. And Jun can spoil Max. And I can rub Jun’s shoulder, tell him how handsome he is and make him squirm in his seat. This I like to do, because I am a son of a bitch.

Max works Uncle Jun for a grande chocolate-chip cookie.

We are here. On the perimeter of Los Angeles. In the heart of America.

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One Response to Los Angeles, or almost

  1. Kenny says:

    How can you not love, L.A.?
    The West is the best, yo. Get here and we’ll do the rest.
    Of all the cities I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out in (which is a very small number compared to you worldly Wallingfords), Los Angeles has always been my favorite vacation destination. But then again, I’m a West Coast kind of guy.
    Good to see you still getting along, though.
    And good to see Max is still on the team. That shirt looks good.

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