You didn’t build that

640px-Los_Angeles_Panorama
When businessmen try to recreate Los Angeles from scratch they end up with some horrifying misbegotten travesty like CityWalk or Santa Monica. They don’t know how to make a real Los Angeles. If tourists knew how to make a place like this there’d be at least one out East of San Bernardino where tourists come from, and there’s not. Tourists don’t know how to make one either.

Los Angeles evolved over the course of an infinitely complex network of centuries-long processes involving not only businessmen and tourists, but eccentrics, artists, black supremacists, white supremacists, Estonian supremacists, martian supremacists, socialists, Californios, pamphleteers, facists, chefs, communists, cultists, levellers, prophets, freed slaves, mathematicians, carpenters’ wives, religious fanatics, priests, nuns, drunks, writers, hippies, criminals, deserters, reporters, anarcho-syndicalists, architects, street people, police, bootleggers, beatniks, deportees, vintners, burger-flippers, fugitives, musicians, immigrants from a hundred countries, Indians from a thousand tribes, ham-and-eggers, engineers, flaneurs, land speculators, water speculators, squatters, Rastafarians, car dealers, drug dealers, new-dealers, double dealers, migrant workers, war-industry migrants, Okies, Arkies, hipsters (God bless ’em), politicians, landlords, gamblers, actors, traitors, sidewalk sitters, radio preachers, protestors, strikebreakers, clowns, satan-worshipping rocket scientists, warriors, pacifists, pioneering horticulturalists, visionary horticulturalists, delusional horticulturalists, people representing every possible permutation of those things, and on and on and on. It is a beautiful and unique place and is absolutely irreplaceable and no one can make another one.

So the Hollywood area BIDs think homeless people are like shit smears on the sidewalk and they poll tourists to make sure they agree and then hire private security guards to hose away the dirt with serial threats of violence and targeted hyperenforcement of ludicrously minor laws. The BIDs think this is going to make Hollywood into a clean, well-lighted place and then the music swells and the credits roll and everyone is rich and happy and safe. But really, they don’t understand the workings of the city they’re tinkering with. No one does. Like the young Socrates quibbling with Parmenides, the clean, well-lighted people of the BIDs don’t value the dirty, the unaesthetic, the revolting, the stubborn, the contrary, the nevertheless essential, people who live in our city and help make it the magical place that it is. The BID people should be careful that they don’t break this city while they’re trying to fix it. Where would we be then, without our lovely Los Angeles? Santa Monica? Shoot me.

Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license by Michael Field via Wikimedia Commons

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