A Matter of Perspective

In response to Pasta&Vinegar, two extremes of perspective: Los Angeles (or… how to drive a car in narrow hilly streets) versus the eight-lane highways of Montpellier.

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All cities have someone who dislikes them, even hates them. But Los Angeles may be unique as a target of reflexive worldwide disgust. It is disliked on a mythological level. It’s a metonym for everything that people hate about their own good cities. Pollution, disconnection, shallowness, disparity, violence, mediation, erasure… Los Angeles.

Romanticized places have to exist on some level as romantic fossils, and every flattering tourist asks the residents to measure their lives against a touristic ideal. One of the best things about LA is how it’s hidden behind a cloak of misunderstanding. It’s harder to suck the life out of something you can’t even see, much less understand.

Pity the romanticized places that have to measure themselves against the ideals of tourists. And pity the tourist who ends up lost in the narrow, winding streets of Los Angeles.

2 Replies to “A Matter of Perspective”

  1. Sure! Thanks for adding these, I fully agree with you.

    My blogpost only emerge from me being struck by how this car had trouble getting around in the narrow streets of Montpellier in the old town.

    When in the area, I generally spend my time near the seaside and I have to admit that the freeway/highway structures in this region is very close to SoCal (at its own level though).

  2. I didn’t mean to disparage your experience. I remember walking around old cities in France and Spain, and having to lie flat against the walls to let tiny cars fly past. It really is a different way of driving.

    It’s just something I’ve been thinking about for a while — the difference between expecting a charming old town and finding freeways, versus expecting a wasteland of freeways and finding a charming old town. Which mythology is harder to live within?

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