A BRIEF GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES IN SEVEN FACES
There is a large transient population of tourists, job-hunters, climate-seekers, elderly retired persons, and Hollywood hopefuls.
With these comparative newcomers, who form the majority of the population, ties with the home state remain strong. Angelenos dearly love to reminisce about “back East” and “back East” may be anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.
This attachment for the old home furnishes a clue to the character of the City of the Angels and its people. It suggests that the transplanted settler has never quite grown used to living here, has never quite been able to regard Los Angeles as his true home. Coming largely from the prairie regions, of rigorous climate and even more rigorous conventions, he suddenly finds himself in an exotic land of lofty purple mountains, azure ocean, and mild, seductive climate, where the romance of old Spain is nurtured and blends with the gaudiness of Hollywood, where rigid conventions are relaxed and comparative tolerance is the rule. To many a newcomer, Los Angeles is a modern Promised Land. It amazes and delights him, and thaws him out physically and spiritually. There is a heady fragrance in the air, and a spaciousness of sky and land and sea that give him a new sense of freedom and tempt him to taste new pleasures, new habits of living, new religions. Finding himself in the amusement capital of the West and at the hub of a vast natural playground offering every variety of sport from surf boarding to skijoring, he proceeds to have more fun than he ever dreamed was possible. He is fascinated by strange new industries and new agricultural products: movie studios, oil fields, almond orchards, vineyards, olive and orange groves. He encounters new and exotic types of people: movie actors and sombreroed Mexicans, kimonoed Japanese and turbaned Hindus. He develops an urge to try things that are novel and exciting, from Chinese herb doctors to Indian medicine men, from social credit to nudism, from a wine-colored stucco dwelling to a restaurant shaped like a hat. And because the array of things to do and see is so dazzlingly different from everything he has known, his curiosity is always whetted, his appetite never sated. He feels a certain strangeness in this place he now calls his home, a strangeness that is at once exhilarating and disturbing, and that he had not known in his native place “back East.”
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Julie Grace Immink is a social documentary photographer living in Los Angeles. She was born in the wagon of a traveling show. Exploring the streets with her camera is how she connects to the surrounding world. Her photographs are saturated with thoughts on life, death, faith and community. She gains inspiration from anything old and broken but believes in healing and restoration. Follow on tumblr at juliegracephotography.tumblr.com.
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit.
Los Angeles, I’m yours.
I found an old notebook behind a box on the top shelf of the closet. Who knows when it fell back there or how long it had been there.
Flipping through it, I found pages we had covered with battling blue and black ink, doodles of stars and hearts and swirls.
I remember that afternoon. We sat next to each other in a booth at a coffee shop, in between classes our second year of college. I got my notebook out to write down an idea I had for a short story—back when I still had confidence in my ideas. Frustrated at a dead end, you said, “just move the pen. It will come.” I suppose it did.
The faces you’d sketched and the words I’d written and bolded on the spine of the page. Page after page after page, destroyed with lazily held pens. Tiny, in a right corner, “I love you!!!” was written in your delicate script. An arrow I had drawn to the bottom of the same page lead to, “I love you more!!!” On the back, you had scribbled urgently, “you couldn’t possibly.”
We’d had too many cups of coffee and were bored and didn’t want to go to class. We stayed and giggled over those pages. We talked about music as we doodled. Talked about traveling. Talked about what we’d name our kids if we had any one day. When we got bored of that too, we walked back to campus and got in our cars to go home.
I don’t think I ever looked at those pages again. When I used the notebook again, I quickly flipped passed the filled spaces dismissing them. But last night, I ran my fingers over the ridges and dents left from pens being pressed too hard and let them run deep into my heart, causing an ache.
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I used to be a person that would get so upset and wounded when people bad mouthed or hated a band that I passionately loved. I used to hold that against people—true. How fruitless though? I listen to so many things, and that’s because music makes me feel so good. As a person that is hyperemotional (like myself, and btw is that a thing? I should look it up. I’m not manic.) music has a way of touching multiple senses at the same time and it lights me up.
One Friday night in San Francisco, it had just rained and our converted garage apartment smelled damp. It was at the end of a week I had been particularly insufferable. Josh surprised me. I was mopey and reckless, not showering, not eating right. I had come home from work and he drew me a bath. “Please,” I remember how tired and sad his eyes were. As I was dressing in my PJs in our room, he turned the lights out in the living room and lit a bunch of tealight candles so the room had a very faint glow. He turned up My Body Is A Cage and slowly walked over to me and grabbed me. He held me to him and started to slowly dance. It was the only way he felt like he could communicate to me that he understood. I buried my face in his neck and I let him hold me and kiss the top of my head and tell me, “I’m right here.” I didn’t cry, and it was the first night I didn’t cry in weeks. It was the slowest my heart had beat in a very long time. We danced to it 4 times in a row. Then I ate a real dinner.
Music is important to some people for different reasons. I think about that moment in our first living room when people talk about their favorite songs and favorite bands. I quietly wonder to myself what their story is for that piece of music—why? I hope it’s special. I hope it’s not. I hope it’s just because.