Monday, December 4, 2006

Picturing Los Angeles

This weekend's L.A.Times had a special section on What L.A. Gave The World: from dreams, movies and scandals, to games, sprawl, food, style, innovation, wheels... L.A., in a nutshell. A fun read, with a great photo gallery [borrowed from below].
"Compared to Cairo, Beijing, London or New York, the history of L.A. may be relatively short, undervalued and often misunderstood, but to find it you only need to look. There is no more evocative way to begin than with a photograph," write documentary filmmakers Jon and Nancy Wikman in their book Picturing Los Angeles. The pitch:
"A fast-paced story, beginning with Mexican roots and Wild West youth, to the water wars of the turn of the twentieth century, the birth and influence of the movies, the evolution of an automobile enthralled city, driven by a search for personal fulfillment, scandals, injustices, and unkept promises, the development of a major center of innovation and technology, the creation of America's busiest gateway for international trade, and the unexpected emergence of the world's most multicultural metropolis." Ouf!

"Life in America's second largest city can seem to defy the widest lens and fastest shutter speed, but decades of individual photographs, like frames of motion picture film, offer glimpses of an evolving portrait. One hundred years of movie making have turned the streets, neighborhoods and landscapes of Los Angeles into an international image of America. But L.A. is much more than a product of Hollywood. It is one of the world's most complex and diverse urban environments, with an economy that ranks with nations, not just cities."
The book tells us that story. It is brilliantly written, with a ton of factoids, juicy gossip, and more than 550 photographs. They're all in B&W and rather small, yet they jump-start the reader's imagination of a city whose preferred way to deal with the past seems to be demolition -- reinvention, or remodelling, in local speak.
"Los Angeles has been called a mirror to America and a reflection of the future. If you think you know L.A., it's time to look again," says the promo. We're sold.
photos LA Times
[none from "Picturing Los Angeles" except
cover : pix in B&W/too small for good scans]