“But the light in Los Angeles,” I would say, a rebuttal to others’ clearly opaque assertions that El Lay was solely traffic, pollution, and/or celebrity, a refusal to purchase their pessimism about my home, “it’s so sharp!”
The lights in Los Angeles do gleam. During its wake-up quietude or smog-choked rush hours, in that way only the Pacific assembles sunrises and sunsets and afternoons sitting in traffic, overnight with a gearbox in neutral free-falling off the Sepulveda Pass, a fogged downtown gilded from afar, those pristine mountain-bedecked mornings after a rain — in Los Angeles the light is wondrous and weird, refractive, at times alien and incredible, neon and halogen and monoxide, and a thing that beckons so many here. It was why I came.
And certainly, it’s a town of spotlights. This is where you can come to make it.
My purpose in moving here was to go to school and to set up a studio, and then live, live it out, live out the dream I had of making it. Making it here.
Whatever that was, it isn’t.
Without a doubt, El Lay is bipolar. It’s wildly schizophrenic. It’s rude and brash. Dirty. Addicted. Addictive. Commercial and cunning. I kind of love that. There’s a grit here that’s very real in many neighborhoods where a sense of authenticity stands beside vulnerability. And yet, an endless presence of the hope to be its next billboard face stares into those corners.
I also hate this place. It’s miserable on a bad air day, which is often. The overwhelming notice here each week that homelessness is growing. Traffic sucks, mostly because the only way through traffic is to be an asshole, and this because greater magnitudes of asshole sophomorically fuck it all up. In fact, defensively, you’re more likely to get killed if you drive nice than no — let fierce goddesses damn those slow, fucking Priuses in the left lane on the 10.
And while weighing out all the pros and cons of whether to stay or go, somewhat resignedly, the decision feels ultimately ordained: In the end I’m being priced-out by climbing rents and shunned after three months unable to find decent paying work which makes some sort of dent in my student loan debt without requiring me to drive all over town six days a week.
So goodbye, Los Angeles, this happened much quicker than hoped. I’m headed to the desert, where I’ve always wanted to live and had anyway planned to end up. I’m moving out there, as other Angelenos have, where it’s still cheap, to set up a studio, of sorts, far from your starlets, your wannabes, and your curiously inflating art market. Maybe I’ll import my work for exhibition, I won’t really be that far away but just enough. Maybe these vibrating doubts of the artworld game will become stronger, and I’ll eventually realize the favor you did by easing me out. Maybe I’ll just write more in desert storms of quiet, instead.
Whatever the case, El Lay, I wish you the best because I respect you — it’s really hard to make it here because so much of you is ingratiating. So much of you is just trying to get a little further than the car beside. It is a place where people come, with drive, to realize varied creative dreams. To be chosen, by one and many. To have lustfully fascist sunsets remind us all we’re down here on a stage. Performing. Underneath luminescent gels. All trying to be someone, some kind of selves, for someone else. Underneath your sharp helicopter spotlights, stopped and waiting, watched and wondering whether, when the show will begin. Asking through strident freeway din beyond the bright street light, for how long will this show hold out?