Los Angeles is a low city. The people are intentionally bigger than the buildings. They must be, by their own desire. They came there from everywhere to be big, or high, or seen. Others came for work, for possibility. They sprawl out, with an apparent refusal to live on top of each other in skyscrapers like the ones in New York or Tokyo. Not here. They are individuals and they will not be underneath anyone else. Unless, of course, they live in the hills above the city. This is not only acceptable, but desirable. The Hollywood Hills are a sort of utopia.
The palm trees are the eyes, looking down and observing, monuments of an oasis in the dessert. I want to see what they see, unobstructed, unbiased.
The smog above the city is its hovering polarities, the love and hate of body, of culture, of gender and environment. Why would you want to live there? says everyone living everywhere else. Why would you want to live there? says the citizens of LA about Des Moines or Butte or Boise or Seattle.
Heads up, back down. You walk into a cafe or bar and watch the heads come up from the computers, the (anti)social networks, to see who you are. Once they see that you are no one, back down. Low city.
If you live there, you must have a strong sense of self to survive. Everywhere the message is that you could be important, you could be valuable, but you most likely are not. Keep trying, though. This is a place of possibility! And it really is. So much is possible.
I went to a church there, a modern evangelical church, and the screaming desire of the people was to find worth. The songs were all themed on asking God to give worth and value and healing and hope. The sermon was about our potential because of God. Very self-centric, and I place no right or wrong on it; I’m simply stating the obvious. It was not about who God is or might be, but who we are because of God. I was not expecting it, but there it was, everywhere.