The streets connect this collection of neighborhoods we call Los Angeles. They are our conduit, our communion, our shared experience and time together. The freeways are our rivers. The strip malls are our artworks. The parking lots are our catwalks.
Old school urban theorists and New Yorkers can talk about the dissociated and decentralized, dusting off fifty year old quotes about there being no ‘there’ there. But what they fail to see are the changing realities and new paradigms of a place that continues to absorb so many people’s private dreams and public nightmares. And the city adapts accordingly: the fastest growing transit system in the country, a skyscraper boom, a majority minority, a home to the largest population of 39 ethnic diasporas.
All the talk about fragments and sprawl misses a central point: it is not the distances and differences that matter, but the connections and contacts. When pure white light is dispersed it reveals a full spectrum of wavelengths and colors. I am thinking of cellular structures, ancient Greek city states, unique microclimates, the many languages of mountain peoples. Los Angeles is its beaches and mountains, its June Gloom and Valley heat, its surfer and biker cultures, Westside’s play on Playa Vista and Eastside’s echo Echo Park. Such a multifaceted identity is not splintered, but strengthened.
Seven years ago Beyoncé introduced us to Sasha Fierce. Born during Crazy in Love and revealed on the second disc of I am…Sasha Fierce, she was described as Beyoncé’s sexy, sensual, aggressive alter ego. The Queen B was quick to explain that this was not the person you would meet if you were to catch her on the street; Sasha is strictly for the stage, a persona that allows the artist to live and work in dualities.
It is not the distances and differences that matter, but the connections and contacts.
In LA we all live and work in such dualities. All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. And the streets are mean. These girls bring the fierce in all its angel colors.