A Los Angeles Primer

A Los Angeles Primer: LAX

Vast, confusing, punctuated by curiosities neither beautiful nor ugly, and demanding of both endurance and optimism, Los Angeles' airport provides a tempting symbol for the city itself. But why only now has it felt the need to become "world class"?

About the Author

Colin Marshall hosts and produces the podcast Notebook on Cities and Culture. These columns present essays adapted from his book-in-progress, "A Los Angeles Primer: Mastering the Stateless City."
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A Los Angeles Primer: Universal City

A Los Angeles Primer: Universal City

For a high-profile metropolis, Los Angeles has a curious relationship with the word "city," especially in the brand of a "virtual place" like Universal CityWalk.
A Los Angeles Primer: Rodeo Drive

A Los Angeles Primer: Rodeo Drive

This four-block spectacle of imagemaking, from tourists conquering the commercial summit to brands projecting themselves as maximally expensive, would give any postmodern academic ...
A Los Angeles Primer: Torrance

A Los Angeles Primer: Torrance

Even Angelenos who "don't need a car" may want to borrow one to go to Torrance, the South Bay town that has a surprising concentration of Japanese culture.
A Los Angeles Primer: L.A. Live

A Los Angeles Primer: L.A. Live

Los Angeles is the most beautiful city in the world, if only at night and from a distance. This observation resonates with many Angelenos, and when they quote it, they often refer ...
A Los Angeles Primer: Pico Boulevard

A Los Angeles Primer: Pico Boulevard

In the early 1980s, a young Jonathan Gold decided to eat at every restaurant on Pico Boulevard. He never completed this impossible task (though things worked out for him anyway), b ...
A Los Angeles Primer: Grand Central Market

A Los Angeles Primer: Grand Central Market

This urban emporium has, since 1917, provided downtowners a place to buy their produce; more recently, to buy moles, dried chiles, and herbal medicines; even more recently, to buy ...
A Los Angeles Primer: Westwood

A Los Angeles Primer: Westwood

Angelenos between forty and fifty years old remember Westwood not just as a place, but as the place. People agree that the neighborhood just south of UCLA felt livelier before, but ...
A Los Angeles Primer: Park La Brea

A Los Angeles Primer: Park La Brea

How many degrees separate any given Angeleno from someone who has lived in Park La Brea? The famously dense WWII-era housing complex also illustrates the city's unfortunate tendenc ...
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