KCET Departures asks, "What's your or your family's Los Angeles arrival story?"
Today, we hear from writer, Los Angeles River expert and Los Angeles Urban Ranger senior ranger Jenny Price:
"In 1998, I had just finished up my PhD and I didn't want to go into academia; I wanted to be a writer. I was living in St. Louis, where I grew up. Within a month of getting my degree, I packed up my car and moved out here."
"It wasn't an exceptional trip, except that the person who had agreed to sublet her apartment to me backed out while I was in Colorado, so I didn't have a place lined up to live.
"I moved out to L.A. for a bunch of reasons. One was that I had very unexpectedly fallen in love with the city when my brother David had moved out here earlier in the decade.
"I thought I hated Los Angeles - I had never really been here, but I thought I hated it! I was a nature kid and I thought L.A. was sort of the 'anti-nature.' But my brother lived here and had a baby and I wasn't going to stay away from that.
"So I started coming out here to visit my nephew and I really, really liked L.A. and that was totally bewildering to me. I couldn't even figure out why. I just knew that I really, really liked it. I liked the landscape and I liked a lot of things. So at some point I thought, 'Well, maybe I'll live here and try to figure out what it is I like about it.'
"Another reason I came was that I was ready for big city living, which is something I never thought I'd be interested in. But I'd gotten really interested in urban environments through writing my dissertation; New York was out because I have a bad knee and that's an all-concrete city, a walking city.
"I'd also been procrastinating with my dissertation by writing TV scripts - and I loved that and I was going to pursue that, even though I haven't so far.
"And I really wanted to live someplace where there were a lot of single people. And I thought that L.A. would be a real great place to write about urban environments - which turned out to be true.
"When I moved out here, I knew some people - like Bob Gottlieb up at Oxy - doing river stuff. The LA Weekly asked me if I wanted to contribute to their 'Best Of' issue and I decided I was going to write about birding on the L.A. River. That was my first time I really went out scouting on the River. And I was totally blown away.
"There are times as a writer, as a creator, times in different careers, when you know something is important, and you know it's significant, but you don't really yet know why? That's what happened with me with pink flamingos for my dissertation. It was like, 'I know there's something really really big here but I didn't know what it was.'
"And that was the same with the River. I just had the sense that this is a great topic, this is important, this is going to tell me a lot about Los Angeles. I think the L.A. River is as good a window into Los Angeles as you can get."
-- Jenny Price
(as told to Jeremy Rosenberg)
- Departures References:
- Welcome to LA River
- Jenny Price, three videos
- Jenny Price's "The Power of Place: Map L.A."
- L.A. River Story Share
- Jenny Price is a longtime Venice resident. Here is Departures: Welcome to Venice*
- Arrival Story Archives
- Arrival Stories -- View the Complete Archive
- Join Departures Tonight!
- Join Departures and the Los Angeles Urban Rangers tonight, August 4, 2011 at MOCA and tell us your L.A. River story as part of the L.A. River Ramble. More information here.