“Where We Are” is about the place we call L.A. and the often avoided conversation Angeleños have about its past and its conflicted present. I believe places matter, but their intersection with our lives is often obscured or ignored. And if we reach out in longing, we grasp mostly clichés of a city that’s always painted in the colors of smog, that’s always seen from a height, from a seat in a descending jetliner, from a freeway overpass. From there, the city looks like a collection of absences: the absence of hierarchies, of a center, of any authenticity. Finally, we’re absent, too, displaced and wrapped in reveries of substitute cities more adequate to the demands of our desire. “Where We Are” questions, argues, reflects, and in other ways challenges these Los Angeles clichés. I’m not a historian. I don’t live in the City of Los Angeles. I don’t drive. My qualifications for writing about a place I love. ~ D.J. Waldie
The new permanent exhibition "Becoming Los Angeles" opens on Sunday at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park. I had a small part in the press preview on Wednesday and got to say a few words about what "becoming" might mean to Angeleños.
L.A. was a center of suburban farming from the turn of the century to the late 1940s. Chickens and rabbits, corn and rhubarb, beans and tomatoes once flourished on the doorsteps of working-class Angeleños.
Los Angeles defies easy definition, although we try. When we talk about the city, familiar dystopian and utopian images crowd into the conversation. When we talk about Los Angeles, should we be talking about something else?
According to Rick Cole, "Simply speeding up the dysfunctional (development approval) process is clearly not the solution." And Ron Kaye says the result will be "a revolutionary change that allows every project to be put up for sale to fund political corruption."
CEQA - the state's increasingly beleaguered environmental review process - empowers neighborhood residents to question development plans. Will a question of parking put new teeth in the law at the expense of streamlining the process?
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