Friday, July 15, 2005

Valley girl

Two days in California. Two days away from my usual amount of frenetic news-checking and computer connection, and I'm experiencing a bit of withdrawal and culture shock, as expected.

I certainly know Los Angeles--in fact, I lived here for a year, back in the 70s--but it changes all the time. It gets more and more crowded, with more freeway traffic. Back then, the only really congested times on the freeways were rush hours, but those days are gone. In recent years rush hour seems to have expanded to fill almost all the hours.

There are other differences. One hears English only somewhat sporadically in certain locations (the airport and the car rental place, for example). Then there's the unique and almost endless consumer variety of Ventura Boulevard, which has grown exponentially. To me, the excess is somewhat off-putting and seductive at the same time, its greatest attraction by far being the restaurants and groceries with their amazing variety and almost dizzying choice of ethnicities. In a single block or two, one can find Argentinian, Thai, Persian, Cuban, Indian, barbecue, and Japanese food, in an enticing parade of my very favorite sort of diversity.

One thing that doesn't ever change is the strangeness and the beauty of the vegetation, which hits me anew every time I arrive here from New England--the tropical flowers, the oleanders and the bougainvillea, and all the other cacti and trees and plants which to me are nameless and exotic, and tell me immediately and wordlessly that I've arrived in a very different place.

And then there's the heat, at least in the San Fernando Valley, where I'm based. (That's "the Valley" to most people, as in "Valley Girl," the song). When we landed at LAX the night was cool and almost brisk, with a fine breeze, so much so that I wished I had on a sweater. But by the time I got to the Valley, only a forty-minute drive later, the temperature had risen by about twenty-five degrees. It's been too hot during the day to enjoy doing much outside except scurrying from one air-conditioned venue to another. But still, enjoyable for my purposes, since my goal here is not to sightsee, but to visit old friends and new, and of course to do a lot of fine eating. The weather doesn't interfere with that.


At 10:08 PM, July 15, 2005, Blogger TmjUtah said...

I forget the hard number, but the settlement that eventually grew into LA died out at least three or four times (to the man)before deeper wells and water projects made life in Yerba Buena possible.

I lived in Santa Fe Springs for six months right after I seperated from the service in 'frisco.

(Yeah, I know that appelation ticks off the people from the City By The Bay. Good.)

The experience had a lot to do with us eventually ending up in Utah. We saw the same things happening in San Diego that were already ground into the fiber of LA.

I love the California deserts. Just can't stand any of the cities.

At 11:29 PM, July 15, 2005, Blogger Pancho said...

I too get entranced by some things in California, but mainly with the things further north than L.A. I hope to be in Monterey about this time next month.

Your comments about the traffic is interesting, because even in my smallish hometown [and ex hometown of TMJUtah by the way!] of Midland Texas the traffic is much more constant than it used to be. People just drive more than they used to years ago. Where half of them are going at any one time is a mystery to me.


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