|L.A. Lives For Here And Now
by Doug McIntyre [radio
I've never understood why the eagle ended up as the national symbol when it's obvious it should have been the beaver. Americans like to build much more than we like to fly. So, with all due respect to our feathered friends, we should trade talons for buck teeth. While we're at it, we might as well ditch "In God We Trust." A more appropriate motto is "Pardon Our Dust."
America is a new land, and Los Angeles is the newest of the new world. We're a city not only uninterested in history; we actually resent it. That's the only way to explain why we'll tear down anything to build anything. If Los Angeles were ever to have an official singing group, it has to be Menudo, the Latin boy band that puts their singers out to pasture at puberty.
I was thinking about this the other day on Hollywood Boulevard while trying to remember where C.C. Brown's was. The north side of the street or the south? East of Highland or west?
Everyone has their favorite long gone L.A. landmark; the San Fernando orange groves, the Money Tree in Toluca Lake, the Red Cars, the Tick Tock - the list is as long as memory itself.
I guess this is why Americans are not only builders; we're also the most nostalgic people on Earth. We bulldoze our past and live our lives on a foundation of foggy memories.
It's an irony the ultra hip and terminally self-absorbed baby boom generation (I was born in '57, the boomingest of the baby boom years, with 4.5 million births) should also turn out to be the most nostalgic. Take a look on eBay at the endless variety of toys, trinkets, "collectibles" and assorted effluvia boomers sell and hoard to remind themselves of themselves.
But when you tear down landmarks to build strip malls, you tear the connective tissue that links the generations. We've traded the corner candy store for candy.com. We've become strangers in our own neighborhoods.
It might be a symptom of another approaching birthday, but I've got a big case of nostalgia - a yearning for a simpler time when the world made more sense. Reporting and reading today's headlines makes me wonder what our children will reminisce about. What will nostalgia be like in 2057?
"Remember when there were 7-Elevens on every corner?"
"Remember tribal band tattoos?"
"Remember drive-by shootings?"
Future nostalgia will tell the story of a Los Angeles none of us would recognize. A new generation will yawn at their elders' tales of tongue piercings, iPods and the time they actually used a pay phone! Today's children will tell their grandchildren about the good ol' days when it only took two hours to drive from the Valley to LAX. All the irritations and atrocities will be whitewashed by wistful thinking.
But this will be a painted dream every bit as much as the '60s nostalgia boomers peddle to each other - conveniently forgetting the murders of MLK, RFK, riots in Chicago, Detroit and Watts, focusing instead on hot braless chicks and Hendrix licks.
The Greatest Generation faced the Depression and war on an unimaginable scale. We asked black soldiers to fight for freedom abroad while denying it to them at home - we know the list of sins. Yet, while acknowledging the gloss of nostalgia, it's still hard not to look at Los Angeles today, America today, and not get a sinking feeling it really was better in the good 'ol days.
Even with our faults and flaws, all the "isms" of the past, America was more united, friendlier, optimistic - frankly, a better neighborhood in which to raise kids.
This past week, 30 young women, girls, battled it out in daylight in South L.A. A 22-year-old, five months pregnant, was run down and killed by a 21-year-old who reportedly screamed, "I'm gonna get you!" as she rammed her car into the mom-to-be. The LAPD says this wasn't a spontaneous fight, rather a pre-arranged rumble.
Father might not have "known best," but he knew better. In the '50s and '60s at least we still had fathers.
While we bulldoze what we have for what we don't need and argue and finger-point from election to election over stuff that doesn't matter, we have developed an uncanny knack for ignoring obvious alarm bells - kids having kids, kids killing kids. The Gangsta Kultcha of modern America is enough to make even the hardest heart nostalgic for those lazy, hazy, crazy eBay days of our youth. CRO
first appeared at L.A. Daily News
2006 Doug McIntyre