Tuesday, May 21, 2002

OOps, I skipped a day! It had to be done and, in fact, this entry won't be no great shakes neither, because I am smack in the middle of edits on a long article about an L.A. rock band..

No telling how the final piece will feel, but the process of writing it was surprisingly pleasurable. I worked for 20 hours straight, but it didn't feel like it at all. It just felt like your average all-nighter. Part of the pleasure involved the fact that, for the first time in a big magazine, I'm addressing a subject that is deeply personal to me: the enigmatic and bittersweet beauty of Los Angeles. And the unspoken understanding of those who grew up here during the '70s and '80s in non-rich, weirdo families, in non-rich, weirdo neighborhoods. It's a peculiar experience that has rarely been captured in art.

You get a good feel of it in the novel "White Oleander." I liked it for that reason, and then I found out the author grew up on 5th Avenue and 8th St. in Koreatown, which is the street next to where I grew up (Third Ave. and 8th St.)

When you were bored and your mom said, why don't you take a walk around the block, you would either walk down 5th Avenue or Westchester Pl., which was lined with magnificent carob trees (I think) that made the street extremely shady and moody. The trees also shed funny brown pods that rattled when you shook them. If you cracked a pod open, it smelled like dog poop, but it tasted sweet like candy. The trees had powerful roots that pushed up the sidewalk so that it was extremely hilly, perfect for stunt bicycle-riding. I loved Third Avenue best, but Westchester had a mysterious, magnetic quality that made it a great place to visit.

My brother, Ben, told me recently in grave tones that they had cut down all the trees on Westchester, and that now it looked like any other street. I drove by and it was true. The street was bright and the houses were sunny and the sidewalks were flat. The magic was gone.

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