Thursday, September 03, 2009
LOS ANGELES: FAKE GRASS, TRUE FREEDOM
I'm a West Coast girl by birth.
I grew up on two islands, with the Pacific Ocean at my doorstep: Oahu, Hawaii and Whidbey Island, Washington.
As a toddler, I ran around naked on Kailua beach, our dog beside me. As a teen, I danced at parties on Double Bluff beach, with bonfires, cheap beer, and a sky full of stars overhead.
But I've lived on the East Coast for several years, and seen plenty of claustrophobic New Yorkers who head west, searching for answers that can only be found by reaching the edge of the continent. And even if textbooks tell us that American freedom is about the right to vote and peaceful demonstration, that's not what comes to mind first...
American freedom is driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, the music cranked up, the sun shining, the ocean sparkling like an obscenely gorgeous sapphire necklace on woman far too young to wear it.
This freedom is a religion. It permeates LA. It's the freedom to re-write history, with no one to scold you for forgetting about the past. It's the freedom of unabashed ambition, unhindered by ghosts. You can recreate yourself. Whether you're an actor shaving years off your age or if you're Born Again, like the people I saw being baptized in the Pacific Ocean.
This is why I think there is something very earnest about this city, even if that defies the cliche. People really do believe in what they're selling. I love that. And to those who see the fake grass in front of homes and apartments and sneer about how phony LA is--that's your perception. Just because the grass is plastic doesn't mean it isn't real. It's just real plastic instead of grass.
See that? I'm an LA disciple already. One great weekend and I'm already enjoying the freedom to create my own reality.