Los Angeles city of fallen angels and broken Dreams



Works Cited

Davis, Mike. “Fortress L.A.” Geography 100 Course Reader. New York: Vintage Books, 1992. 223-263.

Kaplan, Robert. “Travels into America’s Future.” The Atlantic Monthly (August 1998): 37-61.

Queenan, Joe. “Yo, San Francisco, You’re No L.A.” Los Angeles Times Magazine (October 25, 1998): 20-21.













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The City of Angels; to some, Los Angeles is the embodiment of the American dream- a sort of west coast “Statue of Liberty,” with opportunity at every corner and in every doorway. The city of razzle-dazzle, movie stars, and Hollywood’s walk of fame; for nearly a century Los Angeles has been perceived as the town of dreams. These are, of course, gross exaggerations, as is the perception that Los Angeles is the city of ceaseless riots and brutal racism. Naturally, as in every urban city, there is to an extent some truth in these myths, and because of Los Angeles’ unprecedented size and diverse population it tends to be picked on more often than even New York. Los Angeles is an anomaly- there is no other city in the world that could ever begin to rival it. Because people often hate what they cannot explain, writers especially love to tear Los Angeles apart. A well written argument, however, will include an extensive examination of the topic from every side ( in Los Angeles there are many sides to examine) and form an argument that persuades without alienating. In his article “Travels into America’s Future,” though initially relying on the cliche of ‘Los Angeles as the embodiment of the American dream’ to catch the readers’ attentions, writer Robert D. Kaplan ultimately makes a convincing argument towards a positive perception of Los Angeles by examining the issues from many points of view, putting his topic in context through the use of comparisons, and by arguing subtly, so as to make the reader forget he is being persuaded.
To fully understand the common fallacies associated with Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, one must first understand the diversity and complexity of its people and culture. On first approach, Los Angeles appears to be a utopia, with “sandstone cliffs, a peacock-blue ocean, and and an endless bar of cream colored sand... it often appears too beautiful to be real” (Kaplan 37). Los Angeles, however,
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is comprised of a lot more than palm trees and rich movie stars. It is a sprawling city, incorporating many different cultural areas. It is often thought of as a “city state... not because L.A. is similar to Athens or Sparta but because of the very size and eye popping variety of this thriving urban confederation, with its hinterland of oil refineries and agricultural valleys. Santa Monica has the ambience of a beach resort, East Los Angeles is like Mexico, Monterey Park is like Asia, and Cerritos is an Asian Levittown for the nineties” (Kaplan 41). Traveling through Los Angeles, one often feels as though they have traveled far and wide, experiencing many different cultures within just blocks of each other. People from all over the world come to Los Angeles hoping to find opportunity and freedom from oppressors, people like Zaheer Viriji, a twenty-seven year old ethnic-Indian immigrant from the East African Nation of Zimbabwe. In Kaplan’s article, Viriji recalls being harassed by police thugs in Africa. He says that “race relations are so much better in Southern California... Viriji went first to England and then to Canada, where there are large Indian communities. But he didn’t feel free. ‘In those places the community is what’s happening. Here... it’s YOU that is happening’ ” (Kaplan 38). Viriji is but one example of many who come to Los Angeles searching for the elusive ‘American Dream.’ This intense lure attracts people of every race, age and religion, creating one of the most diverse populations of any city in the world. This constant cultural ebb and flow, often creates friction, and, coupled with ignorance, is what has created many of the stereotypes and stigmas that Los Angeles and its residents are constantly fighting.
Los Angeles is a city that, in the eye of public perception wears many different masks. The media in Los Angeles as anywhere, has a tendency to create and fuel these stereotypes. Mike Davis,