The Physical Description of Los Angeles

This is an imitation of an excerpt from “Friday Night Lights” by H.G. Bissinger.

Anna Philipous

You drive into the heart of Los Angeles on Friday for the first time and become overwhelmed by the instant culture shift that something inside tells you to leave out of fear. Stopped at the light of Whittier and Soto Street, there is one after another of residents that have given up on their homes. Farther down Whittier comes a brand new shopping plaza, reeking of gentrification, made only for visitors like you, looking to stop somewhere “safe.”

You stumble upon Roosevelt Highschool, and even though it is the middle of the day, the halls are lined with students skipping class. So you drive avoiding eye contact through the city. Past the run down but still in business family restaurant, past Resurrection church, hosting its third quinceanera of the day, slowing down only to stare at the birthday girl’s dress. Past the hundreds of make-shift tents littered with junk and the inhabitants, pleading for money- you give but a penny because god forbid they use it for anything but food.

Farther west, past the supermarkets, laundromats and the Dodger Stadium, there is a different Los Angeles. It is the one dreamt about, with luxury purses and overpriced grocery stores, any of which you can spot a celebrity in. Driving back east there is another Los Angeles, called Skid Row. It separates the privileged and unprivileged of the city and it is an area in which you are there either to make a living in the only way you can, or are there to buy something at the cheapest you can find it.

Turning around again, heading north towards Beverly Boulevard, into the glamorized Los Angeles, there is an artificial feeling in the air. Then it all shows up out of nowhere, the rich, tone-deaf communities of Los Angeles. Driving past, you wonder what one has to do to afford the rooftop dinners and flashy cars, how it must feel to be out shopping on a weekday, preparing for the weekend in which one spends thousands of dollars to prove their relevance. 

It was still a place with culture, a mixture of hard workers and those born into luxury. Open only to locals and horribly exclusive, some with loyalty to the original neighbor loving, community protecting Los Angeles, some there only for Chanel and Chardonnay. 

It was a place always divided, based on the square footage of their house (if they owned one), and what brand of clothing was worn. Everyone grew up being taught to utilize every lock on your car, in your home, and in the office because you never know what a crazy person might try. It was also the place where everyone and their mother believed they could speak for people of color because they are “allies.” Where taxes are only payed by the poor and undocumented, where those same tax payers are the ones who receive the least benefits and privledges. The heart and soul of the city are seen only as job-stealers, cheap vendors, and the dangers of the city.