Los Angeles

I grew up in Chicago and I always loved Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago” (HOG Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat… City of the Big Shoulders”).  Yet I now live in LA where our anthems are perhaps Jim Morrison’s “LA Woman” (I see your hair is burning…”) and Randy Newman (“I Love LA…”).

Having been around the Hammer Museum lately and seeing a great crowd show up for discussions on Jung and depth psychology and the collective I, who is not a joiner by any stretch of the imagination, felt deeply heartened, encouraged and delighted with my city of the last twenty-two years.  A friend recently emailed me to say “I’m in your hometown this week,” to which I replied that we should have lunch, to which he corrected that he meant the City of Big Shoulders.  I suddenly realized that LA has truly become “home” at least for now, at least for my body.

And so now that I have come to have deep affection and growing respect for LA, the spirits taunt that I should overlay Sandburg’s frame on my fair city of Lost Angels.  And since at my blog I get to write as I please, making sense and nonsense in equal measure, I tip my hat to both Chicago and LA (and if it helps anyone, our collective kids, great, but if not, at least I seek to model that it serves to honor the strange voices that come out of left field—Namaste):

LOS ANGELES

DREAM Killer for the World,

Myth Recycler, Maker of Money,

Player with Psyche and the Zeitgeist’s Dream Handler;

Sunny, gated, speeding,

City of the Big Implants:

They tell me you are corrupt and I know it, for I

have seen your waxed women by iPhone glow

luring the boy toys.

And they tell me you are vapid and I answer:  Yes, it

is true I have seen cops beat motorists and go free to

plant evidence.

And they tell me you are narcissistic and my reply is:  On the

faces of agents and producers I have seen the tans

of abject entitlement.

And having conceded the point I turn once more to those who

smile fakely at this my city, and I give them back that smile

and say to them:

I call you out to show me another city with lifted face lip-synching

so smug to be expensive and tumescent and wet and multilingual.

Casting unsound nets over the pathos of compacting dream on

dream, here is a grey cat back-lit against smog obscuring the

authentic little towns;

Painful as a pit-bull with jaws locked on your shitzu, brilliant

As a trust-fund kid peeling out of private school,

Topless,

Pandering,

De-toxing,

Oming,

Pitching, selling, turning around,

Hills aflame, lipstick all over her mouth, howling through

whitened teeth,

So over the ennui soufflé of been there done that tantruming

as a toddler measures,

Measures even as a real-estate broker measures who has

never owned a home,

Small talking and measuring each Day of the Locust,

And under her mattress the cash of the real dream,

Measuring!

Measuring the sunny, gated, speeding measuring of

Talent, eviscerated, dying, resigned to be Dream

Killer, Myth Recycler, Maker of Money, Player with

Psyche and Dream Handler to the Zeitgeist.

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4 Responses to “Los Angeles”

  1. Jennifer Gruskoff Says:

    I am from here – went east for many years during my formative years and the returned. My mother is also a Hollywood High drop out and I was raised in the thc soaked world of the 70’s glitz and glamour, parenting all about far flung concepts that went unmanaged and yet I survivied. And chose to raise my kids here, in the canyon next door to where I lived as a girl, where at the bottom, in the flats, I’d see Jack Benny and Milton Berl buy the NY Times from a newstand that’s now a Coffee Bean.

    I came back because the made up identity of this city allows for a freedom impossible to find anywhere else. It is the best and worst place to raise a kid – you clearly understand the from the poem you wrote – but if you know that, you can reinvent the idea of how you parent and come from a truth you did not know existed about yourself. I am grateful for that.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Makes me think also of listening, over and over, to Steely Dan as a teen in Chicago… and later actually driving down Sunset to the sea.

      I love what you and the way you say it… something about LA helps bring that out in a writer; “that’s me in that pool…”

  2. BigLittleWolf Says:

    I love that you are honoring not only Los Angeles but the last official day of Poetry Month in this manner. (And how sad that we must have an “official” poetry month?)

    One other note – apologies for being around your neighborhood less; I am living a muck and mire of technology messes, and not yet out from under.

    Namaste (indeed).

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      Happy last day of poetry month—but we can blur the boundaries and have poetry whenever we want. As for apologies, never needed—if nothing else this must be a guilt free and trusting of good intentions zone. I drop by your place, you drop by mine, we run into each other were our favorites intersect. I like that about this world.

      As the sun sinks on poetry day… “let us go now, you and I…” (and anyone who wants to come along) “with evening spread out against the sky like a patient etherized upon a table…”

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