I’m not sure you can call this week’s Lives essay by Rachel Cline in the back of The New York Times magazine brilliant. Critiques of Los Angeles always seem hackneyed and trite to those who never lived there. Cline, however, captures the gothic feel of Los Angeles, how time slips away and one month becomes ten years overnight, leaving you with nothing but a few fragmented memories:
I lived in Los Angeles for almost 10 years, but it all runs together. I can never remember what happened when. In memory, I’m always driving down a sunny stretch of road, listening to National Public Radio, trying not to spill my latte. Sometimes I have a splitting headache, which must mean I am on the east side or in the valley, and sometimes the ocean is glittering nearby. Occasionally I can remember the jacarandas being in bloom, which means, what? May? But that still doesn’t tell me the year. It’s just an odd lot of incidents, a memory salad.
I was in Los Angeles last month. One afternoon, I decided to drive to a favorite shop in Pico-Robertson. I parked my car on a side street, in front of a 1930s Spanish four-plex with an “Apartment For Rent” sign in front.