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Category Archives: Los Angeles

This week’s city reading: the future of Detroit, a farewell to London, and the failings of transit in the San Francisco Bay Area

Detroit Open City (Aaron Robertson, Los Angeles Review of Books) “The species of loneliness one feels in New York is not the same in Detroit. There is an overwhelming awareness that in a city this large, things should be louder. ‘Detroit is the biggest small town in America,’ I once heard someone say. The slogan rings […]

This week’s city reading: dying alt-weeklies, recanting Richard Florida, and anti-urbanist Margaret Atwood

What Cities Lose When an Alt-Weekly Dies (David Dudley, Citylab) “The thing the Voice and its descendants gave readers was something more important than the occasional scoop: They served as critical conveyors of regional lore and scuttlebutt and intel. Dailies may have told you what was going on; alt-weeklies helped make people locals, a cranky cohort united by common […]

From my interview archive: Los Angeles graphic designer and dingbat appreciator Clive Piercy (RIP)

This year, I’m listening again to selections from the archive of long-form interviews I conducted on the public radio program The Marketplace of Ideas and podcast Notebook on Cities and Culture between 2007 and 2015. I started Notebook on Cities and Culture in large part as a way of understanding one city in particular: Los Angeles, to which I’d just moved a […]

This week’s city reading: how Angelenos evolve, what “ghost signs” reveal, and the weakness of “best cities” lists

Why the ‘best cities to live in’ list rewards the safe and the clean (Gavin Haynes, The Guardian) “The Economist’s clientele are exactly the people David Goodhart characterised as the ‘Anywheres’ in The Road To Somewhere, his take on the populist revolt that gave us Brexit, Trump and global politics’ present weirdness. Unlike the more geographically immobile […]

This week’s city reading: This Year’s Best Design Cities, When Airbnb Overtakes Your Building, the Lonely Los Angeles of “Heat”

The World’s Best Design Cities 2017 (Metropolis) “The crowds coursing down Via Tortona or gathering outside Bar Basso for one week in April are no more than a memory when the city is deserted in August. For years, it was also a city of extreme traditionalism: The Salone del Mobile’s gravitational pull on innovative international designers seemed […]

This week’s city reading: Detroit stays flawed, Mexico City kills parking minimums, corporations flee the suburbs

The new Detroit’s fatal flaw (Heather Ann Thompson, Washington Post) “Way back in July of 1967, just before that infamous evening when Detroit went up in flames, city boosters had been feeling pretty optimistic about the Motor City’s future. Detroit, then the nation’s fifth-largest city, was a metropolis that epitomized all that postwar America had to offer. Home to […]

Los Angeles in Buildings #7: the Central Library

Stand outside any entrance of Los Angeles’ Central Library, look up, and you see only tall buildings, all of them clearly dating from the mid-20th century and later. 611 Place, Aon Center, the twin towers of City National Plaza, and the Citigroup Center all bear the marks of the late 1960s and ‘70s; in the […]

This week’s city reading: New York’s housing crisis, Philip Roth’s Newark, the alt-right on architecture

Tenants Under Siege: Inside New York City’s Housing Crisis (Michael Greenberg, New York Review of Books) “At the town hall meeting, the mayor, trying to explain why he hasn’t set aside more units for those near the poverty line, said, ‘There are swamps of people who make less than $40,000 a year. People who make $50,000 […]

This week’s city reading: coffee shop as gentrification battlefield, knocked-down Seoul neighborhoods, and Los Angeles’ newest skyscraper

Now I Am Become Mall, Destroyer of Cities (Silvia Killingsworth, The Awl) “The mall of the future is an amusement park of a food hall, where we can easily and deliciously follow the quickest path to setting our money on fire—converting money into immediate kilocalories consumed on the spot. It’s no accident we call it […]

From my interview archive: four Los Angeles public radio stars

This year, I’m listening again to selections from the archive of long-form interviews I conducted on the public radio program The Marketplace of Ideas and podcast Notebook on Cities and Culture between 2007 and 2015. “So when is KCRW or KPCC going to give you your own show?” a Los Angeles-based New Yorker writer once asked me just after we’d finished […]