Skip to content

Category Archives: Los Angeles

So What Is this Los Angeles Book I’m Writing?

You may have noticed it in various bio blurbs that have appeared over the past few years, but my ongoing projects include a book about Los Angeles. It began as a yearlong series of essays I wrote for the southern California public television station KCET in 2013 and 2014, though revision after revision — guided in […]

Where Is the City of the Future?: Where Geography Loses All Conventional Meaning

Both Los Angeles’ parking lots and its surprising presence and surprising absence of rapid transit suggest a distinctive relationship with physical space. So does the tendency of people who grew up hometowns not especially close to the city itself to describe themselves as “from Los Angeles.” Suburbanites do this everywhere, of course, ostensibly out of […]

Read the Issue of Boom: a Journal of California I Guest-Edited Free Online

Boom: A Journal of California has completed the online roll-out of “Re-coding California,” their spring 2016 on architecture, planning, and the built environment that I guest-edited (and which contains my essay “Our Car Culture Is Not a Problem; Our House Culture Is”). You can read it all at the issue’s page on Boom‘s site, or you can […]

Boom: Our Car Culture Is Not a Problem; Our House Culture Is

Like so many fascinated by Los Angeles, I grew up worshiping the Case Study houses. With their crisp edges, clean lines, muted colors, and vast planes of glass, they struck me as the perfect objects of aesthetic desire, especially when seen through the loving, era-defining eye of architectural photographer Julius Shulman. I think of the […]

Guardian Cities: Los Angeles and the ‘Great American Streetcar Scandal’

The last train on the last line of greater Los Angeles’ Pacific Electric streetcar network made its last run on 9 April 1961. You can see the final days of this once-robust public transport system for yourself in the short film Ride the Last of the Big Red Cars. This footage of the remaining “red […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: the Bonaventure Hotel

What building most clearly signifies Los Angeles? In a built environment with few easily legible architectural icons, the Bonaventure Hotel has come to stand for the city as no other building does. Since opening in 1976, John C. Portman Jr.’s quintet of reflective cylindrical towers atop a stark concrete base has played in urban Los […]

Diary: A Tourist in Los Angeles

“So you really feel like you’re ready to leave Los Angeles?” asked a friend whom I told about my upcoming move to Korea. Because I said I didn’t consider it “leaving,” I then had to trot out the same vague plan that’s seen so much trotting out in recent months: the ultimate idea involves going back […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Miracle Mile (Steve de Jarnatt, 1988)

Again and again, the movies have visited the apocalypse on Los Angeles. Miracle Mile did it at the end of the Cold War, with both a city and an apocalypse perfectly suited to the zeitgeist of the era: mutually assured nuclear destruction. But despite the global stakes, the story stays local, focusing on not just […]

일기: 스텀프타운과 데미따스

샌프란시스코에서 온 블루 버틀 커피는 메트로 역에서 많이 먼데 포틀랜드에서 온 스텀프타운 커피 로스터는 더 멀다. 그래도 나한테는 걸어 갈 만하다. 이유는 몇 개 있다. 처음 갔을 때는 마셔 보고 싶은 게 있었다. 나는 포틀랜드에 여행갈 때마다 꼭 스텀프타운에 커피를 마시러 갔기 때문에 스텀프타운의 맛에 익숙했다. 그런데 스텀프타운은 로스앤젤레스의 아트 디스트릭트에 지점을 연 후에 새로운 […]

Diary: Blue Bottle Coffee

For a couple years now, I’ve met my Korean speaking partner Mi-young once a week at a coffee shop. During the first few months we always met at the Tom N Toms just up the street from me, but you can only hear their corporate-issue music loop so many times before it becomes a problem. Besides, life’s too […]