David Rieff looks at a city that was long the epitome of the American Dream and is now, for many, the emblem of the American urban nightmare.
Writing before the riots of 1992, Rieff found not a city of dreams but a city of bitter contradictions. A city that, like the United States itself, was being transformed by immigrants and refugees from Latin America and East Asia from an extension of Europe to a diverse patchwork of the peoples of the world. This is an L.A. that has never been described before. With a new afterword.
Angelenos speak in catchphrases and take pride in the length of their commute. Los Angeles is a city where ``people and their things are hard to tell apart,'' where mobile pleasure-seekers find the prospect of raising kids ``just a little bit of a drag.'' While its middle class gets ``sucked into . . . upscale consumption,'' its masses of largely poor Asian and Hispanic immigrants, many of them illegal, are not being assimilated, according to Rieff ( Going to Miami ). Drive-by shootings are nightly occurrences in black slums, and thousands of homeless ply the beaches of Venice and Santa Monica. A devastating, wonderful, witty send-up of L.A.--and CA--as crucibles of the 21st century, this disquieting report delineates a city with an ethos of unchecked growth, sprawl and possibility that ``decontextualizes'' its residents from reality. First serial to Los Angeles Times; author tour.