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Sex, Death and God in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles is the labyrinth at the end of the American Dream, a city often celebrated, often condemned--rarely understood. In this fascinating and unusual collection David Reid has gathered together the novelists, journalists, and cultural critics who could best debunk the myths, define the truths, and decipher the strange iconography of this "bronzed paradise" of fourteen million inhabitants. Here are reports and reflections on: the new Latin-American and Asian populations of South Central and the East Side and...
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Sex, Death and God in L.A.

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Overview

Los Angeles is the labyrinth at the end of the American Dream, a city often celebrated, often condemned--rarely understood. In this fascinating and unusual collection David Reid has gathered together the novelists, journalists, and cultural critics who could best debunk the myths, define the truths, and decipher the strange iconography of this "bronzed paradise" of fourteen million inhabitants. Here are reports and reflections on: the new Latin-American and Asian populations of South Central and the East Side and the old establishment in the West Side's hidden hilltop enclaves; Downtown with its heavily mortgaged office towers held by Canadian and Japanese landlords; the shuttered factories, thriving sweatshops, and gerrymandered "rotten boroughs" of post-industrial L.A.; architecture from Irving Gill to Frank O. Gehry; avatars and messiahs from Krishnamurti to L. Ron Hubbard; rituals of power and abjection in Movieland; and yoga and lust in Beverly Hills. Los Angeles Times and Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn; Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz; L.A. Weekly writers Lynell George and Ruben Martinez; novelists Carolyn See, Eve Babitz, and David Thomson; architectural historian Thomas S. Hines; and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Jeremy Larner are among those who investigate the mysteries of the city which, as Cockburn writes, is "the only megalopolis of the First World growing at a rate comparable to those supercities--Sao Paulo, Cairo, and Canton--of the Third World."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Often as amorphous and sprawling as Los Angeles itself, these 11 essays, some of which have been previously published, blend reportage, politics, memoir and fantasy to gauge the temperature of the megalopolis, cool incubator of fashions, follies and the future. With the comparative advantages of Southern California fast disappearing, Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn predicts a long twilight for L.A. as a result of job flight and the aerospace industry's decline. New Left Review 's Mike Davis exposes the industrial peonage of Southeast L.A. and ponders the internationalization of downtown as corporate raiders, Japanese megadevelopers and trans-national bankers restructure the economy. On the personal side, novelist Carolyn See scrutinizes the love marketplace in interracial L.A. in the context of her own failed marriages to a part-Chinese man and ``a Slovak.'' Fiction writer Eve Babitz muses on lust, yoga and the scarcity of sex in a city where even asceticism is eroticized. Screenwriter Jeremy Larner lays down the rules of life in movieland: ``To be disturbed by anything is to be a loser.'' Reid is the author of West of the West. (Feb.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394573212
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/31/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 352

Table of Contents

Note and Acknowledgments
Introduction
Power
On the Rim of the Pacific Century 3
Chinatown, Revisited? The "Internationalization" of Downtown Los Angeles 19
The Empty Quarter 54
Sex
Melting 75
Bodies and Souls 108
Death
City of Specters 153
God
The Possessed 175
La Placita 225
Visibilia
Machines in the Garden: Notes Toward a History of Modern Los Angeles Architecture, 1900-1990 259
Movies
Uneasy Street 321
Rack's Rules: The Mechanics of Morals in Movieland 334
Contributors 355
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