JONATHAN CHAIT JUNE 7, 2010
Greg Veis on the traditional side of L.A.:
No one who loves his hometown should ever feel the need to explain that it is in fact not a place where souls go to die—but I do, incessantly. It’s a reflex now, developed over a decade of having lived on the east coast, of having a simple statement—“I grew up in LA”—regularly followed by a grimace, or, at best, a sympathetic pursing of the lips. Most New Yorkers and Washingtonians, you see, don’t have a whole lot of respect for Los Angeles. They consider it to be the world capital of plastic, on an uninterrupted streak of fakery that stretches from the Chinatown days through the porny ’70s and into our very own benighted era of the celebrity crotch-shot. And, of course, it’s not an insane way of looking at the place. LA’s not exactly tweedy.
But my argument back has always been that the day-to-day influence of “the industry” on most Angelenos is vastly overrated, and that the city’s more traditional side gets short shrift. That it’s not a silicon wonderland, but a pretty damn good place to raise a kid. And reflecting back on LA now, in the days immediately following the death of John Wooden, UCLA’s legendary basketball coach, I think this family-friendly vision has an awful lot to do with what the city’s sports culture was like when I was growing up in the ’80s and early ’90s.