Our first twelve hours in Los Angeles has already included a trip down memory lane.
It’s not that I ever spent much time here; I only breezed through back in the early ’70s. But rather, this immediate reminiscence is triggered by a deeply insistent behind-the-scenes presence of this fabled city in my g-generation’s memory.
Not personal memory. Collective memory. LA was all over our baby boomer adolescence and young adult misadventures: Hollywood is here, with all its celluloid-manufactured dreams, along with the Dodgers, the surfers, the cop shows on network TV, even the Beverly Hillbillies.
I suppose I’m a 2016 hillbilly, blowing in last nigh from my back-east Blue Ridge mountain home. But I’m here to tell ya this megalopolis has made such an immense impact on my 64-year consciousness, I hardly know how to mention all the influences.
Our son and his bride-to-be fetched us at LAX last night, about eight o’clock. After the tension of negotiating our airport pickup–“negotiating” with all the other hundred passing vehicles and passengers at the curb of the A terminal, and “negotiating” with an irate neon-vested traffic controller about our hazardous rendezvous tactics in the midst of their managed confusion–after that little eye-of-the-needle thing, next thing I know we’re out on the freeway at night in a river of whizzing lights and gleaming glass, metal and speed.
On one heightened stretch of this highly energized raceway I caught a glimpse in the distance of this glistening mega-city into which we were fast propelling. Then out of nowhere a phrase from some old song was jangly in my head:
“but I couldn’t let go of L A, city of the fallen angels”
Not literally true of course. There are plenty of good people here, millions of them. But that phrase is a cleverly cynical play on the name itself: Los Angeles, Spanish for “The angels.”
I knew the phrase was from an old Joni Mitchell song; I could hear the line sung in my head, but didn’t remember which song.
This morning when we woke up, this was the AirBnB view from our window:
After a couple of cups of coffee, and a time-warp discovery in our apartment of an ancient artifact:
This must be what an MP33rpm looks like.
With that old turntable spinning snippets of misspent youth around in my brain, I decided to take a chance on writing this blog, as a vehicle for summoning up whatever memories are zinging around in my mind just now, while sipping coffee in eL A in the morning. Look at this old phonograph; grok its significance in the history of communication technology; cherish its unique position in the collective consciousness stream of my g-generation. You can perhaps imagine within its groovy vinyl-etched peaks and canyons, the adventurous wanderings of our g-generation as we sought far and wide for something we know not what nor where we might find it. Through those pathways of memory you may recall earlier mention, back in the first paragraph, of: reminiscence . . . triggered by a deeply insistent behind-the-scenes presence of this fabled city in my g-generation’s memory.
Joni Mitchell, back in the day, wrote a beautiful, piano-based song, Court and Spark.
Her crooning imagery, describing in this song some encountered street-singing man, captures well the wandering spirit of those times–the obsession with freedom in all things–love, travels, thoughts, romantic interludes that did or did not happen.
And it was in that song, Court and Spark, that the jangly phrase “. . . couldn’t let go of L A, city of the fallen angels” is found, in the very last line.
The flights of flirtatious fancy therein are a prospect that a man or woman could spend a lifetime pursuing.
But I do believe that, while the prospect of such a life of romantic rendezvous seems quite attractive and very compelling, the actual living of it, long term, is probably very problematical, perhaps traumatic, maybe even tragic. Tragic romanticism–I knew it well. For a while. And I associate it with the stuff of our dreams, my g-generation’s dreams that floated from Hollywood and eL A and the city by the bay and all that groovy stuff.
I imagine the lovely genius woman who composed that musical phrase about the city of the fallen angels; she must have lived a life in adventurous pursuit of such exciting moments and passionate encounters, one after another for a whole lifetime.
Me, I did not. I settled down, got a hold of the Christian faith, became a one-woman man. After 36 years of shared adventure, including the present one of visiting Micah and Kyong-Jin in this great city of Los Angeles, Pat and I sit here contentedly this morning with our coffee and our leftovers from last night’s Korean feast for breakfast. And nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina California in the morning.
What a great ride!