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No One Los Angeles A survey from cities by the sea

Los Angeles is hazy but not from smog. It’s just a hazy concept.

Here’s a city, and a coast, and past romance, and the unknowableness of beige-gray sprawl forever and ever, and what does it add up to now? What’s in it for us?

Our generation, we don’t celebrate LA. It’s overlooked or maybe just over. We see the old pictures and let it stand as a lost paradise for our grandparents. Somewhere beneath its freeways and the last half-century is a place we’re told was the California dream once, but now LA feels like a scar on California’s face. Traffic and asphalt and a people who define the all wrong.

For surf it’s not a destination anymore, just a corridor on the way to someplace better. The best surf spot is LAX. Real residents, it’s assumed they have great day jobs or love the scene or else they’d move quick. The now surf zones are south in San Clemente, and north in Ventura, and even the idiosyncrasies of this New York moment feel more fresh and interesting than ill, bloated Los Angeles.

Of course most of what I just said is wrong. It has to be. Nothing as vast as LA could be strung up like that. Los Angeles isn’t one place; it’s 1,000. It isn’t one stereotype; it’s everything in the world. Just within surfing there’s so much to it, culturally and geographically, that you’d never get your mind around LA without living there a very long time. It’s like “music.” It’s like “art.” What do those mean?

What don’t they?

Somewhere in Los Angeles — and there may be no one Los Angeles anymore, but in its pieces — is something for us, that’s happening now, and we went to look for it.

Excerpt reprinted from the feature “No One Los Angeles” from What Youth magazine Issue Two, now available in the What Youth shop.


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