Archive | City Matters

Massholia Ornithology

Right before I left for Cape Cod, a girl at my local coffee shop said, “I bet everyone is super laid back there.” I couldn’t help laughing. Growing up in Massachusetts and moving to New York City right after school, I first encountered a laidback person when I visited California at the end of my twenties. “Ooooh,” I remember thinking as I struggled valiantly not to interrupt the slow-talkers and slam into the slow-walkers. “This is laid-back.”

The truth is that native Massholes are impatient, skeptical people who loathe airs and whose only form of pretentiousness is an avowed hatred of pretentiousness. Regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or sexuality, almost everyone in this state dresses terribly, drives even worse, and prides themselves on their frugality and inability to suffer fools. I find it all totally endearing, especially because, since nobody shines you on, the friendships you form are life-long and right as rain.

But the people are hardly laidback. Continue Reading →

Blood in His Tracks (Indigo Grownups)

I have come to accept my sadness as holy. I don’t mean to fetishize depression. I don’t even think the great grief I experience is depression because it is situationally appropriate and does not rise up to wall me from my day, duties, you.

But I think of my sadness—this heavy, grave stillness I often carry—as holy because it is true and because, after all these years, I am grateful to feel even when it is very, very hard.

As a young empath my daily prayer was to not stop feeling. I worried that I’d grow as numb as most adults, that I’d stop registering the sorrows and struggles and triumphs of bugs, birds, plants, people–of every soul quietly hurtling on its forceful fateful path. I felt everything so deeply that it made me cry in fast food restaurants and plastic playgrounds paved over meadows, at birthday parties where the parents didn’t seem happy their kids had been born. Oh, Lisa, she’s so sensitive. That’s what they always say, isn’t it, when we can’t block out the miracles and savagery of everyday life.  Continue Reading →

Lemon Cadillacs and ‘L.A. Confidential’

Los Angeles is having quite a moment. Even people with zero interest in the film business are flocking there in droves, and it’s safe to say that the city’s lifestyle – all surfboards, smoothies, tacos, and Instagram irony – is setting the whole country’s tone.

Also back in fashion: sunshine noir, which drags such dark matter as drifters, grifters, and serial killers into the light, usually as filtered by Southern California. Think P.T. Anderson’s “Inherent Vice,” the hit Amazon series “Bosch,” and, of course, the media’s rediscovered obsession with O.J. Simpson. It was only a few years after the former football star’s 1995 trial that writer/director Curtis Hanson adapted James Ellroy’s ultimate sunshine noir novel, L.A. Confidential, arguably the best sunshine noir of its decade. The 1950s-set thriller offered a much-needed historical perspective on the intersection of the LAPD, fame, and race, and was so smartly rendered that it launched the career of Russell Crowe, resuscitated that of Kim Basinger, and put SoCal vintage at the epicenter of fashion – paving the way for non-Tinseltown L.A. to occupy today’s zeitgeist. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy