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L.A. Values Privacy

February 21, 1993

It may be that Melanie Rome's distaste for Los Angeles ("A Hostage of L.A.," Letters to the Editor, Times Valley Edition, Feb. 3) is occasioned not so much by the city itself as by her fears and unrealistic expectations.

No, Los Angeles does not have many "neighborhoods" as she remembers them from the East. Here, people move too often. More important, here privacy and individuality are more important than borrowing a cup of sugar.

Thus, Los Angeles doesn't suffer from the "neighborliness" of Eastern cities, a euphemism for an inordinate interest in, and compulsion, to pry into and gossip about one's concerns and affairs, particularly the latter.

Instead, Angelenos enjoy two benefits that more than compensate: live and let live, and a vast communal spirit that rises upon the need to "Rebuild L.A."

Having lived 22 years in a Chicago suburb, four years in the military, one year in Syracuse, one in Ft. Lauderdale, and now 37 in greater Los Angeles, I have come to appreciate the real value of privacy that my neighbors and fellow Angelenos extend to me.

Yes, we have to drive a few miles to see friends. This is our choice, not a necessity forced on us by neighbors who want to see our new kitchen, who ask how we can afford the new Honda, who are curious about "Whatever happened to your son? Didn't he move to San Francisco? I've heard about the men in that town."

As for community spirit, do Back Bay residents concern themselves with the miseries of South Boston? How many prominent Mainliners work actively in South Philly? How often does an Evanston citizen go to Cicero to help?

Los Angeles is what you make it. Eastern "neighborhoods" often make you, form you into a hesitant, even timid conformist.

I'll stay here.

TOM CLAYTON

Santa Clarita

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