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Youth / OPINION : L.A. From Afar: 'A Land of Excitement and Confusion' : CRAIG GARTNER / Senior, 17, North Atlanta High School, Atlanta

March 22, 1993|Compiled for The Times by Erik Hamilton

T hree million people in the City of Angels, according to the last census. Easily half of them up to something they don't want the other half to know. We all get sucked in by the lobby. Palm trees finger the sky and there's enough sunshine to lay some off on Pittsburgh. But that's all on top.

The quote, taken from the Broadway musical "City of Angels," could sum up my first impression of Los Angeles, although I don't know if I would use those exact words. I have been to L.A. twice, and must admit I fell in love with it the first time I saw the infamous city. Being an actor, I love big cities like New York and Los Angeles. However, I've been told by inhabitants that they are great places to visit, not great places to live. Nevertheless, no one can ignore the bright lights and scandal of Hollywood, the magic of Disneyland and Universal Studios and the sight of the Walk of Fame and Sunset Boulevard.

I will never forget driving to L.A. from my father's and stepmother's house in San Diego. The whole way, they complained about the traffic and smog, but the minute I caught a glimpse of the Hollywood sign I tuned their voices out.

There is, however, something behind the bright lights--individuality, excitement, fame and the weather of Los Angeles. How can the country ever forget the tapes of Rodney King beating, trial and race riots? How can the country ignore the numerous drug problems in Los Angeles we keep hearing about?

Not to put Los Angeles down--we all know that the riots in Atlanta were comparable to those on the West Coast, and Atlanta also ranks in the top five cities with the highest crime rate. Excluding these facts, Atlanta is an amazing city, as is L.A. The point is that no place is perfect, and a city that has so much to offer, like Los Angeles, should be praised, not criticized.

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