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Quakes, smog, riots, traffic, carjackings, the recession, troubled schools, beautiful--but shallow--people . . . These days, everybody loves to bash our city. So we asked a few Angelenos (the famous and the not): If things are so bad . . . : Why Stay in L.A.?

April 04, 1993|Rip Rense | Rip Rense is a regular contributor to View.

It is probable that Los Angeles is a more compelling and interesting place for those who are new to it. For those who have had the strange luck to live here since birth, perhaps the city's cherishable attributes inevitably become esoteric.

This is probably true for me. My days of being thrilled by the climate, the beaches and zooming down the freeways are as extinct as, well, the days of zooming down the freeways. But assorted things admittedly do have a hold on me.

A few, at random:

I like eating lunch at Philippe's, Home of the French-Dipped Sandwich. I especially like the cheesecake there. I like long holiday weekends, when the city seems to drop about 25% of its population and feel somewhat like it used to feel. (Curiously, it seems that the 25% that leaves town is composed of the people I find the most irritating.)

I like standing in Palisades Park in Santa Monica pretty much any time of day, any time of year. I like driving around town to places where I used to live and staring at them in the hope that I might discover I am still there.

I like living in a place where W.C. Fields lived--and Claudette Colbert and Bela Lugosi. For that matter, I like living in a city where almost every accomplished human of this century either lived, visited or wanted to live or visit. I like mentioning to out-of-towners that the L.A. Riverbed is where James Whitmore and James Arness went to fight the giant ants in "Them."

I like the fact that I once stood on the steps of City Hall and watched the Chambers Brothers sing "Time Has Come Today" at an L.A. Street Scene Festival in the late '70s. I like the fact that Superman used to fly right out of City Hall and over downtown in the old "Superman" TV series. I like the implicit symbolism of the fact that Patrick McGoohan, star of "The Prisoner" series, lives here.

I like Dutton's Books in Brentwood and that one of the people who waits on you is a witty poet named Scott Wannberg. I like the statue of Beethoven in Pershing Square (is it still there?).

I like listening to Chick Hearn. I like eating those little batter cakes with the red beans inside in Little Tokyo. I like the fact that I can still hear one of the old KFAC voices--Tom Dixon's--on KKGO. I like the coral trees on San Vicente Boulevard and the Elysian oak grove inside the L.A. County Arboretum.

I like walking through the Manchester Boddy house in Descanso Gardens and imagining what it must have been like to live there in the '40s and '50s. I like having a drink at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at intermission of an L.A. Philharmonic concert, preferably before music that is massive and full of intelligence.

I like standing on the Marina del Rey jetty at 2 or 3 a.m., listening to cormorants laugh like the ghosts of old men. I like the fact that the first house I ever lived in was approximately where Dodger Stadium is now. I like having a piece of apple pie and a cup of coffee at the Apple Pan.

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