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The State Of Kate

September 22, 1996

Before I knew it, Kate Braverman's "A Childhood Tale From the City of Second Chances" (Aug. 18) had stripped away 30 years. Her words and memories seemed to be mine--until I read further.

Unlike Braverman, I was not part of the indigenous population but a child of the new second-chancers, the teenage son of a father who suffered a heart attack at 39, a business failure at 40 and death less than a year later, his belief in L.A. as a paradise still intact.

His dreams were passed on to his son, who now could join the children of doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs at one of the city's finest high schools; who was taught the skill of surfing by kids who'd learned on family trips to Hawaii; who met culture in the back row of the Hollywood Bowl.

Los Angeles in the '60s may have seemed a city in decline to some, but a kid could work here in a shoe store all summer and earn enough to pay for a year at Cal State. Here, if you worked hard, a few dreams might come true.

Some got less than they had hoped for; some got more. All got a shot. And Los Angeles is still that way, because the six languages that scar our buildings with graffiti are the same six languages that are spoken every day in the schoolyards and the shoe stores--and in the fading faux-tropical apartment houses that the children of today's second-chancers call home. And where you find these dreamers--not in the big film studios--you'll find the real dream factories of Los Angeles.

Steve Garber


Preaching from her apple orchard pulpit in Upstate New York, Braverman manages to remember only negative images of "the flagship city in crisis." You'd think she'd have more respect for Los Angeles after having parlayed several novels, short stories and poems into a great teaching job at UCLA and having cultivated a literary audience in what she considers this festering place.

Those of us who do find beauty and richness here are convinced that this city is just beginning to come into its own, perhaps moving beyond the "virtual" state Braverman describes. A native Angeleno, I've lived in many cities of the world and have yet to find any of them as interesting and diverse as Los Angeles.

Go pick some apples and let me know how they taste, Eve. Teri Neville

Los Angeles


In a way, I'm Braverman's opposite; I grew up in New York State and now live here. To me the L.A. area is a place of almost endless summer. For those of us who like to run, walk, play, work or dream, Los Angeles is paradise. The selection of beaches is unparalleled. Flowers bloom year-round. You can walk outdoors on winter evenings without freezing. And fascinating people come here from all parts of the world to visit and to live. If it takes the apple orchard to make Braverman happy, can't she simply enjoy it without blaming her personal darkness on Los Angeles? Kelly G. Emling

Long Beach


Poor Braverman can't seem to win. She previously blamed Los Angeles for her two bathrooms and excess of affluence that, she has said, kept her from developing a meaningful relationship with her daughter. Now she has our city taking the rap for not fulfilling people's dreams. But there's no way she can speak for an entire populace. One of us is a native, the other a 30-year resident, and we say that Braverman's reality is not ours at all. Contrary to what she thinks, many of us live here happily by choice. Doesn't Upstate New York offer her any material for her literary talents?

Lee Gardenswartz

Anita Rowe

Los Angeles


I'm an average Angeleno: a second-generation Californian, half Mexican American and half Anglo, married to a fourth-generation Asian American. I'm a Democrat and a Protestant from an intact and loving family of eight that traveled all over the continental United States together. And all of us have married either interracially or interculturally. All that considered, there is nowhere on earth we could live as comfortably as in Los Angeles--except perhaps Hawaii, which does not offer the same economic advantages. Perhaps Braverman's experience is with a number of petulant Angelenos, but many of us who call Los Angeles our hometown have been in a good mood for years. Linda Cota-Kumagai



In 1960, people didn't come to Los Angeles because of their asthma or to recover from their heart attacks. Our smog was already too well known for that. Jean Redfern

La Mirada

I see that the ex-Angeleno sulk continues.

The way Braverman views it, it's "jacaranda petals fallen on cement, curled like so many purple ears, slowly fermenting." I'd say "streets painted like Monet's waterlilies, with erect paintbrushes of lavender jacaranda and a palette of violet petals below." She gets two "B.A.s": a Brilliant Author with a Bad Attitude. Now what will she say about her apple-orchard town when she leaves it behind?

Harron Kelner



I can understand why Braverman, smug in her rural retreat, wants to vent her hatred of Los Angeles. What I don't quite understand is why you'd want to print it. Roxane Winkler

Sherman Oaks

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