Saturday, July 13, 2013

Los Angeles: The Chemically Pure by Willard Huntington Wright, Smart Set Magazine, 1913

WHAT of Los Angeles—America's one unpronounceable city? Her resources, her bank clearings, her Brobdingnagian fruits, her mellow temperature, the amount of her shipments, the unprecedented growth in her population—these things are familiar to the Easterner and the Westerner alike. Her fame has spread as has that of few other cities. The glories of  her climate and her flora have been emblazoned across the skies in every corner of the United States. But leaving these facts to the statisticians, let us consider her character. What trait does she exhibit to the stranger? What temperament does she impose upon the tourist?

The Easterner who has never been to California, and who has come to look upon Los Angeles as the wonder city of America as regards growth and opportunity, will be startled to learn that she is the one city of her size in the United States, and perhaps in the world, whose personality is that of the rural pietist, of the rigid and uncompromising Puritan. She is obsessed with the spirit of crude democracy, of class abolition, of village fellowship, of suburban respectability. The amusements she offers to the outsider are the simple amusements of a bucolic existence. Her pleasure resorts are as unexciting as a church bazaar. Recreation adapted to cosmopolitan taste, aside from theatergoing, is rare. And if, after the theater the unregenerate tourist goes to a cafe for supper and lingers over the coffee, the waiters, more than likely, will have begun to pile the chairs on the tables at the further end of the room in preparation for the early morning moppers. At almost every point where the innocent stranger attempts to live his normal life of pleasure seeking, he will find himself thwarted by some ordinance, the primary object of which is to force Middle West moralities upon all inhabitants. Puritanism is the inflexible doctrine in Los Angeles.

Time was when a less pallid, a less senile regime held sway. Los Angeles has not always epitomized municipal prudery. In the past she wore vine leaves in her hair. She lured the newcomer with the sorceries of gaiety; she offered racy and satisfying entertainment for the traveling Don Juans. She was blithesomely indecent, imaginative, colorful. But not in the vulgar manner of the Barbary Coast of the old sultry days and nights. She was never blatant and crass, never aggressive and criminal. She wore her strumpet garbs with grace and delicacy. Her debaucheries were rarely without the perfume of romance. Her private dining rooms were not baroque and garish. Her lecheries never obtruded their naming angles through the drab fabric of her pewholders' lives. Perhaps no city has had so well regulated a demi-monde, so inoffensive and decent a cocktail route as Los Angeles of the old days. She proffered all her indecencies with a grace, a quiet, a naive mien, with an attitude almost Latin in its frankness.

The languorous atmosphere of her restricted district was no doubt due to the Spanish influence of an elder day. Her bagnio houses clustered round the old adobes of Sonoratown within a stone's throw of the Church of Our Lady of the Angels. Here the sandaled padres in their long embroidered vestments chanted their vespers, while from across the Plaza, in profane competition, drifted the wheedling laughter of fragile senoritas. Los Angeles was never famous for her debaucheries, her vice, her midnight atrocities, as were many other cities of her class. And yet her menu was complete. Her filles de joie were dreams of pulchritude, loreleis, houris. Her cocktails were mixed with ineffable technique. Her wines were young but pure. Her cabbies were discreet and content with an honest living. Her police, too, were sagacious and comparatively honest. There were gay resorts at the beaches, seventeen miles distant. She had an excellent race-course, and friendly games of roulette. She maintained resorts to meet every pocketbook.

An honest city, a fascinating and sensible city, was Los Angeles then. But no more! Where, indeed, is the notorious Pearl Morton, with her ferocious bull pup, and the phthisical Violet? The Stone Front and the Antlers' Club are gone. A skyscraper stands on the spot where the jeunesse dor'ee used to dine on the veranda of the old Belmont Cafe. The most famous restaurants have lost their licenses; and two of the oldest cafes have recently built imposing structures which exude a newer and less romantic culture. New High Street is a row of cheap rooming houses, and east of Alameda are small manufacturing plants. Sonoratown is but a memory. Hypocrisy, like a vast fungus, has spread over the city's surface. Gone are the Eleusinian festivities. Silent is the click of ivory chips, and deserted is Ascot Park. Her one carnival—La Fiesta—with its fancy costumes, its gay pageantry, its confetti throwing, died of inanition a decade ago. The lights of the north side are dark; and as the late carriages drive by, the curtains are never drawn. The Phrynes and Aspasias no longer ply their ancient trade. During the early morning hours no frou-frou of silk disturbs the sepulchral silence of the streets. You will look in vain for the flashing eye, the painted cheek, the silken ankle. No yellow-haired Laises haunt the dark doorways of the downtown thoroughfares. The city's lights go out at twelve, and so does the drummer's hope. The taxicab banditti disappear. At 12:15 the streets are almost deserted.

Obviously not a city for nocturnal sybarites, for those hardy immoralists who see no harm in Pilsener after midnight. The current belief in Los Angeles is that there is something inherently and inalienably indecent (or at least indelicate) in that segment of the day between 12 pm and 5 am. Therefore these five hours constitute a gloomy hiatus, a funereal void, a sad and intolerable interregnum. And there is a good old medieval superstition afloat in Los Angeles that all those things which charm by their grace and beauty are wiles of the devil, and that only those things are decent which are depressing. Hence, the recent illumination and guarding of all public parks lest spooning, that lewd pastime, become prevalent. Hence, the Quakerish regulation of public dance halls. Hence, the stupid censorship of the theaters by professional moralists, a censorship so incredibly puerile that even Boston—good old Boston, which closed up "The Easiest Way"—will have to take second place. Hence, the silly legal pottering about the proper length of bathing suits at the beaches, the special election to decide whether or not one should be permitted to eat in saloons, and the fiery discussion as to the morality of displaying moving pictures of boxing matches.

Los Angeles is overrun with militant moralists, connoisseurs of sin, experts of biological purity. But let it be said that these chlorotic fellows put up a very good performance. As comedians they are deserving of very respectful consideration. And inasmuch as they are egged on by an exquisitely virtuous press, their grandiloquent sport of moral uplift, with its hot yearning to flay the sinner, goes triumphantly on. The traveling salesman and the joy-hunting tourist, however, too licentious to appreciate the lofty idealism symbolized by the bolted door and the extinguished light, make haste with their business and hie northward to a more lenient and gayer city.

To what is due this frenzy for virtue, this psychic debauch of prudery, this mad wallowing in the excelsior of Puritanism? Is it that the citizens of Los Angeles are nobler than the citizens of any other city of its size in the United States? Not at all. The explanation is a twofold one, and has its roots in the manner and character of growth of the city. In the first place, the inhabitants of Los Angeles are culled largely from the smaller cities of the Middle West— "leading citizens" from Wichita; honorary pallbearers from Emmetsburg; Good Templars from Sedalia; honest spinsters from Grundy Center—all commonplace people, many of them with small competencies made from the sale of farm lands or from the lifelong savings of small mercantile businesses. These good folks brought with them a complete stock of rural beliefs, pieties, superstitions and habits—the Middle West bed hours, the Middle West love of corned beef, church bells, Munsey's Magazine, union suits and missionary societies. They brought also a complacent and intransigent aversion to late dinners, malt liquor, grand opera and hussies. They are a sober and phlegmatic people, with a passion for marching in parades and wearing badges. They are victims of the sonorous platitude; at concerts they applaud the high notes, and they vote for their pastor's choice of candidate.

These yokels are motivated primarily by the village spirit. The Sunday school idea is no small factor in their political and sociological decisions. Having, by virtue of numbers, a large voice in municipal affairs, they govern Los Angeles as they would a village. The spirit of cosmopolitanism has not yet ravished their minds or inflamed their blood. Their bourgeois prejudices are the outposts of their toleration. They have a righteous abhorrence of shapely legs, and proceed to close the theaters, that no one else may bask in the charm of feminine parabolas. All who do not hold their beliefs are sinners. They would prohibit indulgence in those things which they hold to be impure. Their idea of government is a paternal one. They, the moral fathers, would chasten the recalcitrant children who look upon Sunday as a day of recreation, and who see no harm in cigarette smoking and an occasional bottle of wine. They are enraptured with the benign theory that morality is a matter of legal enactment. Los Angeles is colored with Iowan, Missourian and Kansan ideals.

Another reason for the hyper-morality of Los Angeles lies in the rapidity of its growth. The evolution from a town to a city is not merely one of numbers. Far from it, indeed. It is a growth of temperament as well, an educational and mental development. This takes time; the process is a slow and tedious one. It requires a change in point of view; and this is a matter of gradual metamorphosis. The very organisms of one's nature must be altered. The rustic attitude, strengthened by the teachings of generations, must be changed. There has not been sufficient time in the growth of Los Angeles to produce this change. In point of population she is a city (she numbers nearly half a million), but temperamentally she is an overgrown village. She has not yet been able to overcome her rustic narrow-mindedness. There still remain memories of the milk can, the new-mown hay, the Chautauqua lecturers, the plush albums, the hamlet devotions and the weekly baths. And so the petty reforms and sentimental corrective agitations, such as constitute the daily life of a small town, are to be found in Los Angeles, blooming magnificently and shedding benevolent and penetrating perfume.

There are other evidences in Los Angeles of the village spirit. There is her large and inextinguishable army of quidnuncs. Everyone is interested in everyone else. Snooping is the popular pastime, gossiping the popular practice. Privacy is impossible. One may not eat in seclusion: the private dining room—that iniquitous den, that abode of brazen Camilles—is prohibited by law. One may not drink in private: every saloon keeper is compelled to make his front door of plate glass, the object being, no doubt, to shame the lusher into abstinence. One may not make love in private: the public parks and beaches are patrolled and arclighted. One may not even pay a visit in private—provided one's hostess lives in an apartment; for it is illegal for a man and woman (unless married) to be alone in an apartment, no matter where that apartment, under what circumstances or at what time of day it may be occupied. Do not imagine these incredible mandates are abrogated blue laws, composed years ago in an excess of religious emotionalism. Not at all. They are of recent instigation and are enforced daily by an alert police department. Thus is the fair virtue of Los Angeles sustained. Thus do the fantastic moralities of a less civilized day live on and triumph in Southern California.

This village democracy naturally invades the social life of Los Angeles. It was a city of over-night fortunes, of breathless boundings, of mushroom education. Scarcely were the suds dry upon her arms before they were penetrating the recesses of an evening gown. Yesterday the washtub, today the Welte-Mignon; yesterday the overalls and the medicated underwear, today the braided broadcloth and the linen mesh. All this is not without its charm. To the stranger it is fascinating, as the skeleton of a diplodocus is fascinating. At first he stands aloof, but snobbery is a difficult game in Los Angeles. Furthermore, it is a futile one. The subtleties of class distinction do not fret or impress the native. And the stranger is soon weaned from his disdain. Once he has attended a reception and there met a tailor, the owner of a barber shop, a brace of actors, a piano tuner, a palmist and Emma Goldman, the democratic idea begins to get under his hide, and he finds himself at length contentedly boiling in the social melting pot.

Los Angeles is a city in a process of maturing. Its present condition is a temporary one. It possesses all the qualities of budding youth, outgrowing its clothes and endeavoring to swagger. This is evidenced particularly in its culture. Culture in Los Angeles is not indigenous, but rather an elaborate transmutation. At present it is being sedulously and ostentatiously acquired. There are clubs to cover all branches and eras of the arts. The streptococci of learning have invaded the city's social system, and its list of mental improvement organizations defies tabulation. Among them are Shakespeare clubs, Browning clubs, Brahms clubs, Ibsen clubs, dramatic, literary, ethical and hygienic societies of all descriptions. The arms of Los Angeles go snaking round the neck of every second, third and tenth rate author, musician or rabble-rouser who enters the gates. A Little Theater is on the way. There is a drama league; and Brieux, Wedekind, Schnitzler, Strindberg, Ibsen, Havelock Ellis and Nietzsche have long since been gulped and stomached.

There is something admirably Spartanlike in this feverish charge upon erudition, this impassioned' grappling with esthetics. To be sure, much of the activity is spurious, the result of social impact, the natural desire to get aboard; but it at least has had the virtue of stirring things up. Women in Los Angeles have ceased to be marionettes, mere sedentary females dependent for their livelihood upon graft. They are the leaders of most of the "movements." They vote, storm the curbstone tables to sign petitions of protest against immoral trafficking, attend citizens' meetings, lecture on proposed ordinances and organize political clubs. Many of them hold public offices. Their pictures appear in the daily papers, labeled "leading citizens." Their support is sought by politicians. They bristle with genuine importance. They are a public factor to be reckoned with. Docility is not one of their virtues. Nor are politics and public improvement their only forte. In the literary, artistic and dramatic movements they are the arbiters: the local Sanhedrins of learning are ninetynine percent feminine. And even if they do think Browning the greatest Victorian, Ibsen a tractarian for women's votes, Nietzsche a crazy misogynist and Charles Rann Kennedy a great dramatist, they are to be indulged; for they are passing through that necessary stage in the quest for culture which inevitably precedes all genuine knowledge. Here again we get a whiff of the spirit of Los Angeles—the aggressive cologne of a village trying to improve itself.

It is inevitable that Los Angeles should offer rare and glowing opportunities for faddists and mountebanks —spiritualists, mediums, astrologists, phrenologists, palmists and all other breeds of esoteric wind-jammers. The city is cursed with an incredible number of these cabalistic scaramouches. Whole buildings are devoted to occult and outlandish orders—mazdaznan clubs, yogi sects, homes of truth, cults of cosmic fluidists, astral planers, Emmanuel movers, Rosicrucians and other boozy transcendentalists. These empirics do a thriving and luxurious business. They fill the papers with mystic balderdash. They parade the streets in plush kimonos. They hold "classes" and "circles," and wax fat on the donations of the inflammatory. No other city in the United States possesses so large a number of metaphysical charlatans in proportion to its population. The doctrines of these buddhas appeal to the adolescent intelligence. By the recital of platitudes couched in interstellar terminology, they dangle the tinsel star of erudition before the eyes of the semieducated. Their symbological teachings represent a short cut to knowledge, a means of attaining infinite wisdom without the necessity of hard study. These doctrines are ingeniously salted with altruistic formulas, thereby offering a soothing substitute for Methodist theology. The Los Angeles mind has been enchanted by this East Indian wind music, and exudes large globules of psychic perspiration in its undaunted and heroic assault upon culture.

But all this flirting with auras is merely one of the dangerous and expensive bits of pioneering through which the rustic intelligence must pass in ascending the ladder of cosmopolitanism. And it is also indicative of the extravagances of youthful cognition that Los Angeles supports a vast army of neuropaths, chiropractics, hydropaths, electrotherapists, mental healers, osteopaths and other romantic scientists. The scoundrelly allopaths—those plotters against human happiness and health—have uphill work in the community. When they attempted to institute a tuberculin test for cattle they were defeated nearly two to one by the "medical freedomists." When the city board of health attempted to put down a recent epidemic of anterior poliomyelitis, again the loud cackling of the psychotherapists and their allied lodges thwarted simple quarantine measures. Vaccination in Los Angeles is looked upon as a murderous graft. And any allopathic attempt at germicide is regarded as a form of fanatical hysteria. The village mind, suspicious of genuine intelligence, is immured in that brummagem sophistication which makes it wary of serums and toxins merely because the pathogenic spirilla are invisible to the naked eye. Even an ordinance to muzzle dogs during the hot weather (passed after several authentic cases of rabies) was greeted with petitions from "humanitarians," automobile parades of protestation and public indignation meetings, and was finally set aside. Mind, in Los Angeles, is considered far more efficacious than therapeutics; and the germ theory is scouted as the maniacal raving of matriculated butchers.

But what of the stomach—that important and underrated organ? What has Los Angeles to offer in the line of physical well-being? Alas! The spirit of provincialism is nowhere better shown than in the city's restaurants and cafes. These eating places are little more than magnified village lunch rooms. The most popular ones are those which serve the largest portions. The gastronomic ideals are simplicity and quantity. Cooking in Los Angeles has none of the essentials of an art. There is no delicacy, no desire to please the eye, no imaginative combinations, no rare and savory dishes copied from the aristological lore of European kitchens. No item of the bill of fare will cause an Iowan to hesitate and ponder as to its meaning. The piece is stated in lucid terms—"beef stew," "sweetbreads," "calf's liver," and the like. These prosaic and eminently understandable utterances are occasionally followed by outlandish aus and a las, but these addenda rarely affect the fundamental nature of the dish. You may seek in vain for artistry, for esthetics, for delicacies, for subtleties, for nuances of victualage. The atrocity of the cooked food in one restaurant is only surpassed by the offering of the one down the street. The hedonistic tourist, the occasional Brillat-Savarin, the transient Sala or Vittelius, compromises with the prosaic beefsteak, and hurries on to other cities.

The reason why Los Angeles is devoid of good cooking is due, first, to the character of its inhabitants, and, second, to its lack of any gastronomic heritage. Her provincial taste in foods is like her provincial taste in morals and dress— crude, complacent, unimaginative. Eating and dressing, to the habitual moralist, are physical necessities; and when these necessities begin to ascend into the realms of art, they become indulgence, if not downright indecencies. Fancy and elaborate dishes offend the prude in the same pathopsychological manner that fancy and elaborate dresses offend him. They have a tendency of turning his thoughts from the good, the true and the beautiful to the carnal, the lewd and the earthy. The flesh cannot be mortified with Beamaise sauce, seductively prepared truffles, and coupes St. Jaques. To eat gloriously and riotously is to make a god of one's belly; and the Wisconsin god has no stomach. The average resident of Los Angeles has an ingrained suspicion of ornamental and extravagant cooking. He prefers the good old dishes and the homely nomenclature. Nor is he sufficiently rakish to order an entree with which he is unfamiliar. With him, a gastronomic adventure is in the same category as an amorous adventure. His puritanical phagocytes become automatically active the moment a gipsy thought enters his head. Hence the simplicity of the Los Angeles bill of fare, its innocence of any exotic compote or vol-au-vent. The almost bucolic diet forced upon the restauranteur in Los Angeles could be borne were the cooking of superior quality; but here again a noble craft is discouraged by lack of appreciation. It has been found by the cafe owners that poorly prepared meals are as popular as the combinations of experts; and consequently there are few places in the city where one may obtain meritoriously cooked food.

Los Angeles, however, is not a city whose organisms demand an interesting or even competent cafe life. Such restaurants as she possesses and such cafes as she tolerates are mere concessions to the immoral tourist who has not yet been ravished by the bacilli of domesticity. With the possible exception of Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, Los Angeles is the dullest city in the United States from the standpoint of the pleasure-seeking stranger, the out-of-town visitor and the traveling salesman. The spirit of genuine gaiety is lacking. Enjoyment is considered the first step to perdition. Noise is the rumbling of the gates of hell. Music is the sign of immorality, and dancing is indecent. This is largely the attitude of Los Angeles, and committees are continually being formed to discourage each and all of these licentious manifestations. It is small wonder that Los Angeles enjoys the reputation of being the most puritanical and stupidly governed city of the first class in America— a city of little sociability or hospitality, a city devoid of lenience and cosmopolitanism.

The trouble lies in the fact that the people of Los Angeles stay too much at home. In the Middle West, entertainment was rare, and the hearthstone habit became fixed. So the transplanted resident hurries home to his open fireplace and his built-in bookcases, or calls on his neighbors. He possesses a virgin innocence of the theory that there is any other life permissible to respectable and pious persons. He views the cafe as a place where one goes with chorus girls or other people's wives, a rendezvous for the white slavers. Therefore, he has no desire to go to a cafe after the theater to hear good music and meet friends. Such a proceeding would be to flirt with sin, to set an immoral example for his children. No Babylonish merrymaking for him! No encouragement of youthful skylarking! No leg-shaking and immodest cabarets! "To hum," quickly and virtuously! St. Louis, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, New York— these cities are not without their cafe life, their carnival spirit, their jollity, their youthful pleasantries. They are hospitable, in the broad sense, because they offer a good time to the stranger; and they are able to give the good time because their inhabitants have gaiety in their blood. They have not been anesthetized with a monastic morality. They do not suffer from a pathological fear of joy. They have not succumbed to the prim doctrine that pleasure is vice, and that the natural instincts are obscene. But such is the doctrine of Los Angeles —a city where virtue has become virulent.

Is the real Los Angeleno a pietist, a killjoy, a lawn sprinkler, a lover of rhubarb, a toreador of virtue? Are there no other citizens—no genuine human beings, no honest rascals, no Philippe Bridaus, no Lilly Czepaneks, no Colonel Newcomes? Has the city indeed no urbanity, no culture? To be sure—to be sure. But what I am trying to do is to limn and transmit the personality of the town, to catch its dominant chord at this particular period of transition, to set forth its consuming ideal, to paint it impressionistically as it strikes the visitor today. Los Angeles stands in the unique position of having no representative citizens, no permanent quality of hospitality. Its personality today is not that of yesterday; and tomorrow may issue in an entirely different aspect of genius. At present it epitomizes no stable qualities. It is almost entirely without individuality. There are no traditions to mould its temperament. There is no foundation of culture, religion, habits or tenets. Its history ceased in 1847. At that time a new era began. The Spanish civilization breathed its last, and its influence, too, passed out with the desecration of the Franciscan missions. Only the upholstered Spanish names remain to remind us that Los Angeles indeed has a past. The Americano brought with him his own clothes, foods, habits and liquors. He built on the ruins of Spain, but he might as well have built on a virgin desert for all the effect those ruins had upon him. And today the average citizen of Los Angeles, far from being influenced by a Spanish heritage, knows nothing of California's history prior to 1890, and more than likely is unable to pronounce the name of his own street. Scratch a native and you'll find an Iowan.

But, as I have said, there are other inhabitants besides the Middle Westerner. Considered technically and logically, the real citizens are found in those fine old Spanish families which survived the wreck of Spanish rule in California. These families are rare, however. They preserve the social aloofness of an elder day. They never raise their voice in political affairs. Sundays they are found at mass in the Cathedral on Main Street. In the afternoon they drive in the parks. They are glimpsed at the Opera, but rarely at the theaters. They cling to the faiths and customs of their forefathers. They are genuinely hospitable; they possess a degree of Continental culture; and once you have gained admittance to their homes, they lavish on you the whole-hearted courtesies characteristic of the Latin. These, then, may be claimed the true Los Angelenos; but this type of the aristocratic Spaniard, with his zealous loyalty to his racial traditions, is rapidly passing. Today barely a score of such families remain in Los Angeles.

On the other hand, the city numbers among its inhabitants a large number of civilized and well-to-do Easterners. These people are conversant with the works of Henry James. They eat their soup silently. They prefer Debussy to the music of George M. Cohan. They do not sign petitions to prohibit productions of "Sapho." The books in their libraries are cut. They do not roar at the strains of "Dixie." And during the opera season they attend "Manon" and "Herodiade" in preference to "II Trovatore" and "Rigoletto." They have been wooed to Los Angeles by the semi-tropical climate and have built their homes in the suburbs. There is a large number of such citizens. For the most part they are middle-aged, retired from active business life, and have gone West to find a mild and mellow climate in which to spend their declining years.

To these people alone is due the fact that Los Angeles has a long opera season; that it supports two symphony orchestras; that the local artists—a very talented body of men and women—are able to do serious work and find a market for their wares. They make it possible for at least one restaurant in Los Angeles to cook its food properly. To them is due the bookings of the better class attractions at the local theaters. And they have made Los Angeles nationally famous as a discriminating book-buying center. But only in such ways do they influence the community. They are unable to defeat the asinine ordinances which the pious city fathers are forever imposing upon the inhabitants, and the spirit of the town is little altered by their activities. The very nature of these people makes them shrink from the cheap publicity which is necessary to combat the riotous debauches of Puritanism through which the city is continually passing. Their influence is necessarily a subterranean one, but in this intelligent minority lies the hope of the city's cosmopolitan growth.

And yet—after the worst has been said, much remains which is deserving of praise. Wherein lies the fascination of the Angel City? Why has it become the Mecca of tourists the world over? Is it because it is the best advertised city in the United States? Is it that it offers illimitable opportunities for making money and eating fruit? Hardly that. After all the pamphlets of the real estate agents, the boosters' clubs, the Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce have been read, something remains unspoken—something that uncannily grips the stranger. Despite its suburban pieties, its vice crusades, its domestic ideals, its incessant gossiping, its moral anesthesia, its Oriental religions, its Cagliostros, its leaden midnights, its poor cooking, its garish newness, its lack of hospitality, its tawdry culture, its cruel Sundays and its Iowan traditions—notwithstanding all these handicaps, there is something essentially inspiring in the life of the city. Los Angeles is a modem Ephesus, and as such is a challenge to the virile blood of the nation. Great problems are being worked out there. The city reeks with promise. Life in Los Angeles is real and earnest. There is a continual clash of wit—not the wit of epigram and culture, but the wit of serious endeavor. It is a city of crudities, of experimentation, of reinforced concrete, of gaudy colors, of real estate transactions. It represents the pioneering stage in both commerce and art. It possesses much of the bumptious assurance of the youth suddenly burdened with responsibilities. Its future is not a bustle; all eyes are fixed on tomorrow morning's sunrise. At present it is more heterogeneous than any other city in America. Its hypocrisies are matched by subcutaneous audacities which shock even the hardened policemen. At present it is far more emotional than logical. The god of Los Angeles is a combination of Calvin and Anthony Comstock—with Comstock predominating.

I am tempted to predict the future of Los Angeles; but such is not my mission in this article. But in so far as the personality of the Los Angeles of today indicates the Los Angeles of tomorrow— just as the youth suggests the man—so may I surmise that which the coming years have in store. This looking forward is inevitable when one considers the character of the city. And so, considering it in its present embryonic condition, one sees a vision of a great metropolis, founded on solid stock—a metropolis wealthy and diverse, commercially powerful and artistically wise.

Cecil B. DeMille shooting The Squaw Man, 1913
On the set of The Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1913)

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