Disclaimer: This is the translation of my travel series on the US. I am not a native so I guess there are a lot of mistakes. If you find some, please note them here: piratenpad.de/p/translations Have fun! More pictures that are shared under CC-BY-SA here: plus.google.com/photos/105099398984990473421/albums?partnerid=gplp0
The merciless States of America
At Union Station I am getting picked up my third friend. I am impressed by the large railway station, with high ceilings and leather armchairs. I don’t mind the signs anymore, which stress that hanging out and begging are forbidden. Habits grow fast.
A highway with small colorful houses and a couple of hills, where the rich barricade themselves from the rest of the world.
In the car to Echo Park I get my first glimpse of the city of dreams: An industrial park with palm trees. A place where no one really wants to live, but everyone wants to work. A city, as it can only be invented by crazy writers who want to describe an innocent nightmarish dystopia. Los Angeles, where an almost perfect climate prevails, was built for people never want or need to walk. Except to the car. The City of Automobiles. There are the so-called strip malls, open air mini malls, and ultimately only a parking lot surrounded by a few shops. It is quite remarkable to see the people in this city where it is year-round mild, warm and sunny, never walking around. They spend their days in rooms with artificial light. Just like the actors play a perfect life on a green screen. Los Angeles is a huge green screen, the projection of a life that shines forth only while staging. The few who profit from it are facing an innumerable amount of the desperate and destitute. Bertolt Brecht, a few years in exile in Hollywood wrote, :
And so it is no surprise that the Walk of Fame was one of the most depressing place I have been so far during my journey and in my life in general. Between Spiderman and Wonder Woman, cloudy and full of tourists lay the great artists of Western modernity on the floor, unwashed, forced into pink star shape. In Hollywood stepping on means praying.
In this respect the rain that came down the first days of my stay in an unusual manner from heaven, felt like a concession from the city to my skeptical European soul. And indeed: Los Angeles is the most beautiful in the rain, when the oil and smoggy air yield and a fresh scent gives way, when the dirty haze is lifted and the cars go slowly and gently, then yes LA is the most beautiful. In general, the things that make LA wonderful are those that one would not expect: The wild beach in Malibu and the art museums, the fantastic Last Bookstore and the bold area in Downtown in general.
The art museums are full of jewels and completely empty. The elaborately assorted and donated privately collections give me an intimacy to modern art, as I have never thought possible. Contemplation is possible if no one is watching. And in LA’s art museums, which are also kind of cheap, no one is. Why? I don’t care. Let them leave me there alone. Quietly.
In addition to the soft surprises Los Angeles gave me, of course I had a plan. Photographing the Hollywood sign, driving through Beverly Hills and going to Santa Monica Pier for ice cream. Photographing succeeded, on Santa Monica Pier there was an extra round gambling and in Beverly Hills I had the most wonderful moment of my life at a 90210 dog show called Woofstock.
Surrounded by neon colored poodles and Louboutins, I have rarely seen such an intact filter bubble. It all started with overhearing a conversation when parking. In front of the fancy houses on perfect roads, with a perfect facade and perfect sidewalks (incidentally, they are only perfect in Beverly Hills – the rest of the streets in LA is one perforated disaster) is an elder man with blow-dried white hair and a casual summer outfit (My guess: silk blouse, linen pants and loafers all from Armani) sitting in an Old timer Porsche and chatting with a Botox-soaked lady in jogging outfit, which just means that she does not have to dress differently. Never. And: Be dressed like an athlete and doing sports are seldom as far apart as in Beverly Hills. To her completely effortless sports outfit the artificial Blondie is wearing a Louis Vuitton bag and a small uncolored poodle. With inflated lips the only phrase we hear from her is “Well, I do not have to be Donald Trump!” – Then we burst out laughing. We are in Beverly Hills, CA 90210!
On the way back from the dog show – $1000 Dog Carriers and a Life Foundation for the rescue of a dog from cancer – we pass Rodeo Drive, where the rich invest their money in appropriate clothing . It is so bright and clean that I’m blinded, the facades look like a movie set made of paper and plastic. I am almost trying to spot the headlights, the cinematographers and directors. But all I see is aging rich people in the sun drinking their $10 coffee and being angry at the Socialist Obama. And of course I hope their neon colored dog bites them. Beverly Hills is a world that I look at with fascination from a car window, it is attractive to me because it is a symbol for all the decadence of a few at the cost of the rest. A symbol of a world in which people believe that they are legitimized to waste much of the world’s resources for their private pleasure. They feel entitled. But as long as the majority looks up to those with admiration and awe, wishes themselves in the silly villas and also wants to dye a $5,000 dog in neon pink, nothing will change much. And this attitude has still not changed in the course of the ongoing recession. Yet.
The rigors of the system hit me when I cut my hand. Not too bad. Until my hand begins to tingle, becomes numb and grows a huge bloody line on my hand. I am heading for a blood infection. So off to Urgent Care – just not in the ER tells me my friend. She drives me. What else. The doctor provides me, gives me injections and advises me to take the antibiotics imported from me. He then demands $300 – cash or credit card. That is allegedly very cheap. Blessed with a bandage and a glove I stumble into conversations in which the phrases “You just don’t go to the doctors” keeps coming up.
Then again it only confirms what I already knew. And yet, to hear it from this young, ambitious people with all the debt for their education – I am shocked. And even more strange is the legitimation rhetoric that has been seared into the minds of people, deeply penetrated by Calvin and other charlatans who virtually prohibit to criticize obscene wealth. But enough. Enough with the lies of the meritocracy. Enough with the awe for those who exploit this world. Enough with the facades that are so highly polished that they burn their counterparts eyeballs. Enough. At least, this is what I learned from the exhibited States of America.