I like the idea of Los Angeles. I like the promise of palm trees and dry heat and driving on the other side of the street. I like daydreams of its Golden Age, where the beginnings of modern popular culture and star hysteria drew hybrid crowds of screen sirens, old world royalty, anguished musicians, and nouveau riche into the same rooms and circles of dysfunctional friendships and torrid love affairs. I am partial to plummeting down Wikipedia rabbitholes of the rise and tragic falls of buxom blonde Old Hollywood starlets. How the dramatic deaths of stars in Chateau Marmont suites, surrounded by excess and steeped in loneliness, became so heavily romanticised to the point of a sick, twisted beauty, is itself fascinating.
After all, Los Angeles is where life’s greatest ironies go to breed. The Fountain of Youth that ages its Botox babes with cynicism and insecurity. Pretending not to play The Game when you’re playing it so damn hard. Justifying excess and morally questionable pastimes because Sinatra or Monroe did the same. And yet, its vanity makes for the most excellent gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan menus. And its terrifying levels of pollution makes for the most incredible sunrises, sunsets and Golden Hours in between.
I’ve spent the past week and a half in a strange twilight zone of sepia tones and somnolent haze, unwittingly living by an unwritten manual of how life in Los Angeles is culturally storyboarded to be. Sunrise at Sunset Tower, sunset in Malibu, art immersion Downtown, baby time in Brentwood, cheap manicures in Hollywood strip malls, sunglasses on at all times. On the flipside, I’m studying but not absorbing, and working on things so absolutely surreal to the point of having to mentally recalibrate what is normal – or at least, trying not to be so judgmental and/or so horrified by other people’s far-flung standards of normalcy.
In that sense, there’s something comforting about having to frequent a city where you’d never (ever) want to live. I’d imagine that the likes of Cannes would be much the same. You can dip in and out. There’s no need to save some of the city’s charm for later, or get used to its frustrating shortcomings, or spend any time expanding your networks of people. You can take what you want and to hell with practicality and reason, even if the subsequent lifestyle for a few short days is completely fantastical.
For somebody whose everyday is militantly dictated by a mission for productivity and progress, flighty skepticism is some kind of cognitive vacation.
You certainly don’t feel rested at the end of the line, but you had a break. Right?
Photos by Margaret Zhang
THROUGHOUT: Saint AM St Barts Sunglasses in Cheetah (10% of all sales are donated to Optometry Giving Sight) – Josh Goot Coat – Louis Vuitton Twist MM Bag – Marni Printed Crepe Top (currently on sale – 30% off)