Sunday, March 02, 2008


Watching The Gates yesterday afternoon on HBO, I was reminded of why I love New York City so much, and consequently I began to realize why I don’t like Los Angeles. The Gates is a documentary about Jean-Claude and Christo’s magnificent art project in Central Park. They were made of orange metal and fabric and lined the pathways of Central Park for two weeks in February of 2005. The film outlines the process of bringing The Gates to life, a process that took several decades and an incredible amount of tenacity, and also chronicles the reactions of New Yorkers to the installation, most of which were overwhelmingly positive.

The Gates were up during my last winter living in New York. I remember going up to Central Park with my best friend Ted and wandering around awestruck. We really had no words to describe The Gates. They were extraordinary. The best part, though, was the people around us. When you live in New York you come to detest but tolerate crowds. You avoid places like Times Square and The Great Lawn and try to capture your own New York that you don’t have to share with the city. The Gates drew a lot of their power, however, from the fact that they were a shared experience. They drew people into Central Park and forced us to be around each other, to interact with each other. I struck up conversations about art and the nature of collective experiences with complete strangers that day. The Gates invited the people of the city to be at their best, to celebrate art with each other.

I can’t imagine such an experience in Los Angeles. People simply don’t interact here in the same way. We drive around in our cars all day. We don’t have faces to put to the people around us, and that invites us to treat them as objects rather than as humans. There is also a complete lack of identity for any area of the city. For the most part, the only way to tell where you are by the amount of parking there is. Park Slope has an identity. The Upper East Side has an identity. Venice and Santa Monica do not, in my experience. It’s a city structure that doesn’t invite interaction or spontaneity, either. A night out in the East Village meant that you would most likely meet up with at least three different groups of friends and hang out. Los Angeles is so spread out and cloistered that it’s impossible to have that same sort of experience.

But, I don’t want this to turn into a rant. Watching The Gates made me realize how much I miss New York’s energy and generosity of spirit. It really is the greatest city in the world.


Blogger Jay said...

dude, you think LA sucks only b/c we haven't kicked it yet.

hope you're doing well g.

4:23 AM  

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