Can L.A. Finally Forget the Fatalism of Chinatown?

A UCLA Historian Offers a New Narrative for a City That’s Defined Itself by Its Injustice, Violence, and Corruption

A mother, seeking to protect her daughter and herself, fires a gunshot toward her abusive father, and then flees by car. Los Angeles police, on the scene but in no danger, open fire on the departing vehicle, killing the mother.

Her unnecessary death is more than a tragedy, or another instance of bad judgment by the cops. Her shooting has become an all-but-official emblem of California’s most populous city.

That’s because it’s the celebrated final scene of the 1974 film Chinatown.

Every American municipality has suffered from police or state violence, and most …

L.A. Is Drowning in Its Own Water Pretensions

Civic Leaders' Fantastical Claims of Water Self-Sufficiency May Endanger Southern California's Real Water Supplies

This time, “Chinatown” is fooling itself.

Los Angeles has a long history of water deceptions, a point made famously by Roman Polanski’s 1974 neo-noir film. But the massive self-sabotage of the …

Los Angeles Is Not a Sin

‘Chinatown’ Was a Movie, Not a History of Our Water. It’s Time to Stop Thinking Our City Is Real-Life Film Noir.

Newsflash! Los Angeles, a famously dry place, this month has been suddenly inundated. The source is not rain, not El Niño. Nope, we’re experiencing a flash flood of commentary tied …