Los Angeles Is an Unreliable Narrator

The Truest Thing About the City: We Are All Just Making It Up as We Go Along

Los Angeles is an unreliable narrator. The very cityscape is an illusion, albeit on the grand scale—streets and buildings, the human design of it, erected on a bed of sand and tar. If you want to know what it is about the place, you need only visit my favorite local site, the La Brea Tar Pits, where the kitsch of Fiberglas mammoths comes face to face (literally and figuratively) with the existential reality of the tar lake, which are the existential realities of Los Angeles itself. The tar, after all, …

Beyond the ‘Dark Fog of Disdain,’ San Francisco Is Still There

How Revisiting a Children’s Book Helped Me See the City by the Bay, On and Off the Page

For a young bookworm like me in 1960s New Jersey, almost nothing was more exciting in elementary school than ordering my own paperbacks from the Scholastic Book catalog. I would …

Where I Go: Redondo Beach Brings Me Back to Myself

I’m the Keeper of My Family’s Memories. My Hometown Is Where I Uncover the Layers of Our Past

Late one afternoon last year, during a troubled time in my life, I took a long walk on the beach.

A day of rain was ending. Watery sunlight shone on glossy …

Why I Drove 80 Miles Across Southern California on Surface Streets

The Road to the Inland Empire Is Paved With Good Memories—And Gratitude for Freeways

Don’t ever complain about freeway traffic, especially around my mother.

“You’re lucky to have freeways—when I was a kid, we didn’t have freeways,” she used to say.

But that didn’t stop my …

Longing for the Softer Side of Hurricanes

A Continent Away from Horrible Destruction, I Miss the Familial Routines of My South Florida Childhood

After school, whenever I walked into my family’s home in Davie, Florida, I was always reminded of 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, which decimated nearly 64,000 homes some 60 miles away in …