05 August 2008

An empty fallow fount

Coming off a recent bout of snobbery towards Los Angeles, I've grown to adore the city. I find the grayness and decay very romantic and fascinating mostly because it's essentially the complete opposite of the aesthetic that I've been conditioned to find tasteful and desirable. That said, though, I've been limiting myself to areas that I'm comfortable or at least remotely familiar with - the hipster haunts of Los Feliz and Silver Lake, the overgrown Laurel Canyon, the garishly pristine Beverly Hills and the carnival like Hollywood. But I had yet to experience the Universal Studios CityWalk.

I went with innocent enough intentions, to see the new Batman movie on IMAX (which I found out is more interesting than merely super-sizing a film.) And, I was familiar with the concept of the place at least, thanks to a key scene in Shopgirl, but it's shot with the same serenity as the rest of the film - everything is somehow peaceful in Anand Tucker's Los Angeles.

My friend took me there knowing how I'd cringe at the crowds, the restaurants, and the outfits. Before the movie began we spent exactly 9 minutes dodging through the crowds to take in the entire strip...and that was quite enough.

Nothing horrible actually happened. I wasn't robbed. No one spit on me or glared (maybe someone glared, but it was probably deserved or in response to my scowls). And I didn't go into a neon light induced epileptic fit or contract any diseases. It's just all such forced excitement with the flashing lights, the up tempo music and the smell of sweet fried food literally everywhere you turn. The outfits were tight and logo-ed, the obesity statistics rang true and the spending was excessive. CityWalk is a PG-13 rated, video game Vegas - less strippers, more flash. I can't imagine an entertainment venue that would make me feel as anxious as I did there.

And hundreds of people buy into it and poured into the place with entire families in tow even on a Sunday night at 10PM. The offerings were abundant, but indistinguishable. 18 fast food restaurants, 13 kindofmorelegitimate restaurants (Panda Inn is different from Panda Express?), retail shops like Hot Topic, Billabong and Harley Davidson, and of course the essential novelty stores (in case you want an Audrey Hepburn license). I cut my tour short for obvious reasons. Besides, I had to go wait in line for an hour for my movie to begin.

The chaos, the cost and the banality of the activities were just too much. Indeed, I've found my hell, and it is CityWalk. David Foster Wallace should really do a chapter on this place.

1 comment:

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