Among the uglier new ize words to turn up recently is the verb Los Angelize and its noun form, Los Angelization.
Obviously, it is a word most likely heard in the city councils and town halls of smaller metropolises whose citizens fear that they are about to become like Los Angeles.
Thus, to Los Angelize a city would be to afflict it with urban sprawl, street crime, air pollution, loss of identity and other evils associated with L.A.
A man who has not only discovered the pernicious use of this word, but also understands its dangers, is Stephen H. Silverman, American Institute of Certified Planners, of the Rick Engineering Co., San Diego.
In an essay called "Armed With a Verb," which a reader has copied from the local American Planning Assn. newsletter, Silverman describes Los Angelize as a form of "urban defamation," and notes that in Oregon a few years ago there was a fear of being Californicated, and in San Francisco a fear of being Manhattanized.
"And in San Diego," he adds, "dread comes as Los Angelization. "
Silverman's definition of the phrase Los Angelization gives us some idea of our city as it is visualized in such supposed Utopias as San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno, and, for all I know, Bakersfield.
"As an invective," he says, "Los Angelization is a virtual Rorschach of anyone's unnamed perception of urban ills. Los Angelization becomes synonymous with the dark forces of high (or low) density, traffic congestion, air pollution, longer home-to-work trips, crime in the streets, urban ennui, suburban proliferation, interpersonal alienation, and examples of how the rich get richer."
Silverman's is a keener vision of Los Angeles than those achieved by most journalists who come here from other places and write the usual bunk about life in the fast lane.
For example, Vivian McInerny wrote recently in the Portland Oregonian:
"If every city has its own flavor, then Los Angeles' is tutti-frutti. Tropical palm trees flourish in the concrete jungle. Pristine swimming pools reflect smoggy skies. Suburbs circle suburbs, yet the city center, like the center of doughnuts and Life Saver candies, is an empty hole."
McInerny makes the standard observation that everybody in Los Angeles is trying to get into show business, including her bus driver, her waiter and her doorman.
Since she attended a benefit in the Bonaventure Hotel, it is odd that McInerny didn't notice that downtown Los Angeles is hardly an empty hole.
She sums up:
"The eccentrics of Los Angeles; the Tarzan callers, the fame groupies and the superstars just waiting to shine are not strange. Or odd. They're simply L. Aliens. They put the frutti in tutti-frutti. And without them, Los Angeles would be a little bland."
I suppose McInerny's comment will deepen Portland's fear of being Californicated or, more specifically, Los Angelized.
From a copy of his column sent me by Bill McDonald of our Orange County pressroom, I see that even David Broder, the distinguished political columnist for the Washington Post, came down with myopia when, because of a family medical emergency, he was forced to visit Los Angeles.
"Did you know," he asked, "that you cannot walk in Los Angeles? The sidewalks are simply traps for unwary tourists."
Broder said that when a Los Angeles Times reporter wrote that he had walked from the paper to the new Los Angeles Theater Center on Spring Street, "nobody I talked to believed him."
Broder observed that only two kinds of cars are eligible for licensing in Los Angeles: foreign cars and limousines.
"I am told," he wrote, "that the last confirmed sale in Los Angeles of an American-made non-limousine occurred in 1979." (To Jerry Brown.)
That can't be true. I saw a new Chrysler convertible last night in the parking lot of the Pacific Diner, downtown, and I drive a 1984 Pontiac myself.
Broder says he was questioned by a policeman in a patrol car for walking at night from one apartment to another on an empty, well-lighted Wilshire Boulevard.
"In the tone of a skeptical TV detective, he inquired, 'Everything all right, Mister?' 'Yes, sir,' I said. 'Why do you ask?'
" 'Well,' he said, as if it were obvious, 'you were walking.' "
That explains everything. Broder was obviously in Beverly Hills, and probably never saw Los Angeles at all.
Meanwhile, Silverman warns fellow San Diegans against easy name-calling:
"It may be difficult to give up that rather unflattering notion (about Los Angeles) since mutual loathing is a terrifically effective bonding agent. . . . Increasingly, Los Angelization is a shorthand for an undesirable life style and an undesired density. There's no question, of course, that it's used as a cheap shot that plays to the crowd. . . ."
San Diego is growing, and growth is inevitable, Silverman points out. San Diegans want "to stop crowding on our beaches, streets, stores, and restaurants," he observes. "We want to retain what's left of the languid charm that native San Diegans tell us is fast eroding. Los Angelization becomes the manifestation of those horrors. It's the barbarians at the gates--even though these barbarians are drinking Fume Blanc and driving BMWs."
He points out that San Diego is not "like" Los Angeles and in the most significant ways it never can be, because of its topography, the hills that separate it into various well-defined neighborhoods.
San Diego must face up to its problems, he suggests, without reference to the horrors of Los Angeles.
By the way, I wonder what kind of skies the swimming pools of Portland reflect. Gray?