Re “Things That Bedevil Our City of Angels,” Voices, April 26: Jon Gerloff’s attempt at a lighthearted indictment of Los Angeles’ foibles comes off like the sour griping of a stuffy old man. In his haste to list the well-worn Los Angeles detriments -- high rents, rudeness, traffic, crime, lack of integration and liberal actors -- he forgets that not all of us choose to live on the white-bread Westside. If Gerloff ever ventured east of Vermont Avenue he’d see a different world.
In my neighborhood of Echo Park, for example, Latinos, Koreans, blacks and whites all manage to live together in integrated harmony. Drivers are generally polite to each other, since we’re not in a position to insulate ourselves with “wealth and celebrity” like the churls blazing around Brentwood and Beverly Hills. If Gerloff ever wants to expand his horizons and confront his cliches, he should come check it out: “Common folks” are a dime a dozen, and there’s plenty of good Chinese food right around the bend in Chinatown.
Crime, traffic and the high cost of living are the detractions of most cities, Los Angeles included, and will remain so as long as there is such a wide gulf of misunderstanding between the common folks and people like Gerloff -- who can actually even consider purchasing a half-million-dollar fixer-upper and whose obviously oversized vehicle fills at $50.
This evening I went dancing at a club in Hollywood and realized something quite profound. I believe that America is an idea. It is a state of being, a consciousness. With this preemptive occupation of Iraq by a president put in power by a court, which has left us with the reputation as an occupying force throughout the world (not as liberators, as the U.S. media would have us believe), I have been thinking a lot about what America is these days. Tonight, on one dance floor with Asians, Latinos, African Americans, Armenians, Russians, whites, gays, straights, rich and poor, young and old, we were one people, in joy, in love, together, sweating and grooving, and what we had was freedom. I am so proud to live in Los Angeles right now.
Despite all our problems, we are one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, and there are places and times where you can see us all together celebrating our American dream. This is the liberation I hope for all peoples -- the freedom to be yourself.