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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Obsessing over a New York Times article on hugging in Los Angeles is so L.A.

LAX hugging
A traveler catching a flight at LAX gets one last hug outside Terminal 1.
( Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Columnist Steve Lopez’s misguided “disgust” about an out-of-touch New York Times article on hugging in Los Angeles pretty much sums up the stereotypes portrayed of Angelenos by New Yorkers.

Have you ever heard New Yorkers (regardless of socioeconomic background) talk about the Times’ real estate section? The paper is so otherworldly that my parents once took out an obituary for their dog, and it ran undisputed.

Real New Yorkers read either the Post or the Daily News. Why? Because the Times is too expensive and difficult to read on the train to work.

That said, as a sociologist, artist and urban explorer, I can say that the truth is that “this ‘Los Angeles’ that the NYT keeps writing about” exists just as much as every other bubble exists in both Los Angeles and New York. Anyone who scratches the surface of either clearly sees that our current interdependence on technology for cultural information has segregated and isolated the population more than it has integrated them.

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In my opinion, Lopez’s column only stands to further the acceptance of these stereotypes and drive people apart.

Sam Pocker, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I enjoyed Lopez’s delightful column about hugging in Los Angeles.

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My best understanding of L.A. came from a talk that longtime UCLA Chancellor Charles Young gave to new faculty. It was in the 1960s, and I had just been hired as an assistant professor. Young said that Los Angeles does not exist -- it was up to each one of us to create our own Los Angeles.

So when Lopez writes that it is difficult to define L.A. in simple terms, it is because it is not just difficult, it is impossible. The wonder of this city is the freedom for each of us to create our own city and the innumerable ways that are open for us to do so.

James Freed, Santa Monica

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To the editor: I would like to speak up for the anti-huggers.

I had to warn a chap in our social group that his constant attempts to hug me constituted assault, and that, were he to succeed, it would be battery. Perhaps my being a cold, unemotional Englishman has something to do with it.

Richard Jackson, Arroyo Grande

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To the editor: There are two certainties about the individual from New York who claimed not to have experienced much hugging in that city.

This person is neither Italian nor from Brooklyn. You only hug a tourist at a wedding or a bar.

Michael Francis Clarke, Venice


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