I spent an hour last night writing a letter to our wedding guests, who will start arriving in Southern California in about 48 hours. We suggested Pasadena to our guests because it was the closest hotel zone to the venue – not counting downtown. We were NOT letting our relatives from Pittsburgh stay in downtown L.A., for fear they would take a wrong turn and end up in the third world slum that is Skid Row. In Pasadena, they can’t really go to a bad part of town because there isn’t one I know of.
Anyways, the letter was the usual stuff – welcome to Pasadena, here’s where you can find stuff. Here’s the letter we WANTED to write. And didn’t.
Dear Wedding Guests,
Welcome to Southern California! We know that you are delighted to get out of the weather wherever it is you came from, and get to someplace that doesn’t have seasons. We also know that you are probably going to try to go to Hollywood because that is where the only perceived history of Los Angeles is. We suggest you do not. Especially in daylight, when it’s just that much grimier. Or at night, when bad things could happen to you. Just pretend the whole history of movies thing didn’t happen. Because really, the first movie studio is under a Public Storage in the lost neighborhood of Edendale anyways.
In fact, we are sorry we can’t spend the weekend with you showing you how we perceive Los Angeles. Because we would have taken you to Carroll Street to see the Victorian houses, and to Echo Park to see the lake. We would have taken you to Olvera Street, even though it is more a history of a romanticized version of L.A.’s past. We would have shown you MacArthur Park, both as it is now and in paintings, where Wilshire Boulevard still has ladies in hats and parasols walking past the lake.
But we have this whole, y’know, wedding thing to do, so we can’t show you our Los Angeles. And we do not want your perception of these remaining fragments of Old Los Angeles to be corrupted by their surroundings. We do not want you to perceive the urban decay and be afraid of the new immigrant population who now lives here. So we have suggested Pasadena to you, which has its own charms and its own history, and is a beautiful, safe place for you to visit. You will just have to settle for the history contained within our own apartment, with its Art Deco exterior and 1920s design – in our extremely multicultural neighborhood.
Welcome to the Los Angeles area. We are glad you are here.