Every time I drive home from Hollywood through Laurel Canyon, I pass this billboard on Ventura Boulevard that proclaims “AWESOMETOWN: New homes from $200,000.” with pictures of happy running children, a tract home, and a sterile building. And every time I think “Really? Are you serious?” I mean, I understand that “ALL YOU CAN AFFORDTOWN” isn’t a great ad campaign, but AWESOMETOWN? Forgive me Valencians, but you can’t actually believe this about where you live. What I wonder is this: have the ad people have ever actually been to Valencia? And further: do they believe that Valencia is “awesome” or are they attempting to perpetrate a fraud on the rest of us?
I’ll grant Valencia is home to Cal Arts and Magic Mountain, but apart from those two draws, relative to oh, just about anywhere else in LA County, I’d hardly characterize it as “awesome,” I mean, unless white people, malls, and a town frighteningly evocative of the Truman Show is “awesome” in your book. I’ve always felt like one of the joys of Los Angeles is its messy unplanned nature. The freeway system, viewed from above, looks like a tangle of string or pasta. In any given strip mall you can buy pinatas, shop for Armenian groceries, get a pedicure and have a doughnut, and never have to utter a word of English. LA is random, untidy, and by turns charming and ridiculous. Valencia, on the other hand, is sanitized and sterile. It always makes me feel like I’m in biosphere or Logan’s Run. If I’m there for any period of time, I have to double check my palm to make sure that I don’t have a stone turning black set in the middle of it. I know “I CAN’T WAIT TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERETOWN” doesn’t scan very well, but who are you trying to sell houses to by billing yourself this way, Valencia? Twelve year-olds?