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Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los…

Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles (2015)

by David L. Ulin

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Disappointing essays on what Los Angeles is becoming in the 2010 years. I was really looking forward to reading this book as Ulin had earlier edited a literary anthology on writings about LA. This book rehashes older themes of the City of Los Angeles as constantly engaged in erasing and recreating itself. Destroying and putting up a false front for others to imagine ourselves as something preferable to what we are not. The essays get more tedious as the pages turn. This book seems like it was written to flatter all Ulin friends who he has dinner conversations with. That's the level creative thought you find here. Ulin does spend some time talking about developer Rick Caruso, who is a Catholic and philanthropist and his ideas about public and private spaces. Ulin gets everything wrong about what Caruso tries to accomplish but that just shows how deeply influenced by failed liberal city planners Ulin is.
Ulin is a New Yorker who has lived in LA for much of his adult life so he does speak with some authority about historical change in the area but he is also quick to dismiss much about which is singular to Los Angeles. He says, "...in New York, we take urbanity for granted,whereas in Los Angeles, we are still learning its vernacular." That may be true but you don't need New York to conceive of what Los Angeles actually is. The city is much newer that New York but grew independently of what happened on the east coast. Ulin wants to force a similar development of Los Angeles from that already undergone by New York. All New Yorkers want that, just like the English want New York to be London. Who cares? Different strokes for different folks. This book is frustrating since it's resigned to LA being a New York copy, a fake copy that all of New York can laugh at. I'll keep this book since I consider it my hobby to see what is written about Los Angeles, but you don't have to waste time reading it.
  sacredheart25 | Jul 31, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0520273729, Hardcover)

In Sidewalking, David L. Ulin offers a compelling inquiry into the evolving landscape of Los Angeles. Part personal narrative, part investigation of the city as both idea and environment, Sidewalking is many things: a discussion of Los Angeles as urban space, a history of the city’s built environment, a meditation on the author’s relationship to the city, and a rumination on the art of urban walking. Exploring Los Angeles through the soles of his feet, Ulin gets at the experience of its street life, drawing from urban theory, pop culture, and literature. For readers interested in the culture of Los Angeles, this book offers a pointed look beneath the surface in order to see, and engage with, the city on its own terms.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 17 Oct 2015 16:50:04 -0400)

"Sidewalking is an impressionistic take on Los Angeles in its current moment, which is a flashpoint of great transition, as the city verticalizes and densifies. It is also a meditation on the history, natural and human, of a place that often is derided as having no sense of its own past. What does it mean to live in, and think about Los Angeles at the level of its streets? Growing out of a series of walks, Sidewalking peels back the myths, the layers, to look at the city as it really is"--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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