Elena Manferdini loves Los Angeles | The Plan
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Elena Manferdini loves Los Angeles

September 12th 1997: the day of my 23rd birthday I landed in Los Angeles after a 16-hour trip that departed from Bologna, Italy. As I was flying over Los Angeles, en route to commence my one-year scholarship to UCLA, I never thought I was about to land in a city I would call home for the next 20 years. Looking out the window, I remember noticing the sunlight was whiter than I was used to, and the relentless urban sprawl as far as the eye could see. Concrete and asphalt engulfed the city - where flat, grey rooftops formed archipelagos, the silver air-conditioning exhausts their most notable feature. Amidst all this were blue, kidney shaped swimming pools in every backyard. I remember thinking “Did they waste an entire continent?” and suddenly I landed in a warm dry air city that smelled like airplane kerosene. After a total of 15,000 hours spent in my car, hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles, several minor (and less than minor) earthquakes, years of living in a Venice Beach bungalow one block away from the ocean, and after obtaining all immigration visas one could possibly have before finally holding a blue passport, I can safely say that I have earned the appellative of “Angelino” - the funny name given to all individuals that have lived in this city long enough to call it home. Generally speaking, I align more with the views of Reyner Banham in his 1971 book The Architecture of Four Ecologies in which he writes a love letter to LA urbanism, rather than the noir dystopia of Mike Davis’ City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1990). But similarly to many megalopolises of our times, it is true that Los Angeles is a city of stark dichotomies. By now I have lived all the nuances of a complicated relationship with one of the most peculiar cities in the USA. Here maddening traffic, racial and social injustice, health and education infrastructural deficiencies, the rise of luxury and poverty, the big bailouts after...

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