Posted 20 hours ago

(NEW EDITION) City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles

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And when the dolls up to get to the Vanity Fair, words like “punk”, “hardcore” don’t seem so good down there. But Davis's observations about surveillance still applied; "the occasional appearance of a destitute street nomad in Broadway Plaza or in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art" still "se[t] off a quiet panic. Black Lives Matter protests have further emphasised the underlying racial structures of American power and thought that Davis probed and denounced.

It's quite well-done and very informative (at least to an ignoramus like me), but Davis goes overboard now and then in seeing a conspiracy to repress the poor behind everything. yet the City of Angels with its storied dream factories is still a sufficient magnet for folks to stream to from across the globe despite all these attendant risks.

Llano – once a site of utopian socialist dreams, now another remote suburb of tract housing and social problems. Angelenos, now is the time to lean into Mike Davis's apocalyptic, passionate, radical rants on the sprawling, gorgeous mess that is Los Angeles.

Davis makes no secret of his political leanings: in the new revised introduction he spells them out in the first paragraph.This concern with the design of social space, the marginalisation of public space by redevelopment, and the imposition of security systems all marked the changing city by the end of the 1980s boom.

Mike Davis, a born and bred Angelino, turns his critical eye on the socio-political history of LA, helping to navigate visitors like myself around the baffling contradictions of a city sold to us all in various forms. City of Quartz, which was actually a PhD dissertation that he turned into book form, looks at all of Southern California’s issues, including water, and weaves them together into a road map for the 21st century, with lots of warning signs along the way.He tells a lurid tale of greed, manipulation, power and prejudice that has made Los Angeles one of the most cosmopolitan and most class-divided cities in the United States. Although the market determines Los Angeles’ immigration and urban design, the wealthy elites and middle classes who live in the more affluent parts of town have sought to remain faithful to the Boosters’ dream by campaigning to incorporate their neighborhoods and pass laws that make them inaccessible to the less affluent and nonwhite. To Mike Davis, the author of this fiercely elegant and wide- ranging work of social history, Los Angeles is both utopia and dystopia, a place where the last Joshua trees are being plowed under to make room for model communities in the desert, where the rich have hired their own police to fend off street gangs, as well as armed Beirut militias.

It’s a book about understanding the relationship between the built and the un-built, the physical fabric and social fabric. It shows how the contest of power shaped, under the promise of progress through endless growth, the city’s spatial and social development in ways that presaged a dystopian future. Then come a subset of heroes, the debunkers: Adamic, Mayo Morrow, McWilliams, muralists like Siquieros.

The idea that spaces develop from "logical" or apolitical forces — that they are "innocent" and "free of traps or secret places" — shields any reference to the structures of accumulation, political decision-making, and historical power dynamics that go into and explain the intentions behind the construction of the modern urban built environment.

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