Sunday, April 6, 2008

I Do Not Live At The Center Of The World

A fact which I guess is even more true now that I live in Bakersfield rather than L.A.

Let us contemplate, for a moment, the fact that when one looks up basketball schedules on the L.A. Times website (that would be the Los Angeles paper, if you're curious), they give you the game times in Eastern Time.

This is probably actually because the L.A. Times just puts in some schedule-generated somewhere else, and Eastern Time is the national default for tv schedules, and so that's the way it is. Still, there's something eerie about watching a Los Angeles based paper print the times of its own home team according to the time of some other locale entirely.

It reminds me of the sense I had, growing up, that Los Angeles was not really a part of the national consciousness. Which may seem ridiculous, given the entertainment industry and all, but that wasn't the L.A. I lived. A lot of the people I went to high school with, I guess, had parents who made their livings off such mysterious things as residuals but up until that point I didn't really know anybody in L.A. who was involved in all that.

The more I think about it, the more ridiculous it seems that I would try to make that claim, that L.A. wasn't part of the national consciousness. We had the Lakers and City of Quartz and the riots and Joan Didion brooding about fires and flooding and water rights. We had L.A. Gear and, for a while, both the Raiders and the Rams, and the big one was coming one of these days.

So maybe my sense of the dominance of the East Coast was more a matter of the knee-jerk sense that a place you love is, however much consideration it actually gets, under-appreciated, the impulse that drives people to write passionate letters in defense of Kobe Bryant.

But I will tell you this. When I lived in Los Angeles, not so very long ago, half the people I knew had grown up there, gone away, returned. And yet, talking to strangers who weren't from there, when I said I was they would say, "Oh, that's so unusual," suffering from the widespread rumor that Los Angeles is a city of dreamers, of kids from Nebraska looking to make it big.

Whereas, I guess what I'm saying is that in some ways Los Angeles is just a city, a big city, a city that deserves to have its hometown paper print the tv schedules in accordance with the time zone in which it actually exists.


Noko Marie said...

This post made me laugh because growing up on the East Coast I did feel it was the center of the world and I was, you know, very into that feeling. I loved that the listings for everything were in Eastern Time.

I remember, too, from an extremely young age, being proud to be an East coast girl when I heard the Beach Boys: "The East coast girls are hip."

It's especially funny because I understood they were ultimately claiming the total overall superiority of California girls, but I didn't care about that. Hip, stylish, center of the universe, yes please, thank you very much.

Octopus Grigori said...

Just checking: I understand the Lakers, and the Rams and the Raiders, etc., and maybe even Joan Didion, as putting Los Angeles in the national consciousness, but City of Quartz? I guess it would depend on what national consciousness we were talking about. The national consciousness of undergraduate political science students at elite colleges? sure.

That said, it is weird about the time zone listings in the LAT. LA does seem to have a perpetual inferiority complex, which is totally undeserved in my opinion. I think some of that stems from the fact that Los Angelenos wake up three hours after stuff has already happened back east: people here wake up and the stock market has already crashed, terrorists have already flown planes into buildings, etc.

Also, the east coast, and New York specifically, are totally whack and played out. New York City jumped the shark a while ago. Happy to elaborate on this point.

Captain Colossal said...

Noko Marie: just imagine how weird it was to be a California girl listening to that song in a roller skating rink in Buffalo and yet knowing that you weren't at all the kind of girl covered by the category (see my inability to tan).

Octopus: I like your theory that it's the time differential itself that leads to that anxiety. It's funny, Chicago doesn't have any of that. And, while I take your point about City of Quartz, I feel like that's exactly the audience L.A. has always felt wary of.

Octopus Grigori said...

L.A. is wary of undergrads at Amherst and UPenn? I am dubious, Capt.