(Reviewed by Don Jung)
Back in the 1970s New Yorkers considered Los Angeles a “cow town” according to TV writer/novelist Bruce Ferber. As one of the twenty-nine commenting on how they describe the City of Angels, he explains how Los Angeles transformed from a B rated city to a class A city of wonders.
There are so many great stories from such a talented group who picture what they experienced during this time period. Most of the commentaries are about coming to the West Coast and transitioning into becoming an Angeleno.
The collage begins with Doors drummer John Densmore writing about the billboards on Sunset Boulevard and the Doors recording of “L. A. Woman”. This song about driving down the freeway and feeling alone sets the tone of living in L.A. with all of its contrasting lifestyles.
The twenty- eight other stories talk about diverse events like cruising down Van Nuys Boulevard, the Z-Boys and the Church of Scientology culture and its related issues. There’s a hodge-podge of tales with Los Angeles as the background.
There’s a football hero story, a tennis player story, a coming of age essay, and the beginnings of the punk rock scene. There’s the emergence of the porn industry (featuring John Holmes; remember him?), mainstream film and how to make a pilot. It’s a story of political beginnings and a Chicano gang retaliation that never seems to get justice for its victims.
Though there are so many good stories–about twenty out of the twenty-nine–my favorite one is a strange story about the “Snake and Bake” murder case told by a former LAPD detective.
There’s enough contrast in every writer’s story which adds depth to the collection as well as to the city that is often considered to be superficial. Los Angeles in the 1970s will appeal to those growing up in L.A. and it’s environs from any decade, to even those casual visitors. This decade shows the glamour and the pain of a city as it awakens to become a viable place that you can now call home.