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April 10, 2007
Los Angeles, City of Productions
Sleepless in Los Angeles. There are so many helicopters buzzing in this place it sounds like a war zone. Endlessly they are circling; I don't know what this is all about. I look out the window and hear police sirens and see flashing blue and red lights, too. And the buzzing and chucking of police helicopters over empty streets in the dead of night continues.
I googled the local radio stations and found nothing. The roaring and chucking continues. Next I called the L.A.P.D. They wanted to know what crime I wanted to report and I told them my neighborhood sounds like a war zone and it's so bad I can't sleep, and would they be able to tell me what's going on? Should I be alarmed? It sounds like 9/11 all over again, I told them. The lady got my address and looked up ongoing police activity in the area. She said the only crime in my area was a report of a man screaming on a nearby highway.
"But would you guys send a whole police helicopter just for that?"
"Yes, all the time," the lady politely told me.
Life in Los Angeles.
Even the police activity in this city has all the flash of a Hollywood production. This city really would send a helicopter - and it must cost a lot to send - over to some guy screaming on a highway. And for all this, I've actually never encountered a crime in this city, yet I've lived here for three years.
But maybe it's related to series of events in Los Angeles that really intrigue me.
And maybe they all have something to do with this city's proclivity for putting on productions, as everyone from Hollywood film producers to the L.A. cops do. Los Angeles is a city of productions. Instead of building many big fancy monuments - projections of civic greatness (although there are a few here and there) - this city more famous for its highways exists to put on productions.
It has one important aspect. Putting on productions requires stars.
It's significant that Los Angeles' roster stars, along with its productions, seem to be extending well beyond Hollywood's output.
Two big ones have arrived in Los Angeles in the past few weeks. First, soccer great David Beckham of England, whose ferocious talent and straightforward play have delighted everyone who watches him. He's the inspiration for the terrific movie "Bend It Like Beckham" and probably others, and he's still got some good playing years ahead. It will be so fun to have the opportunity to watch him live. It's an intriguing stretch that he's decided to come to a place so far away from the world's great soccer capitals. What great fortune he's landed in Los Angeles!
Now, a hot young Venezuelan orchestra conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, age 26, a brilliant product of Venezuela's state youth orchestra program which has been going strong for three decades, has announced he'll come to Los Angeles to conduct the Philharmonic. Dudamel's probably the most sought-after classical music talent in the world, with orchestras fiercely competing for his presence.
Yes, I intend to go see and enjoy both of them.
It's probably not all that surprising that either of them chose Los Angeles, given the breezy and sort of original and glamorous quality of life here, side by side with its unabashed consumerism. The city has come a long way from its earlier zenith as a producer of entertainment to make everything a fancy production now. With that, it can be expected to attract the only purpose of productions, more talent, and from more areas than anyone can forecast. I look forward to seeing a lot more of this as the city spreads out in its forte of making everything out there, even a nut screaming on a freeway, into a production.