Observing Los Angeles

Is L.A. 'not very pretty'?

Michael Newman, the Times' deputy opinion editor from out of town, thinks so after running yesterday's marathon. He particularly seems to not much like Boyle Heights, Koreatown or the sections of lesser downtown he refers to as "the warehouses of South-Central."

And the freeways! We ran over or under them at least 10 times, though after about mile 22 I was a little woozy and they all kind of merged together, as they tend to do anyway.

So I think I speak with some authority, if not much originality, when I say that much of Los Angeles isn't very pretty. There's only one way this race can be saved: Like a visiting relative from Wisconsin, it must be sent to the beach.

Yes, there would be logistical challenges, and some neighborhoods may object to losing their place along the beaten path. Far more likely, however, is that places would complain about being included. But the ocean, with its cool breezes, is pretty much the best thing this city has going for it.

Daily News editorial writer Mariel Garza reams him at her blog, suddenly reincarnated after being dead since last August.

Sometimes it takes a kick in the butt to unblock the writer's block. For that I have to thank Michael Newman, one of the many mid-level editors at the Times from Away who are so keen to tell Angelenos how crappy their city is....This morning he wrote in the occasional bizarre non-editorial editorial series, Our So-Cal Life, about what he learned running the L.A. Marathon yesterday. And what he learned was this: Much of the city is unattractive and the L.A. Marathon should be held at the beach, because it's the only thing this homely city has going for it.

Now, I understand that pretty all in the eyes of the beholder, but I can't help think that Newman just doesn't get out much. Or maybe he's looking for beauty that defines another city that's not Los Angeles. But it was the flip and patronizing tone of the piece really annoyed me, and got me to writing on a blog that I'd abandoned last summer. Maybe it's because I've had to listen to one-too-many New Yorkers who spend their time in L.A. complaining how you can't get a good bagel here that I snapped. Maybe it's because I don't care much for bagels and would rather have a decent tortilla. Whatever.

These constant hits make me feel bad for my city, which I happen to think is one of the most spectacularly eye-poppingly beautiful places in the world, plastic bags and bulky items and all. What did L.A. do to deserve the fate of having the West Coast's only national paper hate it so much?

Newman came in 2005 from the New York Times (where he was op-ed editor) to reunite with Opinion Editor Andrés Martinez.

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