Observing Los Angeles

Garrison Keillor learns to appreciate L.A.

The radio host and author pens a Times Op-Ed piece about showing his niece around Los Angeles, even though he did get lost for a while.

Everybody knows the comedy version of L.A. the city of skinny tanned women, cellphones in hand, driving Suburbans the size of personnel carriers at 80 mph, taking a tiny child to the therapist to address self-esteem issues.

KeillorThose jokes play well in the flat parts of the country. A Midwesterner goes to L.A. and feels a certain sense of moral disapproval. The squalor, the opulence, the expense of natural resources to support middle-class life in an arid place, the fascination with the misshapen lives of young celebs. It isn't the Canaan it was for our grandparents. We look at it and see a rundown bungalow selling for half a million and cars inching along the 405 and say, "No thanks."

But it's good to know there's another point of view. The sun does shine there, and people enjoy their lives the spirit of la pura vida, or the love of life for its own sake, the opposite of Calvinist America.

Best line: "Unrestricted immigration is a dangerous thing look at what happened to the Iroquois. They failed to impose border controls and, before they knew it, they were dying of infectious diseases they had no names for."


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