Read City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles by Mike Davis Free Online
Book Title: City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles|
The author of the book: Mike Davis
ISBN 13: 9780679738060
Format files: PDF, Epub, DOCx, TXT
The size of the: 947 KB
Date of issue: March 10th 1992
Reader ratings: 8.2
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Read full description of the books City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles:
My favorite song about Los Angeles is “L.A.” by The Fall. It’s got an ominous synth line, a great guitar riff, and Mark Smith’s immortal lyrics: “L.L.L.A.A.A.L!L!L!A!A!A!” It’s the perfect soundtrack for reading this excellent book. Davis has written a social history of the LA area, which does not proceed in a linear fashion. Instead, he picks out the social history of groups that have become identified with LA: developers, suburb dwellers, gangs, the LAPD, immigrants, etc. By the end of the book, you have a real grasp on how LA got to be the way it is today.
If you’ve ever read any of Davis’ other books, you know he has an agenda, just like Howard Zinn or Ann Coulter. Davis’ information is not suspect; this book is well-sourced. However, it puts across a worldview, for which the reader must adjust accordingly. Davis writes in the post-structuralist style that was in fashion at the time. Politically, Davis is a doughy bourgeois leftist, who harbors the progressive’s Walter Mitty fantasy that he is a Bad Ass Street Rebel. If you can read past this, you can learn some absolutely fascinating info.
The longest chapter is Davis’ discussion of LA’s intellectual and cultural life. Don’t laugh. By the time you are finished with this, you will have a strange new respect for the Wasteland down south. Davis traces the groups of thinkers drawn to LA: creative people hired by Hollywood, PhD’s and engineers hired by the aerospace & defense industries; the noir novelists who created the modern detective story, cutting edge musicians, &c.
Davis also has long chapters about LA’s underlass. He traces the history of LA’s Catholic diocese, and uses it to discuss LA’s immigrant community. He also has a long discussion about LA’s gangs, and the LAPD’s campaign against them. His history of the Crips is very compelling. Davis unflinchingly details the bloody rise of the Crips, and their connection to the Black Power movement, a connection most commentators are loath to explore. Davis also gives us the rise and fall and rebirth of the town of Fontana, an honest-to-God LA steeltown that was so bluecollar that the Hell’s Angels were founded there, but which eventually became a chaotic blend (due to corrupt planning) of junkyards, truckstops and high end “second homes.” These chapters alone make this book worthwhile. Not coincidentally, they are the ones least infected by Davis’ po-mo cant.
Davis’ only false note comes in the chapter titled “Fortress L.A.” It's so filled with semiotic clichés and cultural referents as to reach the saturation point. It will be virtually unreadable by 2050. The theme is also weak. Davis argues that LA architects are creating buildings and public spaces that are intentionally meant to drive the poor and oppressed out of the city. He practically calls Frank Gehry a fascist Speer clone. He becomes especially exorcised over a South Central mini-mall, which the developer would build only after the city agreed to install an LAPD substation on the premises. Before the mall was built, ghetto folks had no place to buy food in the neighborhood, but no business would move in without some way to protect its investment. Davis finds something untoward in all of this, & rumbles darkly about the alienating design of the substation and the machinations in the mayor's office. But, the mall was so popular with the neighborhood that it made twice as much money as the equivalent suburban mall, so the people shopping there did not feel particularly oppressed by the architect. I'd say it was win-win for everyone. Davis’ worst qualities come out in this discussion, He comes across as one of those liberals who says they want to “help” the ghetto, but then throws up every possible procedural and philosophical roadblock in front of the police, developers, and bureaucrats who would have to be involved. You can easily skip this chapter, and I would suggest that you do so.
Read information about the authorSocial commentator, urban theorist, historian, and political activist. He is best known for his investigations of power and social class in his native Southern California.
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