Posts tagged "Cityporn"

Los Angeles from the Getty. (My photo.) It goes on forever.

Los Angeles from the Getty. (My photo.) It goes on forever.


naysayersspeak:

theatlantic:

The West Coast is toast. Why is L.A. always getting blown up in the movies, while New York gets to host some of the greatest love stories of all time?

This weekend it will happen for what feels like the hundredth time: The  left coast will again be “toast.” A platoon of Marines will take on  alien invaders in the new film, Battle: Los Angeles.  Having watched my city blow up again and again in the trailers, I got  to thinking: Why is it that L.A. looks best when it’s hosting an  apocalypse and is seldom the backdrop for romance? With so many love  stories set in Manhattan, and so few in Southern California, filmmakers  appear to be sending a message: New York is the place to fall in love,  but L.A. is the place to die.

Read more at The Atlantic, and read our countdown of the five most destructive scenes set in L.A. and five most romantic set in New York.

More importantly, why are so many (or most?) TV shows and movies set in LA and New York. There’s a whole lot of the US left unrepresented in film and TV, or rarely represented.  (Yes, this is Jonathan’s rant, but I’m stealing it).

It’s my rant, but it’s one others should feel welcome to steal. The basic argument is detailed here, and can be expressed as “Sure, set your show in NYC or LA if it suits the show, but don’t put your characters in one of those cities because you think that’s the only place witty, young urbanites exist.”
However, instead of reiterating a point I’ve already made, I’ll augment it with a related complaint: the practice of continually using New York or L.A. as a generic setting for American television doesn’t just harm the many cities it ignores, it also is damaging to the metropolises on which it does focus. Because New York and Los Angeles are not generic. They are cities with a distinct and fascinating local culture and feel, and expecting them to act as faceless locations to contain quip-spouting twenty-somethings who love and live and engage in hijinks and pratfalls obscures their actual idiosyncrasies. 
Take, for instance, “The Big Bang Theory.” This is set in the Los Angeles area — Pasadena, to be precise — but it could be set in any reasonably-sized city in the country with a university. There’s nothing notably Californian about the show either; it uses the L.A. area as a stand in for anywhere in America, even though it’s not.
How much more satisfying is it, though, when the real Los Angeles actually comes alive as a city on screen? This is something I enjoy so much about Chinatown: it’s a Los Angeles movie that treats Los Angeles as a distinctive urban locale rather than a generic city. (Yes, I understand the futility in comparing Chinatown with the Big Bang Theory, but in this case I’m just talking about the different uses of setting.)
Another example: The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Both could be culprits of using Los-Angeles-as-Nowhere, but Knocked Up justifies its setting far better than Virgin. For a start, Katherine Heigl’s character’s job as a celebrity interviewer isn’t necessary to the plot, but it does offer the film some justification for being set in L.A. Later, there are scenes acknowledging the distinctive way people must travel in Los Angeles, that is, by taking long car rides, and having long, cramped discussions on the way. (See the Atlantic article linked above and its discussion of the lack of L.A. romances: “And where does great dialogue take place? While people are in parks, or walking … not stuck in traffic.”) The theme suits Los Angeles as well; the interactions between Seth Rogen’s slacker existence and Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s suburban marital life benefit from being portrayed in a city where the suburbs exist everywhere and for everyone — married or single. Knocked Up closes with Loudon Wainwright singing “Gray in L.A.” as the camera hovers over freeway traffic. This has earned its status as an L.A. film.
40 Year Old Virgin, however, could be set anywhere. It follows a group of people who work at an electronics store, and a woman who owns a small business across the road. These things exist all across America. It could have been set in Miami or Milwaukee, Pittsburgh or Phoenix, San Antonio or Seattle. Forcing Los Angeles to become nowheresville for the film’s run time diminishes both. 

naysayersspeak:

theatlantic:

The West Coast is toast. Why is L.A. always getting blown up in the movies, while New York gets to host some of the greatest love stories of all time?

This weekend it will happen for what feels like the hundredth time: The left coast will again be “toast.” A platoon of Marines will take on alien invaders in the new film, Battle: Los Angeles. Having watched my city blow up again and again in the trailers, I got to thinking: Why is it that L.A. looks best when it’s hosting an apocalypse and is seldom the backdrop for romance? With so many love stories set in Manhattan, and so few in Southern California, filmmakers appear to be sending a message: New York is the place to fall in love, but L.A. is the place to die.

Read more at The Atlantic, and read our countdown of the five most destructive scenes set in L.A. and five most romantic set in New York.

More importantly, why are so many (or most?) TV shows and movies set in LA and New York. There’s a whole lot of the US left unrepresented in film and TV, or rarely represented.  (Yes, this is Jonathan’s rant, but I’m stealing it).

It’s my rant, but it’s one others should feel welcome to steal. The basic argument is detailed here, and can be expressed as “Sure, set your show in NYC or LA if it suits the show, but don’t put your characters in one of those cities because you think that’s the only place witty, young urbanites exist.”

However, instead of reiterating a point I’ve already made, I’ll augment it with a related complaint: the practice of continually using New York or L.A. as a generic setting for American television doesn’t just harm the many cities it ignores, it also is damaging to the metropolises on which it does focus. Because New York and Los Angeles are not generic. They are cities with a distinct and fascinating local culture and feel, and expecting them to act as faceless locations to contain quip-spouting twenty-somethings who love and live and engage in hijinks and pratfalls obscures their actual idiosyncrasies. 

Take, for instance, “The Big Bang Theory.” This is set in the Los Angeles area — Pasadena, to be precise — but it could be set in any reasonably-sized city in the country with a university. There’s nothing notably Californian about the show either; it uses the L.A. area as a stand in for anywhere in America, even though it’s not.

How much more satisfying is it, though, when the real Los Angeles actually comes alive as a city on screen? This is something I enjoy so much about Chinatown: it’s a Los Angeles movie that treats Los Angeles as a distinctive urban locale rather than a generic city. (Yes, I understand the futility in comparing Chinatown with the Big Bang Theory, but in this case I’m just talking about the different uses of setting.)

Another example: The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Both could be culprits of using Los-Angeles-as-Nowhere, but Knocked Up justifies its setting far better than Virgin. For a start, Katherine Heigl’s character’s job as a celebrity interviewer isn’t necessary to the plot, but it does offer the film some justification for being set in L.A. Later, there are scenes acknowledging the distinctive way people must travel in Los Angeles, that is, by taking long car rides, and having long, cramped discussions on the way. (See the Atlantic article linked above and its discussion of the lack of L.A. romances: “And where does great dialogue take place? While people are in parks, or walking … not stuck in traffic.”) The theme suits Los Angeles as well; the interactions between Seth Rogen’s slacker existence and Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s suburban marital life benefit from being portrayed in a city where the suburbs exist everywhere and for everyone — married or single. Knocked Up closes with Loudon Wainwright singing “Gray in L.A.” as the camera hovers over freeway traffic. This has earned its status as an L.A. film.

40 Year Old Virgin, however, could be set anywhere. It follows a group of people who work at an electronics store, and a woman who owns a small business across the road. These things exist all across America. It could have been set in Miami or Milwaukee, Pittsburgh or Phoenix, San Antonio or Seattle. Forcing Los Angeles to become nowheresville for the film’s run time diminishes both. 


theskyisballing:

The oldest color photo of San Francisco, taken in 1906 shortly after the earthquake.

theskyisballing:

The oldest color photo of San Francisco, taken in 1906 shortly after the earthquake.


But Seattle specifically vs. other cities because it’s a city of contradictions. It’s a city on the edge of civilization. It’s beautiful skies, the frigid Puget Sound that’ll kill you if you fall into it. The most liberal, the most literate city in America. The hunting grounds of the Green River Killer. So there’s black and there’s white and there’s tragedy and there’s beauty in almost everything, just in that one place, that serves as the backdrop.

-Veena Sud, producer of “The Killing” on AMC. Read the rest of the interview here.

ohnomrsa:

…I’m homesick and I miss my city.

barthel:

Seattle does have a very particular feel to it.  It’s fun to think of cities as video game levels: New York would be the underground level, Miami would be the ocean level, LA would be the giant level, Chicago would be the pipes level, Phoenix would be the desert level, and Seattle would be the forest level.  The things that will kill you in Seattle aren’t extra-human mutants like in New York, or all-American parodies like in LA - they’re coated in moss and quiet and vanish back into the forest after they do what they do.

I would play the fuck out of an early ’90s scrolling platformer based on American cities. God that’d be awesome. 

Re: the original quote, my standard description of Seattle for people who don’t know the city is that there are three kinds of Seattleites: Microsoft tech geeks, bleeding heart liberal hippies, and gun-toting rednecks. Which are the ones who keep Starbucks in business, you may ask? All of them.

(Of course, this is reductive, and when I think about my actual Seattle friends, very few of them fit into any of those categories. But I’m still pretty satisfied with my PNW stereotypes.)


pseudocolin:

Population change in Seattle 2000-2010 (US Census data). Read more / see more cities.

Pseudocolin posted a bunch of these, but I’m just going to reblog one of them. I guess the big growth in the Seattle area has been out in the far northeastern and southeastern suburbs of the city, which isn’t very surprising. It would be nice from an urban planning point of view if the density round downtown could increase a bit faster, however. I’m interested also in that big red patch between Lake Washington and Lake Union; isn’t that Husky Stadium? I guess there was student housing or something there ten years ago.
If you enjoy cityporn, clicking the read more link would be a good idea. There are maps of other cities, as well as an interesting post dissecting the maps.

pseudocolin:

Population change in Seattle 2000-2010 (US Census data). Read more / see more cities.

Pseudocolin posted a bunch of these, but I’m just going to reblog one of them. I guess the big growth in the Seattle area has been out in the far northeastern and southeastern suburbs of the city, which isn’t very surprising. It would be nice from an urban planning point of view if the density round downtown could increase a bit faster, however. I’m interested also in that big red patch between Lake Washington and Lake Union; isn’t that Husky Stadium? I guess there was student housing or something there ten years ago.

If you enjoy cityporn, clicking the read more link would be a good idea. There are maps of other cities, as well as an interesting post dissecting the maps.


amberguessa:

nerdling:

amberguessa:

screwrocknroll:

Forget the Alamo!

LOL
Seriously, though, forget it.
I promise you, it’s not as impressive as you imagine and a visit to it would only end in disappointment.
Unless, of course, you’re Phil Collins.

Ha! I’ve been to the Alamo so many times, and it’s freakin’ boring. The other missions outside of SA are much more interesting.

More interesting and were actual missions.
Plus, the River Walk is a much better downtown attraction.
AND the North West side is the new tourist-y area.

Look at all these people dropping knowledge about my silly “Simpsons” screencap! Recommendations on what to do in San Antonio, as well as advice on what you should do if you ever wake up as Phil Collins!

amberguessa:

nerdling:

amberguessa:

screwrocknroll:

Forget the Alamo!

LOL

Seriously, though, forget it.

I promise you, it’s not as impressive as you imagine and a visit to it would only end in disappointment.

Unless, of course, you’re Phil Collins.

Ha! I’ve been to the Alamo so many times, and it’s freakin’ boring. The other missions outside of SA are much more interesting.

More interesting and were actual missions.

Plus, the River Walk is a much better downtown attraction.

AND the North West side is the new tourist-y area.

Look at all these people dropping knowledge about my silly “Simpsons” screencap! Recommendations on what to do in San Antonio, as well as advice on what you should do if you ever wake up as Phil Collins!


Penultimo: low density blues

In the inner city, people can live, shop, relax and go to school all in the same location and often their workplace is nearby as well. In the suburbs, however, they may live in one suburb, work in another, shop in a third and send their children to school in a fourth.

This means that outer urban areas are often less “fine-grained” than inner urban ones – I don’t mean this pejoratively, but in the sense that social activity takes place over a much larger geographic range in car-based low-density suburbs.

This makes it difficult to write about place without writing about a wider region (thus ending up with the sorts of “issues” blogs I mentioned earlier) – or conversely, writing about stuff that may be way too local, like what your neighbours are up to. Indeed, the “communities” that many suburban dwellers belong to are not spatially based at all – an outcome that ironically is now being facilitated by the same sort of technology that makes place blogging possible.

Alex Gooding, “Suburbs and the Art of Place Blogging,” Gooding Davies, April 11, 2011 (via penultimo)

My thoughts aren’t coherent enough to really explain why I’m posting this, but basically, though it was written about place-blogging, I got distracted thinking about songs about cities and also suburbs in general.

So, there’s that.

4
Apr 27

mattpayton:

- Duncan Jones : Interview
That’s just sad. We need to step up our game, Chicagoland. 

I know why I’m reblogging this, however! It’s because I like cities, and also I like stories about how sometimes entertainment can’t be realistic because occasionally real stuff is so fake that you have to use fake stuff to make it seem more real.
Sadly, I’m such a nerd that I know the TV Tropes name for this phenomenon. It is “Aluminum Christmas Trees.”
EDIT: I don’t like when people misspell “highfalutin” though.

mattpayton:

Duncan Jones : Interview

That’s just sad. We need to step up our game, Chicagoland. 

I know why I’m reblogging this, however! It’s because I like cities, and also I like stories about how sometimes entertainment can’t be realistic because occasionally real stuff is so fake that you have to use fake stuff to make it seem more real.

Sadly, I’m such a nerd that I know the TV Tropes name for this phenomenon. It is “Aluminum Christmas Trees.”

EDIT: I don’t like when people misspell “highfalutin” though.


EMA - California (Past Life Martyred Saints, 2011)

"Fuck California, you made me boring."

-Erika M. Anderson, “California,” Past Life Martyred Saints (2011)

I know a place where the grass is really greener.

-Katy Perry, “California Gurls,” Teenage Dream (2010)

I loved the way she said “L.A.”; I love the way everybody says “L.A.” on the Coast; it’s their one and only golden town when all is said and done.

-Sal Paradise in Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957)

"We’ve been on the run, driving in the sun."

-Phantom Planet, “California,” The Guest (2002)

"There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda … You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning…”

-Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

"Now you’ve corrupted us all with your sexuality, tried to tell us love was free."

-EMA, “California,” Past Life Martyred Saints (2011)

"Sun-kissed skin, so hot we’ll melt your popsicle."

-Katy Perry, “California Gurls,” Teenage Dream (2010)

"Perry’s ouevre is nasty, sticky and a little bit stupid; it’s a kind of Hello Kitty-themed update on Carry On; fruit-scented lube on a rather imposing black dildo. It works perfectly because the American ideal of the teenager - wholesome and optimistic - is of course at odds with its reality of unprotected sex and casual drug use. Teenage Dream takes American Graffiti and drives it through the front window of Toys R Us. In an age where we wring our hands about sexualising teens/tweens, this former Christian Contemporary artist’s fetishising (remember, she’s marrying a noted sexaholic) of teenagerdom, the great American invention, is arguably more subversive than any of Lady Gaga’s meat dresses."

-Clem Bastow

"Everything that happens in California seems to get down our way, sooner or later."

-A Georgian police officer in Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

"Everything about Perry seems to hark back to some golden age of American triumph; she looks and dresses like she should be painted on the nose of a World War Two bomber, or an extra in an early-sixties beach movie, or framed as a piece of Pop Art. Her singles dominated much of this past summer, and the album that followed, Teenage Dream, made being young, drunk, and starry-eyed sound incredibly wholesome — as if Girls Gone Wild videos long ago joined baseball, apple pie, water parks, and early Mellencamp in the canon of Americana."

-Nitsuh Abebe

"…they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

-The United States Declaration of Independence (1776)

"California not über-alles but as über-America: the country heading west in pursuit of happiness until it strands itself teetering at the end of the continent like Wile E. Coyote overrunning a cliff’s edge.”

-Me on Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” The Singles Jukebox, June 3, 2010

"I can see that blue room in Fargo, North Dakota with an American flag draped over a basement window. It’s a soldier’s room; got sent away. We stayed up for days in the summer on Merezine, and Ephedrine, and Benedryl, Dramamine, and Ketamine, and Nyquil, and Dextromethorpin, and Hydrobromide. And the light shining in through the window was golden, and the days stretched out as far as the horizon and you could see the dust float like sparkles in the air."

-Erika M. Anderson of Gowns, “Fargo,” Red State (2007)

"When you listen you can tell that it could have only been recorded in a shit-ass meat-packing city in the Midwest where people shoot crank mixed with grape Kool-Aid and the grocery checkers don’t even know what tofu is and all there is to do is get shit-faced at the bar and ask everyone how their kids are doing.”

-Erika M. Anderson on Red State, quoted in Mike Powell’s review of the album at Pitchfork.

"I’m sorry Stephen and Andrew that I ever left you; you never seen the ocean, you never been on a plane … What’s it like to be small town and gay?"

-EMA, “California,” Past Life Martyred Saints (2011)

"At the end of the continent."

-R.E.M. “I Remember California,” Green (1988)

"Crash and burn, all the stars explode tonight. How’d you get so desperate; how’d you stay alive?"

-Hole, “Malibu,” Celebrity Skin (1998)

"So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

-Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

"L.A. is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities."

-Sal Paradise in Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957)

“‘Cut their goddamn heads off,’ I said. ‘That’s what we’re doing in California.’”

-Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

"You’re beautiful and dying."

-Hole, “Boys on the Radio,” Celebrity Skin (1998)

"Tombstone hand and a graveyard mind."

-Bo Diddley, “Who Do You Love” (1957)

"I’m just 22 … I don’t mind dying."

-Bo Diddley, “Who Do You Love” (1957) and EMA, “California,” Past Life Martyred Saints (2011)

"Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown."

-Lawrence Walsh, Chinatown (1974)



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