From the perspective of a European, Los Angeles is the opposite of our old metropolises. The sprawling multi-dimensionality is alien, and for many, gets on our nerves: the tangled network of highways and the constant driving around (damn you, General Motors streetcar scandal!), the emphasized nonchalance and never ending optimism of everyone, the sunny weather, the ingenious modernist architecture, the film industry, the tourists and the shitty art museums … perhaps, just perhaps everything about this city gets on our nerves. Despite, or maybe because of all of this, L.A. is a fucking awesome city, both in the Biblical sense and the slang sense. This staggering awesomeness is fucking undeniable.
We wanted to meet Ed Ruscha to talk about his mysteriously seductive and motionless-looking reductive paintings. Unfortunately it didn’t work out, but his piece “Hollywood is a verb” inspired the three different titles/cover variations of this issue. We would also have liked to see David Hockney, who fled the austerity and grey oppression of England (an early Brexit) to Los Angeles to discover a sunny and hedonistic city. No dice there, either. But hey!, in a town like L.A. and on a production like Slanted’s, not everything has to work out. Often, the best things happen when they’re not planned, just as they did here.
We hung out with the wonderful actor Udo Kier and learned a lot about Hollywood and his life. We spent a superb evening with Sarah Lorenzen and her husband, photographer David Hartwell, who meticulously restored the Neutra VDL Studio and Residences, the home of architect Richard Neutra, and a number of other luminaries.
Our partner-in-crime Ian Lynam introduced us to tons of great designers, artists and teachers, who all—really, all—when asked where their allegiance lies: with N.Y. or L.A., yelled “L.A.!!!” without batting an eyelid. We knew that numerous German intellectuals chose L.A. as a refuge from the Nazis. Among them were Bertolt Brecht, Marlene Dietrich, Fritz Lang, Heinrich and Thomas Mann, and Billy Wilder. Artists from other countries found their home here, as well. Luis Buñuel, Jean Renoir, Igor Stravinsky, Arturo Toscanini and many others took up residency in Tinseltown. The emigrants made the Los Angeles of the 1940s a lively centre of European culture. They lived their individual and collective dreams … because it was possible.
And it’s true. Everything seems to be possible in L.A., and thus, America, even if today seen with a deeper irony and a hyper-acuity to the politics, the sleaze, and the darkness.
After our time in Los Angeles, we left the horizontal city behind us and headed east through the Nevada desert, on roads as if pulled invisibly and intangibly away from a place that brought tears to our eyes: that city on the Pacific which might just be the end of the world.