Fortunes and life

A few years ago, because curiosity took me there, I slowed my usual pace through the tunnel at Central Station and sat on a milk crate next to an old, old woman who promised me that my fortune was inscribed in my face and on my hands. Her name was Amy and she was 92. […]

Thesis Snippets: place is an archive

I’m still close enough to my parked car to press the keypad to double-check it is locked, and already history is inscribed and readable in the landscape. Of course, it isn’t readable in the open-a-book-in-your-native-tongue-and-effortlessly-read sense of the word. Rather, it is readable in the way that makes history such a richly engaging discipline, where […]

Thesis Snippets: Rivers and making better

Restoration isn’t about taking a riverscape back to a set point when all was well, as is the popular view of restoration. It isn’t fixing up. It isn’t undoing what was done. Rather, it is about changing the direction in which a river’s becoming moves, by intervening in both the geomorphic and socio-cultural landscapes of […]

Thesis snippets: who are you, Los Angeles?

The interplay of perfection and imperfection has long characterised writing about Los Angeles. In a guide to the city in the 1930s, the project supervisor John D Keyes promised a publication which aimed ‘to present Los Angeles truthfully and objectively, neither glorifying it or vilifying it.’ He goes on to lament that ‘for many decades […]

Thesis snippets: rivers and their many faces

My very earliest forays into discovering the Los Angeles River, from a distance in Australia, had me thinking that it was all wide, trapezoidal flood control channel, like in the film Grease where Danny and Leo race hot-rods along the downtown stretch, their respective admirers watching on, every shot filled from edge to edge with […]

Thesis snippets: the saving grace of water

Water has been the river’s saving grace. This may seem obvious, rivers and water are surely inextricably linked. So let me be a little more precise. The visible manifestations of water, and the life enabled by them, have allowed the Los Angeles River to survive extreme human alteration. Acres of concrete, without water, are just […]