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 […]

Thesis snippets: Paint, Cats, and the L.A. River

I meet Leo Limon beneath the crisp winter sun in a tiny pocket park at the end of Oros Ave in Frogtown.[1] The pocket of land is called Steelhead Park, in recognition of the river’s indicator species, a trout that was last seen in the waterway in January of 1940.[2] We had planned to meet at the […]

Thesis snippets: on closeness

We live in the shadow of a western philosophical legacy that has us convinced of humankind’s separateness from the rest of the world, rather than our integration, entanglement and kinship with it. This has real, and dire, ecological consequences. As William Cronon argues By imagining that our true home is in the wilderness, we forgive […]