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LA, my cyberpunk city.

I’ve started ‘fessing up to where I live when I travel to conventions. The result is usually the same: people say “Oh,” give me an appraising look like they’re trying to decide if they can get away with what they’re about to say, and then announce, “I’ve been there a few times. To be honest, I didn’t really like it.”

I got news for you: I don’t really like it.

I don’t like the trash, the wall to floor to sky concrete, and how the plants all look like they’re dying of thirst, but trying to make it anyway. I hate the vampiric nature of the city – how many people flock to its streets with little more than their dreams and become the lifeblood for the rich and influential to feed on.

But here’s what I realized a few years ago: LA is also a city full of rebels. It’s something you might not notice unless you got out of your car and walked the streets, or, better yet, got an LA native to show you around. There’s an attitude you pick up – we’re all being run into the ground and barely making ends meet, someone’s out to make money on me, and I might give it all up tomorrow… but also, fight me.

That fight we’re all spoiling for takes different forms. Some people protest, others do the back-breaking work of policy reform. Me, I see the signs of rebellion in the art. Not just the violence of graffiti tags or the warnings sprayed in stencils, but the murals so beautiful they take your breath away.

In a society where the bottom line is everything, building something beautiful and putting it in a public space, free of charge, is an act of rebellion. It spits in the face of a system that thinks a person’s value is determined by the number at the bottom of their paycheck.

That’s what I like about LA.