"Los Angeles is the capital of the Third World"

The Third World has always been a good place to visit, in my experience. But I doubt I would want to live there. And it is pretty damn unlikely I would ever raise children there.

Los Angeles!

At 01:08 PM 4/22/97 -0700, you wrote:
>I feel compelled to write to you with regard to your apparent distaste for a place where I have lived my entire life of 28 years. And as I sit here, in my office, with piles of work everywhere, I look out my window and say, "...looks like another perfect day." I don't normally quote song lyrics from Randy Newsman, but that one lyric certainly comes to my mind frequently as I live, work and play here every day. The climate here is consistently fantastic, and I am affirmed that fact daily when speaking to associates from different parts of the country. In fact, when asked by one of my associates from New Jersey more than 2 years ago, a couple of days after the Northridge earthquake(which, by the way, prompted me to start smoking again after quitting for 6 months) why I still lived, and loved living in Los Angeles, I responded by telling her that just yesterday, I went out to the beach and rode my bicycle for about an hour and it was sunny and warm. May I remind you that the Northridge earthquake occured in January and my associate was, at that time, dealing with a vicious snow storm that was wreaking havoc on the east coast. I enjoy the fact that I can go without wearing a jacket outside 9 months out of the year.

>I must also address the gang issue you bring up, and the apparent extreme violence associated with L.A. I personally grew up in Pacoima. My parents migrated from Mexico to L.A. a year before I was born. There was a gang war that had been raging between my neighborhood and a neighborhood I had to go in to every sunday for mass. I, and many, not all, but many of my friends never became gang members. I must admit, we were trouble-makers in the neighborhood, but somehow we felt it was not COOL to be a cholo. I do admit being an angry, aggressive youth myself as a result of having to live with the sometimes ominous threat of violence, but I do feel that in most poor, economically depressed neighborhoods across the country there is that threat. I learned to steer clear of certain gang members the same way I learned to avoid bullies in school. Same thing. I had to deal with black gangs just a mile away as well. That was a little more frightening for me as a kid, because I saw a black gang member shoot another black gangster, while riding a horse(this was more than a decade before the term drive-by shooting was ever heard)!

>I would like to conclude this by saying that I do find it unfortunate that you feel strongly against living here in Los Angeles. I cannot imagine living anywhere else, though. This city has given me ample opportunities to better myself and my standard of living. Los Angeles is a unique area. As one author wrote, and his name escapes me now, "Los Angeles is the Third World Capital of the world." I don't feel that, being a Mexican-American, I would have had the same opportunities elsewhere, save for a few cities south of L.A., and Houston.

>I do thank you for your time and I welcome any comments.


>Permanent L.A. resident.

      Dear Phillip,

      I agree with you about Los Angeles in only one respect: the weather is hard to beat. As a little kid, I lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I don't think at this point I would survive one winter back there!

      Now life is life, and home is where you hang your hat. If I were forced to live again in Hollywood or Pico-Union, or any of those places around downtown again, I could do it. But let me think about what I would be returning to: inferior schools, pervasive drugs, crowded traffic, violent crime, trash in the streets, very few parks or public areas to exercise, many people driving without auto insurance, etc. etc. etc. I found Los Angeles to be an exciting place to be a college student or young person, but in term of offering a healthy place to be a parent or mature adult... you gotta be kidding me!

      Do you honestly think that the Los Angeles Unified School District does not deserve its reputation as one of the worst school systems in the country? I recently read an article saying that Los Angeles was the second worst place in the country to raise a child in the whole country behind only Las Vegas. Few after school sports, high rates of violence, the Hollywood industry and the superficiality and drugs, inferior and overwhelmed schools... the study spelled everything out that I had seen first hand and knew to be true in my gut. Even in the few other places I have lived outside of the core of Los Angeles, I could tell it was better.

      The traditional American way has been to be not poor and not be rich. Where is the middle-class in Los Angeles? You have a few rich and about a billion very poor people and I never wanted to be either of those. I have no children myself, but being a teacher is a little like being a parent and any problems in the community directly affect me. And it looks truly doubtful as if Los Angeles is going to change much in the near future.

      You say as a Mexican-American you could not find a better place than Los Angeles. I cannot help but wonder if as a human being you should almost demand more from a place and leave if it could not provide it. And especially if you want to have a family (if you don't already have one). I suspect it was similar reasoning which prompted your parents to emigrate from Mexico to the United States in the first place.

      I have lived in Barcelona, Spain, and it was paradise. I have lived and visited many other places in the world and the United States and Los Angeles as a city pales in comparison with them. I just return from Hong Kong, and I leave for Chile in 9 days and life there is almost universally more agreeable, less harsh and violent - even in Santiago the capital which is another big city. I have been to Buenos Aires which has much less violence and an uncomparably better atmosphere than Los Angeles, even though there is much more poverty!

      Los Angeles can be a dynamic place for business, entertainment industry, trade, etc. and people truly can like their life in Los Angeles if that is what they are into. They can like Los Angeles even as it lacks any center or sense of charm that cities like Paris, San Francisco, London, Boston, and even New York in its own bizarre way fairly exude. And if you are young and single, Santa Monica, the South Bay, and many other places can look pretty appealing. But so many other parts of Los Angeles... well, I think if you are a family oriented person and want the best for your kids, it is pretty much a dog. What do you for schools? Send your child to an inferior public school or spend a fortune for a private school? Since I am just about your age, such questions become important for me. I say this even as it is a beautiful day today out my window in southern California.

      I speak fluent Spanish and when I have been in Charlotte, NC, for example, I have missed not being able to get a good carne asada in Pico-Union or authentic plate of kimchi in Koreatown. But I would give that up in order to live in a more agreeable place. The Third World has always been a good place to visit, in my experience. But I doubt I would want to live there. And it is pretty damn unlikely I would ever raise children there.

      I suggest you read the following URL's if you would like to know more about where I am coming from personally with respect to Los Angeles:

http://www.rjgeib.com/biography/hollywood/h-wood.html http://www.rjgeib.com/biography/inner-city-blues/innerblu.html

I would enjoy receiving any further comments, etc. from you.

      Very Truly Yours,

      Richard Geib

P.S. I too like to ride my bike in the sunshine, etc. but have found that possible in places other than Los Angeles.

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