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L.A. from Every Angle
Posted April 01, 2010 to photo album "L.A. from Every Angle"
As Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg shows, there are many different L.A.s inside the city limits. Joel Bleifuss takes us on the tour of how artists imagine Los Angeles.
Slide 13: L.A. for the Dreamers
John Fante (1909-1983). John Fante was an Italian-American who wrote novels but made his living as a screenwriter. Fante’s most famous novel, the autobiographical Ask the Dust (1939), is set during the depression tells the story of a writer trying to make it in L.A. In the opening pages of Ask the Dust, Fante writes, “Los Angeles, give me some of you! Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town.”
Robert Towne, who knew Fante, wrote and directed the film version of the novel Ask the Dust in 2006. Following the release of that film, Groucho Reviews interviewed Robert Towne, and the following exchange took place:
RT: When I haven’t lived in Europe and been on locations, I’ve lived in Los Angeles.
G: As you alluded to with Chinatown, you’ve plumbed quite a bit of the city’s history. What makes Los Angeles a great city, if it is, or do you just show it the same devotion you’d show a family member, warts and all?
RT: I think it’s much closer to being a family member than a great city. You know, I can’t honestly say that I ever thought, at its best, Los Angeles was a great city. I’m not even sure it is a city. But it is a climate. It is a state of being, if you will. It is a place of illusion. And so it’s in a way fitting that there’s no real city there. It’s a place where people go to to fulfill dreams, and those are the illusions that people have. It’s a land of strangers where everybody comes from somewhere else, historically has, to strike it rich in one way or another, with gold or oil and movies. And very often are disappointed. But, you know, it’s a land of sunny desperation.