The outposts of Hauser & Wirth, the Swiss gallery, give off an incredible sense of privacy. One on 69th Street in Manhattan suggests the office of an algorithmic hedge fund with a single website. The London bar is a black-clad thing on Savile Row, close to the three-star sushi bar favored by the oligarchs and the (local bohemia franchise) Vivienne Westwood.
So consider the LA branch. So airy and colorful is this white building, located between the train lines and the supposed river of the city, I once entered it by mistake. With much less than a local collector class to serve, it is bound to have the democratic character of a museum, not a gallery.
The absence of that superior class is one reason why LA is often denied world status. The concept of a global city or an “alpha” city is vague, but most of the rankings, given their economic and cultural weight, put London and New York in a group of two, with Paris and Tokyo catching up. . LA did not make the top 10 compiled by real estate agents Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank (Zurich), or by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (Beijing). A more culturally biased list by Tokyo Urban Research Institute admits Berlin but does not acknowledge LA.
Then you are conscious of my duty here. To liken LA as an alpha city feels so intrusive that, even here in Silver Lake, I still look over my shoulder as I write. But I’m spoiled for lines of argument. Entertainment is an industry stronger than banking, if by power we mean shaping global tastes and habits. With the largest container port in the Western Hemisphere, LA’s position at the heart of world trade was something shoppers soon discovered the hard and expensive way. More than a third, its foreign-born population is comparable to that of London and New York. In 2019, reaching its artistic peak, it joined both of those cities on the Hurt electrical circuit.
It will grow closer to the outside world over time. In terms of the raw weight of international traffic, LAX can’t be Heathrow or even Changi, but it’s being revamped to get out of its current state of disrepair for the next Olympic Games. If Zoom replaces business travel because of favorable, geographically remote conditions, the harsh argument against living here would be a little less important anyway. And it’s not as if New York were a lily land from which to roam happily: with Mexico close at hand, LA is closer to a country with another native language.
The reasons to fit in LA are at least Parisian pay-as-you-go mounting and sticking until – putting this down to the paranoia caused by all the legal weeds here – I start to question the partial. Or rather a blind spot. Opinion-forming elites, sometimes even non-Western ones, are often in the North Atlantic in their education and reference point. Their perception of a city facing Asia is correspondingly weak.
It wouldn’t matter if it didn’t reveal a broader lack of mental readiness for the modern world. Here is a quiz: guess the population of Vietnam. Even the most traveled and read people I know don’t understand that the correct answer, at about 100m, also applies to the Philippines. Both communities are present in large numbers in and around LA. Even before we count Koreatown, and not one but two Little Tokyos, LA has qualified among Asian cities outside of Asia. It’s certainly a better place than London or New York from which to feel the pull of what could be the world’s largest continent. do not have China.
Sometimes, there’s nothing like NY-Lon’s definition of “global”. It is deplorable to shape LA as the flashy capital of the world and beyond. Yes, motivated to describe Merois in West Hollywood when serving dinner, my product is “in-house Baywatch“. But the container crisis alone should have highlighted LA’s broader strategic value. Much of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet, which may or may not be seriously used in the coming years, is in coastal San Diego.
The miracle is that the locals themselves don’t beat the drums more. If British complacency is an assertion of superiority, so is Angeleno’s lack of touch, sometimes even curiosity, about their city’s place in the world. LA’s best claim to club membership is that they don’t want to join.
Email Janan at the address firstname.lastname@example.org
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