Land of Smoke and Mirrors: A Cultural History of Los Angeles

By Vincent Brook | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
LAnglos and LAGBTs

If many of the city’s Latinos and African Americans still lack economic parity, and the Asian community a political voice, its Anglo population, while no longer all-powerful, has not been left in the cold. The L. A. Times, “inventor” of the modern-day metropolis, no longer reigns supreme. The Committee of Twentyfive, an unofficial, all-white chamber of commerce that “held sway through the 1950s and early 1960s,” has long since loosened its clandestine grip. And the city of “two heads” (WASP and Jewish) has sprouted a few more, not all exclusively white.1 Yet, by the late 1990s/early 2000s, as Edward Soja and Julian Murphet pointed out, “while as many as eighty thousand homeless men and women look for shelter every night,” and “the most severe housing shortage crisis in America affects half a million more,” “the top 10 percent on the ladder of wealth is disproportionately white.”2

West magazine’s 2006 “Power Issue,” a list of the 150 people who purportedly “wield the most influence over Southern California,” affirmed the continuing Anglo tilt.3 Jewish power brokers topped the list with sixty-one individuals (40.7 percent); non-Jewish whites followed closely with fifty-seven (38 percent); Latinos were a distant third with seventeen (11.3 percent); and blacks and Asians pulled up the rear with eight (5.3 percent) and seven (4.7 percent), respectively. Taken together, according to West, whites accounted for 118 (78.7 percent) of Greater Los Angeles’s new-millennial movers and shakers. As for the gender gap, this looked familiar also: 134 powerful men (89.3 percent) to 16 women (10.7 percent).

If a power elite is what gives a city its direction, then an added geographical disparity lies in what D. J. Waldie points out in a sidebar to the “Power Issue”: that the city’s richest people “don’t all live in Los Angeles; the very rich don’t live anywhere specifically.” Power, like place, “has moved off world, so to speak—into the no-place of the Net.”4 As cyberspatial as the workings of wealth have become, the off-world rich still make their presence felt. Their power is still “divided and withheld,” and the Great White Male account of history, despite some revision, prevails—around its “primal mythmakers,” real estate developers.5 Albeit

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Land of Smoke and Mirrors: A Cultural History of Los Angeles
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iv
  • Contents viii
  • Acknowledgments x
  • Prologue 1
  • Introduction 5
  • Part One - Original Si(G)N 23
  • Chapter 1 - The Ramona Myth 25
  • Chapter 2 - Ramona Revisited 43
  • Part Two - Si(G)N City 65
  • Chapter 3 - "City with Two Heads" 67
  • Chapter 4 - What Price Hollywood? 83
  • Part Three - L.a. Noir 103
  • Chapter 5 - Bright and Guilty Place 105
  • Chapter 6 - Neo-Noir 126
  • Part Four - Multicultural L.a 151
  • Chapter 7 - Latinos 153
  • Chapter 8 - Blacks 170
  • Chapter 9 - Lasians 189
  • Chapter 10 - Langlos and Lagbts 209
  • Conclusion 233
  • Notes 243
  • Index 281
  • About the Author 303
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