BY ELIZABETH BARKER
For my 18th anniversary of living in Los Angeles I made a big list of all the L.A. things that mean a lot to me: some are memories and some are observations and some is just trash talk; all are little love stories about this place whose real name is El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula. At one point the list was 77 items long, because of The Clash, and there was stuff about the candy selection at Laurel Canyon Country Store and Kim Gordon's Black Flag earrings and the time I celeb-spotted Miss Piggy and Kermit shooting a scene in front of the Wiltern - but in the end I decided to keep it to the essential. Also: I don't know who painted that painting up above (it's hanging at El Compadre in Echo Park), but I'm so taken with the streak of pink along the mountains and the hazy glow of all the headlights pointed south. Making the freeway beautiful is a delicate and crucial art.
1. The dining room with the happiest vibes in all of L.A. is at Patra in Echo Park, where my favorite menu items include the patty melt, chorizo & egg burrito, and cake cone of strawberry ice cream. I'd also like to thank Patra for teaching me that a diagonal cut fried-egg sandwich on toasted white bread with lettuce and mayo is one of the best things this life has to offer.
2. I first moved here around the time Brown Bunny came out, and for a while there was a giant billboard of the blowjob scene right outside Chateau Marmont. On the one hand it made me feel like Lili Taylor on Six Feet Under, the part where she tells Nate Fisher: "L.A. is such a godless place." On the other hand I thought it was so exciting to live somewhere godless. For my 20th L.A. anniversary I'm totally buying myself this beautiful Conrad Haberland painting:
3. Forever grateful to Francesca Lia Block for writing about Oki Dog in the Weetzie books, so that now the sight of the swoopy/show-offy cursive on the Oki Dog menu makes everything a fairy tale:
31. Beyond having a favorite restaurant and donut shop and taco stand in Los Angeles, it's important to have a favorite freeway exit, incense vendor, pier, bougainvillea blob, star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. My favorite star is David Bowie's; I went for the first time the morning after he died, and someone had left him red peppers & milk.
33. Along with Dave Navarro & his Slurpee, one person who fully embodies the spirit of L.A. for me is Christine McVie drinking a glass of white wine on the field at Dodger Stadium in the video for "Tusk":
34. Over the course of making this post I've started questioning why I'm such a manic proponent of walking in L.A., and I think it's got to do with the experience of deliberate and pleasurable solitude. People who moved here from New York are always giving you that line about how in New York you just walk down the street and run into a friend or somebody you've got the hots for, and then you duck into a bar and end up spending the whole night there and it's such wild serendipitous fun. Which truly sounds wonderful and always makes me envious, but that's not what walking in L.A. does for you. For the most part walking in L.A. means being on your own, and if you work it just right it can ease you into a state of heightened attention and sustained fascination. Your brain shuts off a little and you just zone out on the juxtaposition of neon and sky, the coconuts and churros and avocados and mangos for sale on the sidewalk, the crazy perfume of jasmine and gasoline and al pastor roasting on the big spit with the pineapple on top. It's a state in which it's spiritually incorrect to listen to a podcast, and I value that more and more all the time. I want my head full of flowers not takes.
35. My all-time fave song with L.A. in the title is "L.A. Mist" by The Sharp Ease. Lately my favorite L.A. music is "Heavy Metal" by Paris Texas, who are from Compton. Part of the reason it feels like L.A. is it never stops surprising me, I never get used to it, it always manages to rattle and delight me in equal measure.
36. This is a playlist of other songs that feel like Los Angeles to me. But it doesn't include the song that feels most like L.A.-like, which is Iggy Pop and David Bowie doing "Funtime" on The Dinah Shore Show in 1977. I love how it obliterates any of the slickness of the original and takes on this off-the-rails energy that's kind of dopey and galumphing but still so glamorous. It makes me want to write a story where at the beginning the main character says "Hey I feel lucky tonight, I'm gonna get stoned and run around" and absolutely means it.