© 2012 victoriadelgadillo

When Art Makes You Go Mad

A few days ago I was reading a blog on how to approach Los Angeles, from a writer that no longer lives here. The writer warned about not looking at Los Angeles like a ‘real’ city, because it is many cities in one; to be open to ‘exploring’; and not to be put-off by the populace constantly networking. He wrote many stereotypes, mostly on his experiences in Hollywood and West Los Angeles–including that one must never to go to downtown LA, its a total wasteland. The blog was followed by one annoying chorus of comments after another–personal stories of evil, pretentious, shallow, over crowded, uncultured, cliquish Los Angeles. There were a few polite notes too, letting the writer know about their small successes in LA, including that downtown had been renovated–fyi.

I thought I would write something clever to squash this love-to-hate fest, but decided to mull it around in my head instead. These sort of blogs and poison penned articles about LA can be found everywhere on-line, some are even horribly racist. I pondered what the real underlying problem was.

Months ago an artist I know went mad, tearing up his artwork, shouting from his studio that he was a failure. He had been in LA for about a year. Obviously, his stay didn’t pan out the way he planned it. After, his family came from Georgia to collect him. This was not my first experience with the thin line between art, madness, alcoholism and drug addiction. I have heard of it happening many times since I have lived in LA. I almost had a breakdown once myself, because I could not comply with all the art demands during an intense moment in my life. Thank goodness for supportive friends who have seen it all and give the sincerest advice.

Many of us in Los Angeles are transplants. We come for the opportunities. I moved to Los Angeles with three friends: an actor, a hair dresser and a musician. Each of us with an artistic purpose and reason to make the big move.  After a few years they each moved back to San Diego, because LA was “too difficult,” “a town without pity,” “overwhelming,” and “too competitive.” Being in my 20s, I was perplexed by their responses to LA, because I found every part of this city exciting, nicely paced, interesting, accessible and stimulating.

I admit that I did not arrive as a big frog from a little pond—coming here to prove that I could capture this city too. I came to learn, to join collectives, to work hard, to be awed and to network with the best of them–and that’s what I’ve done.

Its not about the public transportation, the fake people, not having everything you need within a mile radius, unrequited love, the expensiveness, the shit jobs, not being recognized as amazing, not being rich enough or dressing right—all those imagined reasons Los Angeles fails in many outsider’s eyes.

Its about some Hollywood fairy tale mental expectations, that wind up being unfulfillable. When you go someplace and presume that it should be just like ‘home’ and complain when it is not—who’s to blame for that? That’s what is defined as the arrogant Ugly American syndrome.

Those who belittle Los Angeles usually do not even know this city well enough to have seen or discovered all its richnesses. We true Angelenos love those official written dismissals of this city. Like a venomous spray of Black Flag, it keeps people away and shows the writer/s waving their white flag as they retreat back to their little town/s. Thanks–it means more for us! There is no need to hurt yourself or someone else by going mad, we actually feel bad when that happens. We unwind and meditate during the bumper to bumper ride home each day and feel extremely blessed to enjoy the cruise in LA.

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