Distant Glasses: Los Angeles International


Joshua Park, Nerd

Here we are, talking about good old Los Angeles. I’ll be talking much about Italy soon after, but I feel as though my experience in the LA area is more appropriately presentable for now. Like my Ted Stevens International article, going through my trip to LA in a regional organization seems the most satisfactory in this format. So I’ll have to start, once again, at the airport.

To the very few of those who had read my Ted Stevens International article before coming over to this one, you would be familiar with my various detailing on the “Pre-Travel Blues.” However, if you’re joining us on the matter without such information, I feel it somewhat relevant to give a brief description of it. Countless times I have had the privilege to travel to some pretty exciting destinations, and countless times I have fallen victim to the anomalous burden known as the “Pre-Travel Blues”;  a feeling of pure stagnation and tiredness that shackles my legs and anchors me down moments before we embark to Ted Stevens International Airport. This affliction is unforgiving; it strikes at any time of day and will arrive with intensity accented with painstaking consistency. How long I suffer through this usually depends on how long it takes for us to reach our flight, in which a prompt hibernation will often alleviate me of the condition. However, there are times in which the “Pre-Travel Blues” becomes persistent, and that was the unfortunate case for my trip to Los Angeles.

I felt pretty horrible at Sea-Tac; I was stumbling and dragging my feet across towards our next gate, in a posture not so dissimilar to a sloth drunkenly trying to walk on its two hind legs. Even worse, there wasn’t any time for chowder; our flight gave us a strict twenty minute transfer period.

Staggering into my seat for our second flight, I was feeling desensitized, on the brink of passing out, and somewhat hungry. Out of all of those three needs, my body chose the passing out as the most striking one to fix, in which the appropriate solution would be a second, two-hour longer, hibernation.

Soon after stepping off that flight, I walked with a blurry, lucid-like vision and desperately searched a place to sit down. I eventually scavenged a random seat and plopped myself on it to get a bearing on my scrambled consciousness. I’m not sure how long I sat there, but through eventual patience, my vision cleared up, and I was able to open my eyes normally since quite a while. It was then that I got my first authentic glimpse of LAX; it was pretty stunning.

Like many other airports, LAX appeared as a completely isolated, separate hamlet disconnected from LA itself, but it had a very distinct style of dominant glass structures blended with the hues of various subtle L.E.D. lights buried inside, radiating a deep blue or green luminance throughout the facilities. With its curtains of monitors and electronic displays, LAX truly embodied the prospect of “cutting-edge” and harnessed the essence of culturally-influenced futurism. Juxtaposing that futurism, however, was a system of various respites throughout the forest of contemporary architecture; a sea of varying food spots, clothing shops, and souvenir parlors helped distribute an aspect of human culture within the somewhat alienist frameworks of the airport.

The activity of the occupants rushing inside was of a different magnitude than the occasional bustles that Ted Stevens International would get on a busy day; LAX compressed an endless sea of constant conversation, technological chimes, echoing announcements, a pattering storm of footsteps, and more throughout every facility. It’s this soundscape that sends an air of duality on one’s impression of the Los Angeles culture; the variation of audial cues that color your ears creates a gripping and fascinating stimulation, but the sheer business of those sounds can also overwhelm. Below that experience of a euphoric audial soundscape there lies a depth of terrifying intensity and intimidation lurking ever so quietly, and then emerging towards the surface. It’s a sensation similar to the one I ran into in the plazas of New York City, a severe culture shock.

While LAX can be considered a its own “beast” when talking about LA, it shares a common message; Los Angeles makes its impression known. The magnitude and entropic blend of cultures that truly embodies Los Angeles is not something you slowly dip your feet into; the city won’t allow such a thing. It will make you take a sharp, hard dive into its depths, sucking you into its own world on its own terms. Take that initiative with full grace, and you’ll find the depths of Los Angeles to be holding some truly magical things.