My favorite metaphor for living in L.A. is captured by the beautiful sunsets which are caused by our very own air pollution – That’s right: Smog is the reason for our enhanced visual stimulation! Score one for the Carbon Footprint!
It has to do with scattering wavelengths of light (Rayleigh scattering). Blue/violet waves are shorter which is why the sky is blue at noon (shortest distance from sun). And red/yellow waves are longer which is why sunsets are reddish (furthest distance for light to travel).
But the only way to get those super fiery sunsets is by introducing aerosols into the atmosphere. That’s where smog comes in.
Isn’t that so L.A.? On the surface, many things appear so glamorous here: People are gorgeous, lots of money being thrown around- all in an industry that creates “entertainment” to sustain itself. How cool is that? But when we start to peel the proverbial onion on how movies are made… when we start to smell the polished turd that is so many Hollywood summer blockbusters these days… it bridges the colossal gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what appears to be’. This town of constructed beauty is oftentimes built with materials that are anything but.
I’m picturing a pretty, 20-something, Kansas girl who dropped out of college early and moved to L.A. to try her hand at acting. She meets this well-put-together-but-slovenly 50-year old producer-type who’s “discovered her” and soon brings her back to his lavish home in the Hollywood Hills. They’re taking in one of these gorgeous sunsets, the mood is right, and he says in a thick smoker voice: “Listen baby, I can make your dreams come true but you gotta do a few things for me first.” (And not in a cool, noir-ish way. NEVER in a cool noir-ish way).
But let’s be honest: we Angelenos enjoy a little edge. We revel in the stories, the ugly truth, the poetic irony. Our increased level of jaded-ness is (hopefully) equalled in sense of humor. Admit it- you love it… to a point.
Let that be a lesson to us: Let’s tone it down a bit.
For instance, let’s say it’s magic hour, you’re in stop-and-go traffic and — some A-hole cuts you off! Look, no one expects you to be all nice and pretend it didn’t happen- the L.A. code of entitlement will forever be in effect. Give em a honk if you want; rehearse all the things you would have liked to have said but didn’t; or you can simply make your point by pulling up next to them and giving them “the stare”… But wouldn’t it be nice if people relaxed a bit on the whole Road Rage thing?
I think that would be a good start in keeping our metaphorical sunsets from turning completely gray. That would be a magic hour indeed.