I arrived in Los Angeles in September 1980, carrying two old fiberboard suitcases and wearing a shiny grey jacket - the top half of what was known, mid-century, as a sharkskin suit - which I had purchased (like the suitcases) from a 'tat' shop - and my bike, a 'fixie' (then known as a track bike). My luggage contained clothes, a few bound copies of my recently completed Sydney University Honors thesis, 'The White Unwritten Atmosphere',  my bible (a new edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary) and Barry Humphries' 1979 book, Treasury of Australian Kitsch. This latter had been pressed into my hand by a wild colonial girl, (a half-Maouri New Zealander) who had delivered me to Sydney airport, along with a couple of other friends, in a white, 1960's 3.8 Jag Mk. II.

I knew a few things about Los Angeles: the address of the Tropicana Motel in West Hollywood, at the time a home-away-from-home for second-tier rock musicians; the name and phone number of a professional surfer in Malibu (given to me by John Witzig, publisher of Tracks, the seminal Australian surf magazine) and the name and number of the director of admissions at UCLA's Graduate School of Architecture, with whom I had negotiated, while completing my thesis (and working by day on an artist-in-residence conversion of an old pickle factory), over the antipodean winter.

As it turned out, that was enough. Within a few days I owned a 1971 Buick Riviera and shared a house on Waveview, at the very top of Topanga, above the marine layer that often floated below, over the beach that was to become my surf spot. The professional surfer had disparaged my choice of car; I realized that Australia was but a poor provincial out post of the world of kitsch into the ground zero of which I had so recently arrived, and I discovered too, that despite smoking a (soft) pack of Marlboro reds a day, I was still fit enough to ride my bike to UCLA from Topanga and back - late at night, with just a one-inch red reflector hanging beneath my seat, through the steep, dark and rocky canyon, the chaparral glistening in the reflected glow of Los Angeles lamp light.

Much later I discovered that notwithstanding Carey McWilliams' estimable An Island on the Land, 1946, Reyner Banham's very English gloss on Los Angeles, The Architecture of Four Ecologies, 1971, and Charles' Jencks' embrace of L.A.'s architectural kitsch in Daydream Houses of Los Angeles, Rizzoli, NY, 1978, (compared to which, Australia's triple fronted brick vanillas were but enfeebled cousins) the book I really needed to read had yet to be published. A book that might begin something like this,

"Dimly on the horizon are the giant sheds of Air Force Plant 42 where stealth bombers (each costing 10,000 public housing units) and other still top secret, hot rods of the apocalypse are assembled. Closer at hand, across a few miles of creosote and burro bush, and the occasional grove of that astonishing yucca, the Joshua tree, is the advance guard of approaching suburbia, tract homes on point."

A book that looked at Los Angeles through the prism of utopian communities, hucksters, debunkers, religious revivalists, political powerbrokers, trade-unions, the L.A.P.D., the Defense and Aerospace Industry, the prison-industrial complex, gangs, drugs, gated communities, the Catholic church, literature and the movies.

That book appeared in 1990: it was Mike Davis' City of Quartz, Verso, NY.

And yes, it opens with a view from the Antelope Valley, from the blank urban wildland desertscape of the Llano del Rio Colony, a socialist utopian community founded On May 1, 1914, shortly abandoned, and then, in the late 1980's, the area was "prepared like a virgin bride for its eventual union with the Metropolis; hundreds of square miles engridded to accept the future millions..." In 2011, Llano del Rio still awaits those wedding nuptuals and has become a dessicated old maid, confirmed in her status as a ghostburb. We have survived exurbia, we have outgrown our infatuation with suburbia and we now await that urban intensification which may produce, as a sincerely to be hoped for corollary, the sanctification of the wildland (Gaia Nation). Twenty years on, the world has turned and we are confronted, once again, with the fleeting truths of predictive journalism.

Sixty years ago, Los Angeles was the City of the Future. Thirty years ago, it was the city of my future. Today, it is a still sprawling conurbation become a great Latin city struggling, as a child of the twentieth century, with its vision for the twenty-first. For me, it has retreated into the landscape of the past. I see it now from the outlands, from Upper Ojai, possessed like the Antelope Valley, of its own utopian flotsam (here the wreckage that has drifted ashore from Annie Besant's sea of dreams), where it provides a perspective from the wild towards the now ebbing urban frontier.

From this urban wildland ecotone, this edge-place (Edge Times), I see mostly the chaparral in front of my nose. My guides are Uncle Milt's Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, 1996; Qinn and Keeley's Introduction to California Chapparal, 2006 and still, 'Red' Head's The Elfin Forest, 1972. It is at once a smaller world, but one that also promises access to the infinitude of the Universe through communion with the wildland. As I peer through the thickets of chamise to the valleys beyond, I realize that I am writing, post by post, the guide book; this blog a Baedeker to the Ojai spiritlands.

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