Becoming Los Angeles: Myth, Memory, and a Sense of Place

D.J. Waldie
In conversation with Carolina A. Miranda
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Episode Summary

“What do we talk about when we talk about Los Angeles today?” asks D.J. Waldie. A writer whose work has been called a “gorgeous distillation of architectural and social history” by The New York Times, Waldie is the author of Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir and other books that illuminate the ordinary and the everyday in lyrical prose. Becoming Los Angeles, his newest collection, blends history, memory, and critical analysis to illuminate how Angelenos have seen themselves and their city. From the ordinariness of L.A.’s seasons to the gaudy backdrop of Hollywood illusion, Waldie considers how the city’s image was constructed and how it fostered willful amnesia about its conflicted past. Encountering the immigrants and exiles, the dreamers and con artists, the celebrated and forgotten who became Los Angeles, Waldie arrives at an intersection of the city’s history and its aspirations. Please join us for a hometown celebration as Waldie discusses his love for L.A. and the renewed hope it takes to sustain the romance.

Participant(s) Bio

D. J. Waldie is the author of Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir and Real City: Downtown Los Angeles Inside/Out. His narratives about life in Los Angeles have appeared in Buzz magazine, Kenyon Review, the Massachusetts Review, the Georgetown Review, Salon and Dwell magazine. His book reviews and opinion pieces appear in the Los Angeles Times. He is a contributing writer for Los Angeles magazine. D.J. Waldie lives a not-quite-middle-class life in Lakewood, in the house his parents bought in 1946.

Carolina A. Miranda is a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times where she reports on art and culture. She has also been a reporter for Time magazine and worked as an independent journalist, contributing to outlets such as NPR, ARTnews and Architect. She is a regular contributor for KCRW’s “Press Play” and was the founding co-chair of the Los Angeles Times Guild employee union.

David Kipen was born and raised in Los Angeles. He founded the nonprofit Boyle Heights lending library Libros Schmibros in 2010. Former literature director of the National Endowment for the Arts, book editor/critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, and contributor to multiple volumes of California cultural history, Kipen teaches full-time in the UCLA writing program. A familiar voice on public radio, he also serves as book critic for Los Angeles magazine and is critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times.