A Tale of Two Cities
It’s a particularly beautiful time of year in our Los Angeles neighbourhood; the flowers of the Jacaranda tree are blooming everywhere. We were walking the dog yesterday and the fallen purple blossoms which lay strewn upon the sidewalks glowed almost luminescent in the fading evening light. In fact it’s the beauty of this city, in a deeper sense, that has been much on my mind ever since we saw the new documentary Echo in the Canyon, at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood a little while ago, just before we departed for a week in New York. The project of Jakob Dylan and his long time manager Andrew Slater it is a truly lovely exploration of the Laurel Canyon music scene between 1965 and 1967. With its focus on the creativity and innocence of the period and the wonderful music which the collaborative atmosphere gave birth to it has somehow restored my faith and love for Los Angeles in a strangely mystical way.
It was with these echoes sounding in my thoughts that we boarded a plane a couple of days later and swiftly found ourselves right back in a city as vertically busy as LA is horizontally relaxed. We spent the week as one does in Manhattan, walking, talking, exploring old haunts, eating and then walking some more. When I look back at time spent there the memories come as fast and as overwhelmingly as the experience of the city itself does when you are actually immersed in it. We usually stay in Chelsea’s Flower District; I find the contrast of the grimy chaos and the overflowing buckets of peonies, sweet peas and hyacinth irresistible- no missing the fact that you are part of a living, breathing city here. We walked for hours in Central Park and my children danced and joked in the lightly misting rain as we took photographs by the deserted boating lake. I stepped amidst a forest of umbrellas in a heavy evening downpour to meet a very dear friend at the softly lit gem that is Indochine on Lafayette and trod the path from the Upper West Side to SoHo; a journey which left me thinking that it is only really in the mid 80s around Amsterdam and Columbus that Manhattan feels to me like it could be livable now. We sat in the evening at Tibet House and listened to my father as he taught a beautiful commentary on the Triple Vision which left me fiercely glad that I had had the opportunity to be there for those moments.
And yet for much of the time that I spent in this city that I once felt such anguish about leaving, I felt somehow a little lost and out of place amidst its streets and avenues that I know so well and loved so much. As though the city and I were out of step and now walking to different tunes and all the while I could hear those echoes, those vibrations from the West Coast calling me home. I know that I will be watching Echo in the Canyon again along with Model Shop, the movie that was its inspiration. I’m already humming the melodies for Never My Love and No Matter What You Do and can feel that there’s more to come here in this city of angels no matter that it’s beyond the horizon; that’s good enough for now.