City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles

City of Quartz Excavating the Future of Los Angeles No metropolis has been loved or hated To its official boosters Los Angeles brings it all together To detractors LA is a sunlit mortuary where you can rot without feeling it To Mike Davis the author

  • Title: City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles
  • Author: Mike Davis
  • ISBN: 9780860913030
  • Page: 239
  • Format: Hardcover
  • City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles

    No metropolis has been loved or hated To its official boosters, Los Angeles brings it all together To detractors, LA is a sunlit mortuary where you can rot without feeling it To Mike Davis, the author of this fiercely elegant and wide ranging work of social history, Los Angeles is both utopia and dystopia, a place where the last Joshua trees are being ploNo metropolis has been loved or hated To its official boosters, Los Angeles brings it all together To detractors, LA is a sunlit mortuary where you can rot without feeling it To Mike Davis, the author of this fiercely elegant and wide ranging work of social history, Los Angeles is both utopia and dystopia, a place where the last Joshua trees are being plowed under to make room for model communities in the desert, where the rich have hired their own police to fend off street gangs, as well as armed Beirut militias In City of Quartz, Davis reconstructs LA s shadow history and dissects its ethereal economy He tells us who has the power and how they hold on to it He gives us a city of Dickensian extremes, Pynchonesque conspiracies, and a desperation straight out of Nathaniel Westa city in which we may glimpse our own future mirrored with terrifying clarity.

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    City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles

    One thought on “City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles

    1. Howard Olsen

      My favorite song about Los Angeles is L.A by The Fall It s got an ominous synth line, a great guitar riff, and Mark Smith s immortal lyrics L.L.L.A.A.A.L L L A A A It s the perfect soundtrack for reading this excellent book Davis has written a social history of the LA area, which does not proceed in a linear fashion Instead, he picks out the social history of groups that have become identified with LA developers, suburb dwellers, gangs, the LAPD, immigrants, etc By the end of the book, you have [...]

    2. Ben B

      This has to be the most painfully frenetic, confusingly concocted book I ve ever read The writer interrupts himself with parentheticals almost every other sentence he drops names and factoids without ever describing their significance worst of all, instead of referring to things in plain English, he makes use of an unending stream of unexplained, mixed, and half hearted metaphors, as though he were undecided about whether this should be a history book or something poetic It s obvious he s too c [...]

    3. Dan

      A reliably lefty history of Los Angeles, City of Quartz was a fascinating read for a recent transplant from the east coast Mike Davis collection of essays eschews the day to day history, choosing instead to focus on several underlying factors to the ur Angeleno character Architecture as fortress, crime as byproduct of disenfranchisement the Catholic church as institution of greed, power, and racism the boom bust of manufacturing etc Davis makes a compelling case for why the city operates the way [...]

    4. David McCormick

      It s great to see that this old book still generates lively debate City of Quartz is so inherently political that opinions probably reflect the reader s political position Davis makes no secret of his political leanings in the new revised introduction he spells them out in the first paragraph For a leftist, his arguments about the geographic marginalization of the Los Angeles poor and their exploitation, neglect and abuse by civic and religious hierarchies will be fascinating and sadly unsurpris [...]

    5. Michael Burnam-Fink

      What is it that turns smart people into Marxists I cannot write this review without prefacing the perspective that I come from I m from LA, a member of a West Side Jewish family involved in real estate development, and these days a grad student in science and technology studies What I was interested in was what Los Angeles means is it the American dream or the American nightmare Davis almost gets there, but instead gets stuck reproducing the shibboleths of political economy.Davis chronicles the [...]

    6. Annie

      Mike Davis is from Bostonia It s a community totally forgotten now but if you must know it was out in El Cajon, CA on the way to Lakeside It had an awesome swapmeet where I spent a month of Sundays and my dad was a patron of the barbershop there I like to think that Davis and I see things the same way becuase of that He s a working class scholar yeah, I know he was faculty at UCI and has a house in Hawaii with a keen eye for all the layers of life in a city, especially the underclass Utterly fas [...]

    7. Andrea

      This is as good as I remember it though descriptive, less theoretical, easier to read I guess practice as a reader of such things does make perfect This is a story of the contradictory impact of economic globalization upon different segments of Los Angeles society vi , but written in very unexpected ways No doubt why it has become such a classic, and why so many people I ve met here in London know Los Angeles through this book I grapple with what exactly it says about globalisation, and it is p [...]

    8. Andy

      I ve been interested in reading about the history of Los Angeles since having read Lou Cannon s Official Negligence, a book that s rich with L.A history City Of Quartz seemed as good a place to start as any The first few chapters, which deal with the founding movements and philosophical ideas e.g Socialism, Boosterism, and the obsession with Mission culture that form the roots of much of L.A s gestalt, were fascinating, and seem to hold the polemic to at least a somewhat reasonable level The ch [...]

    9. Malcolm

      Mike Davis a scarily good he s a top notch historian, a fine scholar and a political activist His analysis of LA in City of Quartz is excellent he unpacks the political economy of the sprawling suburban mass that takes up so much of southern California and influences so much of the world by delving into the lives, the influences, the cultural and economic existence that is the past and present LA As one who avoids the place like the plague, Davis is one of the few reasons why I d go he makes me [...]

    10. Athena

      Despite having been an urban studies major in college, I put off reading City of Quartz for a long time because I was under the impression that it contained a lot of minutiae about Los Angeles politics that I didn t care to learn about I was right about that, and struggled through the two chapters of the book Power Lines and Homegrown Revolution that focused primarily on local politics the ten or so pages of these chapters that were interesting to me were buried in 40 pages of excruciating detai [...]

    11. Lily

      This book made me realize how difficult reading can be when you don t already have a lot of the concepts in your head aren t used to thinking about such things However if I were thinking about such things I d find it really rewarding to see all of them referenced Really high density of proper nouns I used , or just agreed to have a less rich understanding of what was going on In fact I think I used just enough google to get by Anyway now I know that LA was built up on real estate speculation, on [...]

    12. Dan

      Robert Caro s The Power Broker was the definitive book for understanding the modalities of power in the 20th century city In Caro s story, power was anthropomorphized and vilified in the despotic person of Robert Moses, master builder of New York City City of Quartz updates that sprawling, kaleidoscopic depiction of the city on the west coast But in some ways Davis mural is complex, subtle In L.A power is ephemeral and fragmented substance is ephemeral reality this is L.A people itself is ephe [...]

    13. Peter Landau

      It feels like Mike Davis is screaming at you throughout the 400 pages of CITY OF QUARTZ EXCAVATING THE FUTURE IN LOS ANGELES He s mad and full of righteous indignation Los Angeles will do that to you A native, Davis sees how Los Angeles is the city of the 20th century the vanguard of sprawl and land grabs, surveillance and the militarization of the police force, segregation and further disenfranchisement of immigrants, minorities and the poor The book opens at the turn of the last century, with [...]

    14. Grantimatter

      Every time I pick this book up, I start to feel like it s not really written for me it s written for some newly arrived L.A denizen from 1990 or so And I figure I ll put it down after the next page And then Davis hits me with some amazing bit of weird trivia from left field a discussion of urban planning will suddenly veer into a mini biography of Jack Parsons Crowley disciple, rocket scientist, free love advocate, explosive suicide , or a discussion of irrigation problems in the San Fernando Va [...]

    15. Phillip

      As a native of Los Angeles, I really enjoyed reading this great history on that city which I have always had an intense love hate relationship with At times I think of it as the world s largest ashtray other times I am struck by the physical beauty and the feeling I get when I m there, which is largely nostalgic these days But Davis starts in the days when LA was little than Mexican farmland and deconstructs the political history of the place revealing the east side west side rivalries, intrigu [...]

    16. Wendy

      I lived in LA from 1999 to 2010, longer than I ve lived anywhere else but I took the city on its own terms and didn t really understand the full spectrum of interests that molded the city into what it was I don t have a background in urban studies, but this book passionately argued on a constellation of loosely related topics was definitely a disturbing eye opener From the disenfranchised roots of local gangs to the politics of the Catholic archdiocese, from real estate speculation and HOAs to t [...]

    17. Jason

      Mike Davis is a mental giant I knew next to nothing about Los Angeles until I dove into this treasure trove of information revealing the shaddy history and bleak future of the City of Quartz For me, Davis is almost too clever and at times he is hard to follow, but that is why I like his work Check out how he traces the rise of gangs in Los Angeles after the blue collar, industrial jobs bailed out in the 1960s Must read if you consider LA home.

    18. Susan

      This is the best book I have ever read on the history of the development of Los Angeles It has it all water wars, the destruction of the public transportation system in favor of the freeways, payoffs, bribes, insanity, and death I found it sbsolutely fascinating, and not just because this is my home town If you ve ever wondered about the real story behind the film, Chinatown, this is the book for you Very well researched and written I highly recommend this.

    19. Jennifer Ozawa

      The chapters about the Catholic Church and Fontana are beautifully written I ve had a fascination with Los Angeles for a long time This isn t a history of the area as much as a discussion of the main issues facing the region and how they came to be.

    20. Emmanuel Garcia

      An amazing overview of the racial and economic issues that has shaped Los Angeles over the last 150 years This book placed many of the city s peculiarities into context Amazing book.

    21. Andrew Boes

      Amazing decoding of oppressive infrastructure in L.A Extremely dramatized, thick with conspiracy but is never far from the truth about spatial control.

    22. Robert

      There s a lot to say about this book It is a somewhat left leaning history of Los Angeles that was written in 1990, and is split into eight sections counting the prologue The story of socialist suburb Llano del Rio the history of LA s dueling narratives as epitomizing either the American dream or a futuristic dystopia history of LA s regional political and economic elites the political rise of the Homeowners the rise of police state architecture the story of the LAPD s war on poor and brown peop [...]

    23. Stephen

      I finished it It is the most difficult Mike Davis book I have read I read small portions of it in graduate school, a class on Theories of Urban Design It is the concluding book of the trilogy I decided to read on my return from a trip to visit family in LA The first was Joan Didion s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, number two Reyer Banham s Los Angeles The Architecture of Four Ecologies, and thirdly, this monstrosity On a return trip, without a doubt, I will look at the city with a radically differ [...]

    24. Lucas

      A long, disenchanting, and brutal look at the history of Los Angeles One of the most fascinating books I ve ever read, Mike Davis s reckoning with the financial and political powers that created, destroyed, and now recreate Southern California provides an alternate view of the City of Tomorrow focused on the travails of its oppressed and ignored peoples Davis s analysis of the literature of Southern California serves as an excellent introduction to the intrigues that shaped its industry or lack [...]

    25. Jeremy

      I found this really difficult to get through While Davis s approach is very wide ranging and comprehensive, I often found myself struggling to keep up with all of the historical examples and various people mentioned in this account Having never been there myself and knowing next to nothing about the area s history, I often felt myself overwhelmed, struggling to keep track of the various people and institutions that helped shape such a fractured, peculiarly American locale I think it would have h [...]

    26. Nathan Mabry

      Most depressing view of LA that I ve ever been witness to but, may have been needed Goes on at length ad nauseum about power structure and it s relation to property values HATES Frank Gehry Mr Davis offers no real solutions to problems presented in examples Overall Great book for facts and overall pictures of where power comes from in LA in a historical sense However, you may have to buy a ticket to Disneyland or head to the beach after finishing this piece of work due to the massive amount of d [...]

    27. Lindsey Bahr

      A bit apocalyptic, but Davis is a terrific essayist who has taken great pains to chronicle the history of Los Angeles in a compelling way from the noir image we re presented by films and books, to the intense class polarization of the city layout It s from the early 90s though now I m really behind on the progress of the last 20 years.

    28. Ben

      Fun, if you treat it as a work of fiction Read it like you d read a dystopian sci fi novel, like Snowcrash Which admittedly, sometimes Los Angeles feels like To paraphrase Royal Blue, L.A ain t so bad Experience it for yourself.

    29. Karen

      His analysis and insights on Los Angeles remain compelling 25 years later I gained a lot even if I sometimes had to dig through some areas where I wished that an editor had excavated ahead of me.

    30. Sally Edsall

      A celebrated work, one of the essential readings for anyone interested in the social and political fabric of this most intriguing, beguiling monstrous of urban spaces The book is certainly scholarly the footnotes themselves make great reading , and it takes some effort to read This is no booster like fable about LA.Interestingly, Davis is a Marxist, and I have not often come across mainstream works by Americans in that political tradition, and that in itself would, for some, make it worth readin [...]

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