I haven't started reading the "Writing Los Angeles" anthology yet in search of something solid to take away from Los Angeles for myself. I've been reading "I'll Be Damned If I'll Die in Oakland" by Al Martinez, a great Los Angeles Times columnist who now writes weekly for the Daily News. This was from 2003, when he and his wife Cinelli traveled with their children and then without their children and then with a few of their grandchildren.
It's as warmly written as his columns, as insightful, as funny as what has criminally been reduced to a weekly offering. Towards the end, Martinez gets Los Angeles exactly right, how I could describe it if I was Al Martinez. This was when he and Cinelli had traveled to New York City with two of their granddaughters:
"There is no way to compare L.A. to the city that never sleeps. We are out here a sprawling, disconnected set of dreams that no one has ever been able to link. Manhattan is an entity, Los Angeles an idea not yet fulfilled. We have no core, no center, no focus. A few tall buildings have shot up from the gray downtown in the thirty years Cinelli and I have lived here, but they remain a kind of uneasy cluster amid the otherwise drab expanse that surrounds them. New York city is a series of surprises, L.A. an unfinished symphony."