Review: City on the Edge of Forever

City on the Edge of Forever is a great book to hand to a new Angeleno who is trying to find their feet in this part of the world. Peter Lunenfeld has clearly fallen in love with SoCal and immersed himself in both the history and culture, both pop and mainstream. I probably picked it up five years too late for the peak effect, but I appreciate the work.

A lot of history, innovation, artifice, and commerce blend here. While that’s true of any place, SoCal gathers all that from several disparate cultural sources and stirs it with the roiling twin forces of land speculation and the creative media industry. There’s the natural churn and clash of people accelerated by rapid turnover of people seeking fame, land, and wealth. The result – at the moment – is a place that is constantly trying to pretend it’s new by repainting its zeitgeist. Its history is a kaleidoscope of more of the same.

It’s a strange, fast-moving place for someone from somewhere else, as so many of us are, and Lunefeld does a fine job finding threads that embroider it all with interesting patterns. He finds some interesting connections through culture, architecture, occultism, and mass media.

As I say, I had heard enough of these histories before that I wasn’t spellbound by all this, but I can see how it could serve as a great eye-opener.


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