Thursday, January 31, 2013

City of Nets? City of Dreams

Occasionally I have visions of places which look ideal to me. I remember once dreaming of an island in a beautiful bay surrounded by hills and inlets. It was an Australian scene but bushland unlike anything I'd seen around Melbourne where I'd then spent most of my life. Some years later I was at West Head in northern Sydney's Kuring-gai Chase National Park and there, looking up toward Brisbane Water across Broken Bay was the scene I'd dreamed, with Lion Island in the middle. It suggested to me that I'd been meant to move to Sydney in 1987.

Lion Island in Broken Bay, NSW. John Dalton, 2006

I also used to dream of an Alice Springs-like landscape but with the valleys filled by a big city. Walking up behind Griffith Park, Los Angeles last year, I came across this scene as I looked out across the San Fernando Valley.

To me, this is quite beautiful. Otto Friedrich's book on Hollywood is called City of Nets. I think I might call LA the city of a dream. I have started to wonder why I don't have the aversion to Los Angeles that many Australians express. Talk to the majority of Australian travellers and they'll say Los Angeles is too spread out; you've got to have a car; it doesn't have the compactness that makes for a lively city. Well, I suppose. Imagine if in Sydney the Opera House was at the Quay, the Art Gallery of NSW was at Penrith, the MCA at Sutherland and the Wharf Theatre on the northern beaches. But I wonder if it's my Central Australian experience which makes me realise community can be created across any distance. (And certainly, the arts institutions here in LA are well patronised.)

I remember being in Pipalyatyara in northern South Australia in January 1976. The only "contact with the outside world" was the radio shack and one day we had to wait a seeming eternity while two women chatted over the airwaves. "Old ducks" we called them in our impatience, but then I realised that they were doing what neighbours anywhere will do. They were probably ringing in from cattle stations hundreds of miles or kilometres apart, and yet here they were indulging in the Central Australian equivalent of... chatting over the back fence.

A dreamlike bonus: Arpitt's photograph of Lion Island at sunset.

If you liked this blog, others of mine on Central Australia are:

Victory over death and despair in a bygone age (thoughts on John Strehlow's The Tale of Frieda Keysser), 5 Nov 2012
Considering the aboriginal land of Altjira, 20 May 2012
Opera in a land of Song, 29 July 2012
Drowned Man in a Dry Creekbed - Happy New Year 1993, 6 August 2012
Virginia in the Desert, 10 Sep 2012
others of mine on Los Angeles are:

A daily reminder, 1 April 2011
When you take a closer look, 21 April 2011
The frame (thoughts on the Getty Center), 24 April 2011
A light on the hill (the Reagan Library), 30 April 2011
A couple of snapshots (Malibu and the Valley), 1 May 2011
More to love about LA, 6 Jan 2012
Walking with stars, 10 Apr 2012
En plein air and a little elan, 16 Nov 2012
LA Substantial, 18 Jan 2013
City of Angels, 20 Jan 2013
City of Nets? City of Dreams, 31 Jan 2013
The combination of effects, 1 Feb 2013
Rounding off - LA vignettes 1, 2 Feb 2013

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