I wrote this free verse rant 8 years ago, after spending time in Los Angeles, interfacing with the entertainment industry. It was not a pleasant experience.

This piece is a strong emotional reaction to that most difficult time. However, it has not, for me, come to stand as a permanent condemnation of the place. I’m not fond of LA, but I’ve come to accept the city as it is — and I have friends, here in Oregon, from there.

In fact, my son Justin, like Randy Newman — loves LA!



American Lung Association’s 2006 annual report ranks LA the most polluted city in US.




this place
this uncentered tangle
this giant strip mall

petrochemically addicted

conspicuously consumed


land of false fronts
false promise

back lots
back stabbing

pop culture
popped dreams


americana’s cracked patina


self-centered city

flat and stinking
spreading like disease


sad and suffocating

on exhaled excess


hordes in a hurry


fleeing ruined reality
going nowhere

soulless city
wholly californicated

evacuated masses
escape northward




la la land



died of arrogance


rob kistner © 10/9/99




~ by Image&VerseToo on November 14, 2007.

22 Responses to “LA”

  1. Having your explanation at the first helps set a bit of the circumstance. I’d have liked to have seen that in the poem itself, without the explanation it came across as a bit of a rant (to me, sorry). But it is emotive. And raw.

  2. i share much of your sentiment.. at 17 in one of my earlier journals i reflected… “here i am in the city of the angels… and i have never been so miserable……” i still visit.. but never feel a part…..

  3. Deb –

    No need to apologize. “LA” is a free verse rant, as I explained in the introduction at the top of this post. This piece is intense and raw by its nature… that’s precisely as I wrote it 8 years ago. I like its anger and power, that is why I never rewrote it.

    There was no way to include the sentiments of the explanation that you see at the top of this post in the work — because they did not surface until quite a long while after I’d written the original piece — and I don’t want to alter the impact of the original.

  4. Paisley –

    I still have occasion to be in LA, but it will never be on my list of favorite cities — though I have mellowed some in my opinion.

    But it’s just not my kind of place.

  5. Your poem is angry and raw and makes me glad we didn’t go to LA when we had our holiday in California when I was young!

  6. There are some great images in here.

  7. angel-less – how sad!

  8. Actually on my trip to US, the city I enjoyed most was LA, somehow loved the stay there, may be because it was only for 4 days..

  9. From LA..actually the more suburban sprawl outside the sprawl..Californication..oh how people loved to say that to me when I moved to Colorado.

    LA is really in the missions and in the craftman bungalows..The rest is just set design. As temporary as time. It’s in the oaks, not the palms.

  10. Juliet –

    My poem is angry — and you still should go to LA once in your life… interesting place to visit, but… (you know the rest)

  11. Jo –

    Thank you! LA inspires images…

  12. Pauline –

    It’s probably has one or two — but 8 years ago, upon my return, I didn’t think so… 😉

  13. Rambler –

    It is a great place for a short visit… as long as you’re not there on a heavy inversion day.

  14. Wendy –

    I’ve been back to LA with our friends from Oregon here who lived 22 years near Santa Barbara, and commuted to Burbank — worked at NBC.

    I’ve been shown some of the ‘better’ LA basin — I still can’t handle the smog or the traffic. Our friends got fed up with LA — that’s why they are now in Oregon… and lovin’ it.

    I really like Santa Barbara… 😉

  15. I’ve both liked LA and found it scary in it’s falseness. Your piece is raw, powerful and brutally honest – a good rant!

  16. Never been there. But now I don’t wanna go. Your picture is stark and telling.

  17. You are describing LA but also many otehr places in our hearts! I’ve never been to LA but I’ve been to the place your are describing!

  18. Tumblewords –

    Thank you for your thoughts… 😉

  19. Rethabile –

    If the opportunity arises, you should go.

    LA is an interpretive view of one former perception of the ‘American dream’, albeit a somewhat shortsighted and superficial perception — the epitome of the mid-twentieth-century California ‘fantasy’ of Americana.

    Ultimately, LA is interesting for a short visit, just not a city that works well.

  20. Linda –

    Yes, LA does not stand alone in the world as a failed city. It is simply a key example of lack of vision and planning — seasoned with greed and corruption in its early growth. Again, not the only example — just one of the largest examples.

    Getting a city to work strategically, tactically, ergonomically, ecologically, and financially — is damned difficult… but some do.

  21. IT is as true today as it was 8 years ago. Somethings only get worse with time. Glad you had the good sense to get out.

  22. Annie –


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