Sunday, August 24, 2008

Indie-Yuppies Vs. LA, Part II

Why do the indie-yuppies hate us so? I'd been waffling a bit on whether the Decemberists' 2003 track, "Los Angeles, I'm Yours," really counts as cliched -- mainly because Colin Meloy's language is so flowery, I can barely understand what the hell he's talking about. But a couple people suggested it for this blog, and from what I can tell, he certainly doesn't like us:

There is a city by the sea
A gentle company
I don't suppose you want to
And as it tells its sorry tale
In harrowing detail
Its hollowness will haunt you
Its streets and boulevards
Orphans and oligarchs it hears
A plaintive melody
Truncated symphony
An ocean's garbled vomit on the shore
Los Angeles, I'm yours

Oh ladies, pleasant and demure
Sallow-cheeked and sure
I can see your undies
And all the boys you drag about
An empty fellow found
From Saturdays to Mondays
You hill and valley crowd
Hanging your trousers down at heel
This is the realest thing
As ancient choirs sing
A dozen blushing cherubs wheel above
Los Angeles I love

Oh what a rush of ripe elan
Languor on divans
Dalliant and dainty
But oh, the smell of burnt cocaine
The dolor and decay
It only makes me cranky
Oh great calamity
Ditch of iniquity and tears
How I abhor this place
Its sweet and bitter taste
Has left me wretched, retching on all fours
Los Angeles, I'm yours

Next time tell us how you really feel, Colin. Now there are indeed a few tried-and-true LA stereotypes in here, mainly the cocaine and the hollowness and the iniquity. But most of it just adds up to a general dump of somewhat nonsensical anti-Los Angeles-isms, from the dueling barf references to the affected pronunciation of "Los Ange-LEES" (I'm surprised he doesn't use the hard "g") to the sallow-cheeked underwear-exposing ladies having sex while cherubs sing -- he says that like it's a bad thing. It's all very evocative, but when you get down to it, he's just kind of kvetching without any actual criticism or analysis or even remotely realistic description of our city, let alone evidence that he has any real knowledge of it. And we're the ones who are "hollow"?

Of course, just four years later the Decemberists were welcomed warmly to LA to headline the 17,400-seat Hollywood Bowl, accompanied by the LA Philharmonic. I have to admit I've been called a lot of things in my time, but if someone described me as "an ocean's garbled vomit," I'm not sure I'd be so forgiving.

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