front cover of LA Sports
LA Sports
Play, Games, and Community in the City of Angels
Wayne Wilson
University of Arkansas Press, 2018
LA Sports brings together sixteen essays covering various aspects of the development and changing nature of sport in one of America’s most fascinating and famous cities. The writers cover a range of topics, including the history of car racing and ice skating, the development of sport venues, the power of the Mexican fan base in American soccer leagues, the intersecting life stories of Jackie and Mack Robinson, the importance of the Showtime Lakers, the origins of Muscle Beach and surfing, sport in Hollywood films, and more.

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L.A. Story
Immigrant Workers and the Future of the U.S. Labor Movement
Ruth Milkman
Russell Sage Foundation, 2006
Sharp decreases in union membership over the last fifty years have caused many to dismiss organized labor as irrelevant in today's labor market. In the private sector, only 8 percent of workers today are union members, down from 24 percent as recently as 1973. Yet developments in Southern California—including the successful Justice for Janitors campaign—suggest that reports of organized labor's demise may have been exaggerated. In L.A. Story, sociologist and labor expert Ruth Milkman explains how Los Angeles, once known as a company town hostile to labor, became a hotbed for unionism, and how immigrant service workers emerged as the unlikely leaders in the battle for workers' rights. L.A. Story shatters many of the myths of modern labor with a close look at workers in four industries in Los Angeles: building maintenance, trucking, construction, and garment production. Though many blame deunionization and deteriorating working conditions on immigrants, Milkman shows that this conventional wisdom is wrong. Her analysis reveals that worsening work environments preceded the influx of foreign-born workers, who filled the positions only after native-born workers fled these suddenly undesirable jobs. Ironically, L.A. Story shows that immigrant workers, who many union leaders feared were incapable of being organized because of language constraints and fear of deportation, instead proved highly responsive to organizing efforts. As Milkman demonstrates, these mostly Latino workers came to their service jobs in the United States with a more group-oriented mentality than the American workers they replaced. Some also drew on experience in their native countries with labor and political struggles. This stock of fresh minds and new ideas, along with a physical distance from the east-coast centers of labor's old guard, made Los Angeles the center of a burgeoning workers' rights movement. Los Angeles' recent labor history highlights some of the key ingredients of the labor movement's resurgence—new leadership, latitude to experiment with organizing techniques, and a willingness to embrace both top-down and bottom-up strategies. L.A. Story's clear and thorough assessment of these developments points to an alternative, high-road national economic agenda that could provide workers with a way out of poverty and into the middle class.

front cover of Land of Smoke and Mirrors
Land of Smoke and Mirrors
A Cultural History of Los Angeles
Brook, Vincent
Rutgers University Press, 2013

Unlike the more forthrightly mythic origins of other urban centers—think Rome via Romulus and Remus or Mexico City via the god Huitzilopochtli—Los Angeles emerged from a smoke-and-mirrors process that is simultaneously literal and figurative, real and imagined, material and metaphorical, physical and textual. Through penetrating analysis and personal engagement, Vincent Brook uncovers the many portraits of this ever-enticing, ever-ambivalent, and increasingly multicultural megalopolis. Divided into sections that probe Los Angeles’s checkered history and reflect on Hollywood’s own self-reflections, the book shows how the city, despite considerable remaining challenges,  is finally blowing away some of the smoke of its not always proud past and rhetorically adjusting its rear-view mirrors.

Part I is a review of the city’s history through the early 1900s, focusing on the seminal 1884 novel Ramona and its immediate effect, but also exploring its ongoing impact through interviews with present-day Tongva Indians, attendance at the 88th annual Ramona pageant, and analysis of its feature film adaptations.

Brook deals with Hollywood as geographical site, film production center, and frame of mind in Part II. He charts the events leading up to Hollywood’s emergence as the world’s movie capital and explores subsequent developments of the film industry from its golden age through the so-called New Hollywood, citing such self-reflexive films as Sunset Blvd.,Singin’ in the Rain, and The Truman Show.

Part III considers LA noir, a subset of film noir that emerged alongside the classical noir cycle in the 1940s and 1950s and continues today. The city’s status as a privileged noir site is analyzed in relation to its history and through discussions of such key LA noir novels and films as Double Indemnity, Chinatown, and Crash.

In Part IV, Brook examines multicultural Los Angeles. Using media texts as signposts, he maps the history and contemporary situation of the city’s major ethno-racial and other minority groups, looking at such films as Mi Familia (Latinos), Boyz N the Hood (African Americans), Charlotte Sometimes (Asians), Falling Down (Whites), and The Kids Are All Right (LGBT).


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Latino Los Angeles
Transformations, Communities, and Activism
Edited by Enrique C. Ochoa and Gilda L. Ochoa
University of Arizona Press, 2005
As the twenth-first century begins, Latinas/os represent 45 percent of the residents of Los Angeles County, making them the largest racial/ethnic group in the region. At the same time, the shift from manufacturing to a service-based economy in the area has contributed to a decline in good-paying jobs, significantly impacting working class families. These transformations have created a backlash that has included state propositions impacting Latinas/os and escalating anti-immigrant rhetoric—and Latina/os of all backgrounds are making their voices heard. Until recently, most research on Latinas/os in the U.S. has ignored historical and contemporary dynamics in Latin America, just as scholars of Latin America have generally stopped their studies at the border. This volume roots Los Angeles in the larger arena of globalization, exploring the demographic changes that have transformed the Latino presence in LA from primarily Mexican-origin to one that now includes peoples from throughout the hemisphere. Bringing together scholars from a range of disciplines, it combines historical perspectives with analyses of power and inequality to consider how Latinas/os are responding to exclusionary immigration, labor, and schooling practices and actively creating communities. The contributors examine Latina/o Los Angeles in the context of historical, economic and social factors that have shaped the region. The first section provides contexts for understanding Latina/o migration, with chapters focusing on such factors as U.S. economic and military domination, labor and economic integration in the Americas, and Los Angeles’ economic history. The second section considers how various Latina/o groups have settled and formed communities and interacted with the existing Mexican-origin populations, showing how Zapotecs, Salvadorans, and other peoples are remaking urban demographics. The final section on labor organizing and political activism examines the role of Latina/o immigrants in such actions as the janitors’ strike and also considers the contemporary role of students in political activism. The volume concludes with an up-to-date compilation of contemporary scholarship on immigration, the economy, schools, neighborhoods, gender and activism as they relate to Central American and Mexican immigrants. Reflecting a range of methodologies—statistical, historical, ethnographic, and participatory research—this collection is relevant not only to ethnic studies but also to broader concerns in political science, sociology, history, economics, and urban studies. In addition, some chapters focus explicitly on women, and gender issues are interwoven throughout the text. Latino Los Angeles is an important work that contributes to contemporary scholarship on transnationalism as it reexamines the changing face of America’s largest western metropolis.

front cover of Latino Metropolis
Latino Metropolis
Victor M. Valle
University of Minnesota Press, 2000
A readable look at culture and politics in Los Angeles through a Latino lens. "The authors have taken careful observations and measurements of the political, economic and social factors that affect the Latino population, ranging from the globalization of the Southern California economy to the shrinkage in housing, schools and social services. Caught among these seemingly blind and irresistible forces, however, are human beings, and the authors issue a dire warning that we ignore the poor and disempowered among us at our own peril. Clearly, Latino Metropolis seeks to hold us all to the very highest standards when it comes to understanding and honoring the Latino traditions of California and accommodating the urgent needs of its growing Latino population. And the fact is that its verbal pyrotechnics serve their intended purpose--the authors manage to catch and hold our attention with the occasional verbal blow, and then they deliver a sober (and sobering) lecture on the hard realities of multiculturalism." Los Angeles Times "Latino Metropolis is a significant work of scholarship on Los Angeles and Latinos that puts the political economy back into academic and public discourse. The authors' detailed descriptions, insightful analysis, and identification of 'strategic opportunities' for change make the book a must read for scholars, community activists, and policy makers concerned with city building and community organizing." New Political Science Los Angeles: scratch the surface of the city's image as a rich mosaic of multinational cultures and a grittier truth emerges-its huge, shimmering economy was built on the backs of largely Latino immigrants and still depends on them. This book exposes the underside of the development and restructuring that have turned Los Angeles into a global city, and in doing so it reveals the ways in which ideas about ethnicity-Latino identity itself-are implicated and elaborated in the process. A penetrating analysis of the social, economic, cultural, and political consequences of the growth of the Latino working-class populations in Los Angeles, Latino Metropolis is also a nuanced account of the complex links between political economy and the social construction of ethnicity. Lifting examples from recent news stories, political encounters, and cultural events, the authors demonstrate how narratives about Latinos are used to maintain the status quo-particularly the existing power grid-in the city. In media representations of riots, in the recasting (and "whitening") of Mexican food as Spanish-American cuisine, in the community displacement that occurred as part of the development of the Staples Center-in telling instances large and small, we see how Los Angeles and its Latino population are mutually transforming. And we see how an old Latino politics of "racial" identity is inevitably giving way to a new politics of class. Combining political and economic insight with trenchant social and cultural analysis, this work offers the clearest statement to date of how ethnicity and class intersect in defining racialized social relations in the contemporary metropolis. Victor M. Valle is associate professor of ethnic studies at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Rodolfo D. Torres is associate professor of education at the University of California, Irvine, where he teaches social policy and urban political economy.

front cover of The Latino Question
The Latino Question
Politics, Laboring Classes and the Next Left
Rodolfo D. Torres
Pluto Press, 2018
In the United States, the number of Latinos struggling in pursuit of the American Dream has never been greater. Millions work towards this ideal each year, only to find themselves trapped in a cycle of debt and labor. The need for a vivid, empirically grounded study on Latino politics, culture, and social issues is more essential now than ever before—The Latino Question fulfills this gap, offering a cutting-edge overview and analysis of the transformative nature of Latino politics in the United States.
In a radical alternative to the dominant orthodoxy in Latino political studies, Rodolfo D. Torres, Armando Ibarra, and Alfredo Carlos emphasize the importance of political economy for understanding Latino politics, culture, and social issues. Written in an accessible style, the authors draw from extensive original research and several critical traditions—including Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, and Michel Foucault—to make crucial links between socio-economic and culture-based approaches for understanding the politics of race and ethnicity in capitalist society. Notably, they present front-line evidence of how some Mexican communities across America are not only resisting, but also reinventing and transforming the predominant economic ideas. The Latino Question will be essential for anyone hoping to understand the changes in Latino communities in America today.

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Like a Natural Woman
Spectacular Female Performance in Classical Hollywood
Pullen, Kirsten
Rutgers University Press, 2014
 Bathing beauty Esther Williams, bombshell Jane Russell, exotic Carmen Miranda, chanteuse Lena Horne, and talk-show fixture Zsa Zsa Gabor are rarely hailed as great actors or as naturalistic performers. Those terms of praise are given to male stars like Marlon Brando and James Dean, whose gritty dramas are seen as a departure from the glossy spectacles in which these stars appeared. Like a Natural Woman challenges those assumptions, revealing the skill and training that went into the work of these five actresses, who employed naturalistic performance techniques, both onscreen and off.

Bringing a fresh perspective to film history through the lens of performance studies, Kirsten Pullen explores the ways in which these actresses, who always appeared to be “playing themselves,” responded to the naturalist notion that actors should create authentic characters by drawing from their own lives. At the same time, she examines how Hollywood presented these female stars as sex objects, focusing on their spectacular bodies at the expense of believable characterization or narratives.

Pullen not only helps us appreciate what talented actresses these five women actually were, but also reveals how they sought to express themselves and maintain agency, even while meeting the demands of their directors, studios, families, and fans to perform certain feminine roles. Drawing from a rich collection of classic films, publicity materials, and studio archives, Like a Natural Woman lets us take a new look at both Hollywood acting techniques and the performance of femininity itself.

front cover of The Los Angeles Plaza
The Los Angeles Plaza
Sacred and Contested Space
By William David Estrada
University of Texas Press, 2008

2008 — Gold Award in Californiana – California Book Awards – Commonwealth Club of California
2010 — NACCS Book Award – National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies

City plazas worldwide are centers of cultural expression and artistic display. They are settings for everyday urban life where daily interactions, economic exchanges, and informal conversations occur, thereby creating a socially meaningful place at the core of a city.

At the heart of historic Los Angeles, the Plaza represents a quintessential public space where real and imagined narratives overlap and provide as many questions as answers about the development of the city and what it means to be an Angeleno. The author, a social and cultural historian who specializes in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Los Angeles, is well suited to explore the complex history and modern-day relevance of the Los Angeles Plaza. From its indigenous and colonial origins to the present day, Estrada explores the subject from an interdisciplinary and multiethnic perspective, delving into the pages of local newspapers, diaries and letters, and the personal memories of former and present Plaza residents, in order to examine the spatial and social dimensions of the Plaza over an extended period of time.

The author contributes to the growing historiography of Los Angeles by providing a groundbreaking analysis of the original core of the city that covers a long span of time, space, and social relations. He examines the impact of change on the lives of ordinary people in a specific place, and how this change reflects the larger story of the city.


front cover of Los Angeles
Los Angeles
The Development, Life, and Structure of the City of Two Million in Southern California
Anton Wagner
J. Paul Getty Trust, The, 2022
For the first time, Anton Wagner’s groundbreaking 1935 book that launched the study of Los Angeles as an urban metropolis is available in English.
No book on the emergence of Los Angeles, today a metropolis of more than four million people, has been more influential or elusive than this volume by Anton Wagner. Originally published in German in 1935 as Los Angeles: Werden, Leben und Gestalt der Zweimillionenstadt in Südkalifornien, it is one of the earliest geographical investigations of a city understood as a series of layered landscapes. Wagner demonstrated that despite its geographical disadvantages, Los Angeles grew rapidly into a dominant urban region, bolstered by agriculture, real estate development, transportation infrastructure, tourism, the oil and automobile industries, and the film business. Although widely reviewed upon its initial publication, his book was largely forgotten until reintroduced by architectural historian Reyner Banham in his 1971 classic Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies.
This definitive translation is annotated by Edward Dimendberg and preceded by his substantial introduction, which traces Wagner's biography and intellectual formation in 1930s Germany and contextualizes his work among that of other geographers. It is an essential work for students, scholars, and curious readers interested in urban geography and the rise of Los Angeles as a global metropolis.

“This fine new translation by Timothy Grundy of Anton Wagner's Los Angeles with Edward Dimendberg's lucidly probing introduction constitutes a major contribution to urban history and our understanding of one of the world's most enigmatic and significant cities.”

—Thomas S. Hines, Research Professor of History and Architecture and Urban Design, UCLA

“Edward Dimendberg has done a remarkable job bringing Anton Wagner's classic study of Los Angeles to a wider readership. This landmark publication will enable many strands of urban scholarship to enter into dialogue for the first time.”

—Matthew Gandy, Professor of Geography, University of Cambridge, and author of Natura Urbana: Ecological Constellations in Urban Space (2022)

 “Anton Wagner was a prescient and troubling historical figure. Nearly a century ago, with his camera in hand, he walked Los Angeles in fervent exploration of metropolitan growth. This beautiful and expert book takes Wagner every bit as seriously as he took Los Angeles.”
—William Deverell, Director, Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West
"Anton Wagner’s geographic and ethnographic history of the urbanization of Los Angeles has long been unavailable to English-speaking readers. This early study, accompanied by Edward Dimendberg’s comprehensive introduction, will be of interest to all who, like Reyner Banham, admire its impressive scholarship and firsthand account of a city and ecology already in the throes of dynamic transformation."
—Joan Ockman, Vincent Scully Visiting Professor of Architectural History, Yale School of Architecture
"Encompassing copious photographs, insightful commentary, and thorough reconstruction of Wagner’s life and times, this new translation of Anton Wagner’s Los Angeles provides the missing link in scholarship about the metropolis during the early twentieth century. Its continuing relevance and controversial edge will appeal to urban researchers and college students beyond Southern California."
—Michael Dear, Professor Emeritus of City & Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley
"Scholars of Los Angeles, or any city, must rejoice at this first proper English-language publication of Wagner's brilliant, if problematic, urban studies masterpiece. The edition is made accessible and relevant by Edward Dimendberg's indispensable prefatory material and contextualization."
—Roger Keil, Professor of Environmental and Urban Change, York University
“Finally translating this fascinating book into English fills an important gap in our historical knowledge of Los Angeles and its interpretation. Edward Dimendberg's invaluable introduction situates Anton Wagner in a comprehensive intellectual context. Of more than merely historical interest, this in-depth picture of Los Angeles in 1933 is essential reading for anyone interested in cities.”
—Margaret Crawford, Professor of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley
“This key text from 1935 for understanding Los Angeles urbanism is finally available in an excellent English translation by Timothy Grundy. Revelatory introductory essays by Anthony Vidler and Edward Dimendberg explain how German geographer (and later Nazi Party member) Anton Wagner was able to map and conceptualize the radical originality of this archetypal American metropolis in ways that deeply influenced Reyner Banham and so many subsequent writers on the city.”
—Robert Fishman, Taubman College of Architecture and Planning, University of Michigan
"Expertly annotated by Edward Dimendberg, Anton Wagner’s book on the growth of Los Angeles, which first appeared in German in 1935, is a landmark study in the history of urbanization. At the same time, it can be read as an example of transnational and comparative history, in which an observer from one country commented on developments in another. This volume will interest historians of the modern city, both in America and in Germany."
—Andrew Lees, Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus, Rutgers University
“Blending his wide knowledge and his acute wit, Edward Dimendberg has meticulously reconstructed the genesis of a forgotten doctoral thesis, which had remained unread for more than eighty years, despite its acknowledgement by Reyner Banham. This pioneering scholarly study of the Southern Californian metropolis is now available for the first time in English, inscribed with subtlety in both its German and its American contexts on the basis of thorough investigations.”
—Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
"This is the odyssey of a book written and published in 1930s Nazi Germany, forgotten after the war, and rediscovered by Reyner Banham in the ‘70s. Los Angeles is a seminal text of modern architectural history and confronts readers in the present with the paradox of an unknown classic.“
—Wolfgang Schivelbusch, author of The Railway Journey
“Finally, a translation of Anton Wagner’s Los Angeles, with extensive notes and a superb and deeply researched introduction by Edward Dimendberg, has arrived.  It turns out that it was worth the wait. This volume is not only an important historic document, but a still-unrivaled portrait of a great city.”
—Robert Bruegmann, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Art History, Architecture, and Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of Sprawl: A Compact History
"Scholars of Los Angeles can rejoice that Anton Wagner’s legendary study of early 1930s Los Angeles is at last available in a masterful translation, with a luminous introduction by Edward Dimendberg that captures Wagner’s analytical brilliance as well as his troubling politics and racial views. An essential addition to any library of Southern California."
—Louis S. Warren, W. Turrentine Jackson Professor of Western U.S. History, University of California, Davis
“Anton Wagner’s study provides an invaluable and frequently perceptive window into the evolution of Los Angeles during the early twentieth century, showing how human agency transformed regional resources into a booming major city.  The translation is immensely enhanced by Edward Dimendberg’s skillful provision of context, including fascinating intellectual history.”
—Stephen Bell, Professor of Geography and History, UCLA
"Los Angeles: The Development, Life, and Structure of the City of Two Million in Southern California has always had an elusive presence in the conversation about the explosive growth of the Southern California metropolis at the beginning of the twentieth century: an arcane text known to exist, but only accessible to very few. This expert first translation in English almost ninety years after it originally appeared in German is prefaced by a complex and engaging introduction by Edward Dimendberg that situates the original study in a multidisciplinary conversation. It elucidates the many ways this landmark essay on Los Angeles’s urban geography was not only filtered into subsequent scholarship on the city—Reyner Banham’s iconic Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies in particular—but also how it resonates with contemporary debates about cities as complex social organisms. This book will be essential reading not only for historians of Los Angeles but for those interested in the theorization of the modern metropolis more broadly. That the volume editor addresses Wagner’s problematic views on race and territorial conquest front and center, within their historic context, only adds to the significance of this undertaking."
—Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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