Los Angeles Spring
|Robert Adams, Ontario, California, 1983|
The floral emblem of L.A. spring must be the jacarandas, which rival D.C's cherry blossoms and generally peak about 6 weeks later, in May. Jacarandas are rarely encountered in California plein air painting, a school that was moribund by the time the trees became widely planted in Los Angeles, in the 1920s and 30s.
The beauty of jacaranda season figures frequently in Raymond Chandler's writings as a noir-world counterpoint to L.A.'s moral corruption. In his story "Blackmailers Don't Shoot" (1933), Chandler writes, "Beautiful hands are as rare as jacaranda trees in bloom, in a city where pretty faces are as common as runs in dollar stockings."
"I love Los Angeles," said Vladimir Nabokov, "where we lived when I was writing the screenplay of Lolita. I had never seen jacarandas trees before."
The portmanteau word "smog" appears in Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man (1964). A generation later Adams recorded the visual reality of what had already become a literary trope for failures of suburban sprawl and individualism.
Bad Religion's "Los Angeles is Burning" (2004) revisits jacarandas, smog, and The Day of the Locust: "A placard reads the end of days / Jacaranda boughs are bending in the haze."
|Gabriel Duarte, Echo Park, 2020|