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Los Angeles, still the city of dreams?

Spelling Mansion "World’s finest chocolate, $1."

"Candy Spelling reportedly sells Holmby Hills estate."

"Rick Caruso’s grand plan."

The latter two are headlines on stories in The Times on Wednesday.

The first?  That's a sales pitch I heard over the weekend. 

Was I on Rodeo Drive?  On Fifth Avenue in New York?  Perhaps in a trendy shop in Switzerland?

No. The "world’s finest chocolate, $1" was offered to me by a street vendor in front of the Fry's Electronics store in, as Johnny Carson used to say, "beautiful downtown Burbank."

I know what you’re thinking: It really wasn't "the world’s finest chocolate" the guy had in his little cardboard box. It was just chocolate bars.

Yes. And Candy Spelling's Holmby Hills estate is just a house.  And Rick Caruso, the subject of Tim Rutten's column, is just a developer.

In Los Angeles, what's for sale are dreams:  great chocolate for $1, a $150-million estate or the vision of a city of neighborhoods centered around trendy shopping areas connected by light-rail lines.

Sometimes, the dreams don't pan out (witness Tuesday’s shocking announcement that the Hugh Hefner -- Crystal Harris nuptials were off).

But often they do. Look at Stan Lee, the Marvel Comics genius who was the subject of Patt Morrison’s interview on Saturday. From comic books to entertainment titan?  Only in L.A.

Read the comments on stories about California in general and L.A. in particular and you'd think everything has gone to hell in a handbasket. You know, businesses leaving in droves, along with the rich, fed up with being taxed to death. And the common man too, packing up and moving to Texas, or Nevada, or, well, anywhere.

Baloney. Anyone just pay more than $100 million for a fairy-tale estate in Dallas? You telling me you'd rather watch the sunset in Iowa than on a beach in Malibu? Think people would come from all over the world to visit a mall in Idaho, like they do the Grove?  What's nicer: A summer evening at the Hollywood Bowl, or country and Western music on the radio in your pickup?

Tell someone you're from L.A., and watch their eyes light up. Especially young people. "Know any movie stars?" they’ll ask. "Ever been to a club on Sunset?"

I didn't buy one of the world's best chocolate bars. But I wish I had. 

Because maybe it was.

ALSO:

If L.A. freeways aren't free

Rejecting red-light cameras in L.A.

Patt Morrison Asks: Comics genius Stan Lee

California redistricting: Don't expect any magic

-- Paul Whitefield

Candy Spelling, the widow of legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling, put the 4.7-acre residence up for sale more than two years ago at $150 million. It has reportedly been sold to a British heiress for $85 million. Credit: Mark Terrill / Associated Press

 

Comments () | Archives (7)

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ThomasFredette

The "World's Best Chocolate" bars have been around for a long long time. But, like L. A., they've changed their formula and they're not as good as I remember when I was a kid. I left Los Angeles, against my will, in 1975. Alot has changed since then. The city peaked in '84 and is experiencing some great lows currently. The problem with Los Angeles is that it has the size and scope of a world class city, but unlike other world class cities it sits back and rests on the fact that there will always be people who want to see that sunset from Malibu instead of Iowa. That want to be a part of Hollywood and comfortable weather. And the city takes that into account AND DOES NOTHING! Other cities, who have just dug themselves out of yet another lousy winter are doing everything they can to better themselves. AND THEY DON'T STAND IN THEIR OWN WAY! They know if they don't build it- NO ONE WILL COME! When will Los Angeles build something again? Build anything ...... again?

Marv

I'm sorry, all I heard you say was, "derp, derp, derp."

NM

It's amusing how this reporter compares L.A. life vs. listening to country radio in a pickup. The Grove? last time I was at the Grove, it was infested with gang members and retail stores. L.A. is left with a very few areas where you'd consider "good". This reporter is trying to make the point that having an area like Malibu makes up for the 95% rundown areas. That's like saying the dry spots in a manure pool make up for the rest. The reality is that LA is going down hill and the more the city milks the people, the faster it's going to fall.

Mike

I have to admit L.A. is a good place and I like to visit. However, most of Los Angeles looks like a toilet. Sure there are very nice areas but most of it is very third world. Sorry but its the truth. You can only live the real L.A. lifestyle only if your a millionaire. Look all around downtown Los Angeles, nothing but poverty.

Here is the real test. If your raising a family and you are middle class, are you going to move to Los Angeles? Answer is no way!!!!! Your gonna move to the suburbs where its cheaper and you wont have to send your kids to schools filled with immigrants.

Rich

It's difficult to focus on reality when there's so much noise. This is especially true when discussing Los Angeles. The way I see it, after having grown up here in the '90s, things are on the upswing. The crime rate is at its lowest point in decades (remember '92?). Gang violence is down. The middle class is once again moving to the central city. Neighborhoods like Echo Park, Downtown and Hollywood haven't seen such investment in half a century. We're building out our transit system at a rapid pace, though not as rapid as we'd all like.

Of course, there are the downsides. Entire industries that once provided a great career for thousands just disappeared. The oil companies moved away, the aerospace companies are gone, and major manufacturers have moved their jobs to China. This has been recurring throughout the US, though, and we all just have to adapt.

I'm frustrated by the state of our roads, the lack of common-sense landscaping and beautification that we should be doing to our sidewalks. Most of our taxes are going to pay the pensions and health care of workers that have long since stopped working for the people of Los Angeles. We're rapidly losing dozens of historic properties to the wrecking ball and to modernization, though some do get restored.

We don't have business advocates in City Hall; we only have roadblocks and fees and red tape with a no-can-do attitude. Inspectors with too much power and a bone to pick versus someone who can really help make this city the small-business powerhouse it once was and still could be.

I have faith that the Los Angeles I know and love can pull ahead, but it's going to take a lot of work, and we need to elect the right people to do the job.

Mitchell Young

International visitors may not go to a mall in Iowa, but they sure hit Minnesota's "Mall of America".

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-18/dollar-drop-boosts-tourist-spending-in-u-s-.html

david t

Crime is lower than it's ever been. Air is cleaner than it's every been (despite still being really dirty). The art scene is probably among the most dominant in the world. But LA politicians still can't get anything done and are simply powerless. There's no rail, no solution to the homeless crisis, education crisis, or immigrant crisis. We just live with it (or move elsewhere which many seem to be doing). What are LA's priorities? I don't know.


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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