Issue #43 (March 1985)
Everyone insisted I was crazy to want to spend my vacation there, but I was adamant. I got only two weeks off a year, and I wanted to spend them in the city of my dreams.
I was told the air fare alone would bankrupt me. I was told there would be no accommodations available. I was worried about drinking the water (did they even have any?), eating the food; about the widespread poverty, pockets where the rich lived like kings and queens, rampant drug abuse. I knew I would probably be mugged and robbed during my two-week stay. I went anyway.
Of course, the horror stories I had been told were wrong. Conditions were much, much worse. I stepped off the plane and a police officer, gun drawn, greeted me with the words, "Welcome. Do you have friends or relatives here, or do you prefer lodgings in the city jail?"
People seemed to be a little nervous, possibly because of the festivities that were underway. I replied that I had hotel reservations. The man in blue just laughed. I produced my hotel confirmation. He escorted me to his police car, drove me there, and even went in with me, just to make sure.
All the windows in the hotel were made of bullet-proof glass and were locked. That didn't bother me. But when the pool and golf course were declared off limits because of the likelihood that anti-government terrorists could have been hiding in them, I knew I just had to find out what these festivities were all about.
It was a high school track meet! A bunch of teenagers were running around performing all sorts of ridiculous stunts. Or was this training for some type of clandestine guerrilla warfare? Nobody spoke English, so my questions went unasked and unanswered.
I had, however, seen all I wanted to see. The next time I decide to visit Los Angeles, I will make sure the city is not hosting those silly Olympic games!
Susan Packie teaches anthropology at Malcolm-King College, which is located in America's premier anthroplogical site, New York City. She has had her work published in more than 80 magazines.