Kevin Recommends: “Los Angeles” by X

People here in Calgary ask me all the time, “Why would you ever want to move here from LA? It’s like you gave up paradise.” One of the answers I always give, right after “pollution” or “overcrowding” or “the Orange Menace” is “it’s actually pretty racist there.”

I didn’t grow up in Los Angeles proper. I grew up mostly in a suburb now called Jurupa Valley, sitting on the edge of the Inland Empire, which, for the unfamiliar, is the interior part of Southern California. It’s a place where a bunch of Okies washed up during the Dust Bowl in order to work better land. In many cases they carried socially conservative, often racist ideals with them, which led to an abundance of white racists putting down roots in sunny California (fun fact: one town over from mine, Fontana, drew so many white supremacists to it that it was considered to be official territory of the Ku Klux Klan). The Inland Empire was, and to an extent still is, a bastion of racism and hatred.

After a while, though, they got hit by a wave of cultural diversity expanding ever outward from Los Angeles. It’s led to some changes in the IE for sure — these days our member of the House of Representatives, Mark Takano, is an openly gay man of Japanese descent (woo progress!) — but it still ain’t perfect there by any means. Can’t have growth without significant pain I guess.

Today’s recommendation, “Los Angeles” by X, has some pretty damn problematic lyrics (white folks using racist epithets, which is a subject to explore another time) and, as such, comes with a warning. The lyrics use this hostile and racist language to explore the mind of exactly the type of person I was sick to fucking death of being around when I moved away from Jurupa Valley. Punk rockers gonna punk rock with their lyrics, and these dudes pull no punches when providing a portrait of a bigoted woman (rumored to be frontwoman Exene Cervenka’s roommate at the time). You have been warned.


(Song recommendation by Kevin D. Woodall)

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