What it's like to fly over LA, London, Tokyo and Seoul


BoingBoing: new and improved, with ten times the “Asian” fetish.

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I was going to say, “now with there instead of their!”

Man, the new GTA trailer looks awesome!

I’m not sure ‘understanding’ is what results from creating yet another set of aerial stock-footage LA clichés .

The Bunker Hill Towers, the 10/110 interchange by the Convention Center, the Bunker Hill Towers, the Ferris wheel at Santa Monica Pier, the Bunker Hill Towers again, the Hollywood Sign, the Bunker Hill Towers seen from the Hollywood Sign, the refineries of Carson, the Bunker Hill Towers…

The high-rise towers of Bunker Hill are not ‘the city.’ Bunker Hill is about as lively an urban space as the average suburban corporate office park, but with taller buildings.

These days, there are lively urban spaces in downtown LA, but they don’t appear here.

Just the other day on another blog, we were discussing all the cliché shots that hack filmmakers use to establish that the film is set in LA:

  1. The Bunker Hill Towers
  2. The Hollywood Sign
  3. The Griffith Observatory
  4. The Bunker Hill Towers seen from the Hollywood Sign
  5. The Bunker Hill Towers seen from the Griffith Observatory
  6. City Hall
  7. The downtown 4-level freeway stack (101/110)
  8. The downtown loop interchange by the Convention Center (10/110)
  9. The westside “X-wing” interchange (405/10)
  10. The Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier
  11. The Venice Boardwalk
  12. The roller-skating guitar-playing Sikh on the boardwalk.
  13. Surfers surfing.
  14. The Sixth Street Bridge.
  15. The Bunker Hill Towers seen from the Sixth Street Bridge.
  16. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
  17. Olvera Street

This clip includes most of the things on that list that can be done as aerial shots. And almost nothing that isn’t on that list.

Understanding LA would necessarily involve a whole lot of things not on that stock-shot list, since most of those are tourist attractions that the locals mostly ignore.

LA is filled with places and things of beauty and wonder and delight that the tourists never see. It has managed to keep me enchanted for over a third of a century.

And virtually none of that is visible in this film.


Beautiful as it is, this video is a continuation of the long tradition of “white-washing” LA that started with 19th century post cards for tourists.

The film shows downtown, Santa Monica, and the Hollywood sign, but where are the Watt’s towers?

We see the bridges crossing the LA river, but nothing of the vibrant culture those bridges connect to: East LA.

Where are the two ports that are vital to making LA the cosmopolitan global cross-roads it is? ( The ports make for gorgeous aerial shots with the enormous cranes and intricate, interlocked geometries.)

Heck, There aren’t even suburbs in this video, despite the famous quip that “Los Angeles is ninety suburbs in search of a city.”

If you think this video shows more than a narrow, almost cliched view of Los Angeles, you need to step out of your bubble.

(That said, I did enjoy the video. Thank you for sharing it.)


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