Los Angeles was the most glamorous, tackiest, most elegant, seediest, most clever, dumbest, most beautiful, ugliest, forward-looking, retro-thinking, altruistic, self-absorbed, deal-savvy, politically ignorant, artistic-minded, criminal-loving, meaning-obsessed, money-grubbing, laid-back, frantic city on the planet. And any two slices of it, as different as Bel Air and Watts, were nevertheless uncannily alike in essence: rich with the same crazy hungers, hopes, and despairs.

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