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Los Angeles Pop Culture

There's an almost ridiculous number of films and books about aspects of Los Angeles. Starting with all three versions of A Star is Born, Sunset Boulevard, Rebel Without a Cause, any of the beach movies starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello: Chinatown, Shampoo, Pretty Woman, The Two Jakes, LA Story, The Player, Get Shorty, Swingers, LA Confidential and Crash all add to the picture. The classic LA book remains Nathanel West's Day of the LocustAsk the Dust by John Fante is another. Maybe it's the mystery writers who've done the best job of capturing LA, especially Raymond Chandler. More recently, James Ellroy, Michael Connelly and Robert Crais write evocative mysteries that race across the Los Angeles landscape. Joan Didion's essays in Slouching Toward Bethlehem and White Album are excellent, and her novel Play It as It Lays is a classic of L.A. ennui. Reyner Banham wrote the classic book about LA architecture, Los Angeles: the Architecture of Four Ecologies. Carey McWilliam wrote some brilliant books about California: Southern California, An Island in the Land, and The Great Exception. More recently, Kevin Starr has written seminal books on California history that include Los Angeles. Music? There are too many songs to list, but there are some classics like California Dreamin' by the Mamas and Papas, anything by the Eagles or anything by the Beach Boys.