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Searching for the Essence of L.A.

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Another East Coast editorial trying to understand Los Angeles hit the New York Times last week: "Something escapes me about Los Angeles. Wherever I go, I always imagine I’m finally going to grasp its essence."

That got LA Times columnist Hector Tobar thinking. "New Yorkers have long been perplexed by L.A.," he said. So he called up native Angeleno Tomas Benitez, who "said he believes he stumbled upon the secret of L.A. one evening in the 1980s, when he drove with his young daughter from the Eastside to the Pacific Ocean, almost 30 miles along old Brooklyn Avenue [now Cesar Chavez Avenue] and Sunset Boulevard." It was a drive of "taco stands, transvestites, iconic nightclubs and faux Roman villas."

"Finding the essence of L.A. is not meant to be easy," Benitez said.