Slices of Life from LA

Our view of the US at present is obscured by the news, from our position in Europe. Here are dispatches from across the city of Los Angeles, reporting from life on the ground as the skies clear and the initial panic-dust settles. For now.

Wyatt Troll. Age: 30-something
Director of Photography and Photographer.
Position: Los Feliz

  • How would you describe your days in lockdown?
    Los Angeles: it is quiet. the air is clean unlike anything in the last 75 years. the larger % of the population is indoors. It is beautiful. It is also scary.
    My days in lockdown: are an awareness and an awakening to myself and being a human without a societal feedback loop. i.e. why are we here as a conciseness on this planet as we make our next big digital step? what are our choices for what our stories -personal and globally- are going to be?
  • What’s the overall vibe amongst your friends, peers, neighbours and fellow LA ppl?
    Most are pent up , watchful , loving, worried.

    Trends are the same. but as it warms up outside to spring air, something stirs.
  • Do you find the new ways of online life exciting, exhausting, or something else?
    Online life= strange. People are connecting in VR, but its still a weird nascent uncanny valley, or like a low grade drug, where you are left wanting the real thing.
  • If there’s one thing you’re loving right now, what is it?
    I am loving springtime and nature. The park is still open for biking, and because of the heavy rains, spring is springing hardcore:)

Yael Greenberg. Age: 32
Freelance Project Manager and Producer.
Position: Hollywood Dell

  • What’s the situation in LA at present?
    Today is April 23rd.  LA and CA as a whole are doing pretty good in terms of cases – as of today 96 per 100k residents.

    Though we are sheltering in place and keeping social distance rules, we are very lucky to have beautiful weather, and much space, even in our own neighborhoods to go for a stroll or a run, we have our cars to drive around and so overall I think most of us feel far less restricted and locked in.
    I can still see people out and about on my walks or drives, and the supermarket which were emptied out the first few weeks are again stocked and the panic level seemed to have subsided in a meaningful way, I don’t know if its because we adapt so fast or because things are actually better.

    Restaurants are closed but still do delivery and pick up and surprisingly some farmers markets are still open.
  • How would you describe your days in lockdown?
    I work from home anyway so it isn’t a big change but I am surprised by how much time and energy thinking of what to cook, deploying a groceries strategy, cooking and cleaning takes… I am fortunate to live with a friend so we are not lonely, I usually spend time in the morning meditating or writing and then spend the rest of my day working, reading, zoom calls, and talking on the phone a lot…We try to take a walk in the neighborhood once a day, in the weekend a long run. We make nice dinners at night and watch movies. I learned to appreciate all the trees and plants in my vicinity. I was longing before this all began, for some real time off and away but I actually find myself very busy and occupied all day long, Time seems to go by faster somehow.But I would say that the days are very pleasant and enjoyable, I enjoy the quietness and some time to be more of an introvert. I feel more present and energetic than usual.
  • What’s the overall vibe amongst your friends, peers, neighbours and fellow LA ppl?
    I gladly managed to stay pretty calm throughout this experience. There was an initial panic that I believe was mainly the result of not knowing what is going on and what will happen, i think once the mayor gave his first few addresses that calmed people down, for now – some of my friends are using the time to take care of themselves, to slow down, to make art while others are in and out of anxiety and try to keep themselves occupied consistently. At least in my immediate community everyone seem to be handling it all very well and find ways to make the most out of this time.

  • Is there a trend you’ve noticed over the past few days?
    Seems like people are now more accepting of the situation and in some ways maybe a little more lax.  The one thing I noticed is that people seem to be a lot nicer to each other lately.

  • Do you find the new ways of online life exciting, exhausting, or something else?
    I definitely find the endless stream of information and communication at times exhausting… I made a conscious effort to spend little time online so that my screen time isn’t all day long, but I am pleased to see the resourcefulness of people using the digital world to learn, create and connect  – I’m really amazed by all these classes and workshops and parties and groups and concerts.Is this enough in lieu of human connection? – I hope we wont settle for this. but it also freed us from physical restrictions in some ways.

  • If there’s one thing you’re loving right now, what is it?
    The clean air in LA

Janice Stewart. Age: 70-something.
Retiree. New Zealand expat.
Position: Culver City

All fine here – also under “Stay at Home” directions – although it is OK to go to supermarket, etc., provided we are wearing masks – and of course willing to stand in lines.   I have found that 7.00 a.m. trips work best as less people and easy check-out.
My kiwi friend and I have actually been making masks for friends and neighbors – so that keeps us out of trouble now and then.
Group of five gals from our exercise class, etc., have Happy Hour at 5.00 p.m. each night – all in our own homes and connecting via Facetime. Bit of a laugh and keeps us in touch. I actually had an early happy hour on the front lawn of one of my neighbors yesterday – just three of us spread out across the lawn and sipping on wine. Was one of our first lovely sunny spring days – so we made the most of it.
We can take walks although no forests near us!   Our beaches are closed so no walking there which is something we all miss.
Our exercise instructor does classes via Zoom Meetings twice a week and that is rather fun.   However, some of the olds have a problem working out how to mute their phones or laptops and we unfortunately get to see and hear them instead of our instructor.    There is also plenty of exercise classes on Utube and taking advantage of that as well. Still putting on weight though – as of course I eat when bored!
My godson’s family in the Caymans also keeps in touch and they plan a Facetime call today. Always fun to see them along with their 9 yr old daughter.
NZ seems to be doing very well in flattening the curve – as have the five other countries with women Prime Ministers. At least they do not have to put up with the insane ravings of the Crazy Orange Bozo the Clown who seems to think he runs this country. Such an embarrassment, but unfortunately his supporters still think he is some type of messiah and we will probably be stuck with him for another four years.

Victor Bumbalo. Age: 70-something.
Novelist, Screen Writer, AIDs activist, and Buddhist Monk.
Position: West Hollywood

Would love to answer your questions and talk about this at some point. But right now, I am swamped doing online teaching where I have to read at least a hundred pages each week of students’ scripts. Then there are the three hour zoom classes and 10 hours of phone sessions with them.
Also, I’m at the final stages of editing my book to give to my agent.
So…I’ve cut down on texting and sending detailed emails. I hope you understand.
Please keep in touch.
But understand that my responses will be quick and simple.
Take good care of yourself.


Jess Henderson

Jess Henderson, founder of No Fun and Outsider, is an independent writer and researcher based in Zürich and Amsterdam. She is the author of Offline Matters: The Less-Digital Guide to Creative Work (Amsterdam: BIS Publishers, 2020), and is currently undertaking the first transdisciplinary study of the burnout.