When I was entering my teen years in the lower middle-class doldrums of Los Angeles, California, I was embittered by what I imagined was the misfortune of growing up in a place that was brutally ugly and devoid of either history or culture. Never mind that I was fifteen minutes from the Pacific Ocean and not all that much farther from wooded canyons and mountains and desert, my immediate surroundings were nearly identical ranch-style houses hastily assembled over razed orange and avocado groves, supermarkets, gas stations, fast food restaurants, strip malls, and vast parking lots.
I know shockingly little about money, especially where it goes once it leaves my fingertips. And each spring, my anxiety spikes with tax time, RRSP deadlines and the like. I am overwhelmed by the amount that I do not understand. I suspect I’m a lot like the majority of people, so ignorant and embarrassed about my financial illiteracy that, every year, I hand over my meagre savings to a financial advisor with a computer and a necktie.
I’m writing these words on February 11, the same date that storied film critic Pauline Kael published her final column for The New Yorker in 1991. Hobbled by illness and, worse, uninspired by the crop of movies coming out of Hollywood—her final column was devoted to brief takes on Awakenings, L.A.