City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles

This new edition of Mike Davis’s visionary work gives an update on Los Angeles as the city hits the 21st century.

No metropolis has been more loved or more hated. To its official boosters, "Los Angeles brings it all together." To detractors, LA is a sunlit mortuary where "you can rot without feeling it." To Mike Davis, the author of this fiercely elegant and wide- ranging work of social history, Los Angeles is both utopia and dystopia, a place where the last Joshua trees are being plowed under to make room for model communities in the desert, where the rich have hired their own police to fend off street gangs, as well as armed Beirut militias. 

In City of Quartz, Davis reconstructs LA's shadow history and dissects its ethereal economy. He tells us who has the power and how they hold on to it. He gives us a city of Dickensian extremes, Pynchonesque conspiracies, and a desperation straight out of Nathaniel Westa city in which we may glimpse our own future mirrored with terrifying clarity.

In this new edition, Davis provides a dazzling update on the city's current status.


  • “Absolutely fascinating.”
  • “Few books shed as much light on their subjects as this opinionated and original excavation of Los Angeles from the mythical debris of its past and future.”
  • “A history as fascinating as it is instructive.”


  • Space and Power: Celebrating the life of Edward Soja (1940-2015)

    Edward Soja, the acclaimed urbanist and radical geographer, passed away on November 2nd, 2015. Mustafa Dikec, Professor of Urban Studies at Ecole d’Urbanisme de Paris and LATTS, announced his passing on the Critical Geography listserv:

    It is with great sadness that I am writing to tell you that Edward Soja passed away last night in Los Angeles after a long battle with illness. Ed was one of the key figures associated with ‘the spatial turn’ in the 1980s, and his writings on space, spatial justice, and cities have inspired many since then. He will be sorely missed by his friends who knew his warm and genereous personality.

    To celebrate his life and work, we publish an extract from Soja's classic work Postmodern Geographies: the Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory, in which he discusses the production of space and power in Los Angeles.

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  • How Gentrifiers Gentrify: a review of Sylvie Tissot's 'Good Neighbors'

    Writing for 
    Public Books, Max Holleran review Sylvie Tissot's Good Neighbors: Gentrifyinf Diversity in Boston's South End. Praising the books combination of political and cultural investigation, Holleran describes Tissot's powerful analysis of how wealthier 'newcomers' create strong communities of their own - and, in so doing, force out those who once called the neighborhood home.

    October 1, 2015
     — This past spring a new French restaurant opened in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Located on Malcolm X Boulevard, directly across the street from a Crown Fried Chicken, the restaurant—with a menu that includes frog legs and a bottle of Bordeaux that sells for $2,000—is an incongruous new addition to an area of Brooklyn where the median household income is below $35,000. It is named L’Antagoniste, ostensibly for its celebration of the contrarian French personalities pictured on its walls, but neighbors might interpret the name differently.

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  • Sylvie Tissot: Mythologies of the Hipster

    Hatred for hipsters is suspect, and certainly does not help us understand class divisions.

    by Sylvie Tissot

    (image via parisbobo.com)

    The clip was meant to be funny and it is. It appears on one of the numerous blogs that mock hipsters. Two guys are going to a barbecue. On the way in, they encounter men whose beards are longer than theirs and whose shirts are a slightly different color from theirs, although otherwise all seems the same. They turn to each other and shout “wow, a party for hipsters, let’s get out of here!”, while the guests who were already there are heard whispering “who the hell are these hipsters?”. 

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Other books by Mike Davis Photography by Robert Morrow