Episode 59: Los Angeles, CA

Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 59: Los Angeles, CA

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Transcript:

Los Angeles, CA, is often called LA. It is a very large city on the coast of southern California. It is made up of many smaller towns that have become part of it. Some people think that Los Angeles and Hollywood are the same place. That is only partly true. Hollywood was a smaller town that was added to LA in 1910. Naturally, many people and companies who are part of the film industry live in LA. There is a stereotype that most of the waiters in restaurants in LA are people trying to become famous actors.

Other places you may have heard about that are part of LA include Brentwood, Encino, Watts, Venice Beach, Tarzana, Chinatown, Little Tokyo and Van Nuys. Places you may know that are near LA but not officially part of it are Beverly Hills, Burbank, Santa Monica, Compton, Malibu, Long Beach and Pasadena.

LA is a sprawling city, which means that it takes up a lot of space. It covers 469.1 square miles for about four million people, compared to New York City, which takes up only 302.6 square miles for almost nine million people. Because of this urban sprawl, everyone depends heavily on cars. Because of so many cars, large freeways were built to handle the traffic. Unfortunately, the cars multiplied too fast, and now people say the freeways are parking lots!

Because LA lies on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, it has beaches. But it also has mountains and valleys and very good weather. You may have heard the song that goes, “It never rains in southern California”. Of course that’s not really true, though the weather is usually nice. But long periods of no rain cause droughts, then rain comes and sometimes causes mudslides. In addition, LA lies on the San Andreas Fault, which means there are earthquakes, too. A human-made problem is smog, which is a cloud of air pollution that hangs over the city.

Los Angeles is often called La La Land, partly because of the abbreviation ‘LA’ and partly because the phrase “lala land” means a fantasy place where people who are out of touch with the real world go in their heads. Los Angeles has a reputation for being a place that isn’t quite the same as the real world.

Of course, native tribes such as the Chumash and Tongva lived there before Spanish settlers came in 1769. The Spanish name of the settlement translates as “The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula”. “The angels” in Spanish is “los angeles”, which is now pronounced “Los Angeles” in English.

Los Angeles has one of the most diverse populations in the world, which means that there are many different ethnic groups. More than 90 languages besides English are spoken by people who live in LA. One of the biggest groups is the Latino population, and much of this group has Mexican heritage.

Besides the uniqueness of Hollywood, LA has everything you can imagine in a large city. There are cultural places such as museums, theaters and art galleries plus famous universities such as University of Southern California (USC) and University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). Professional sports teams and major medical centers are located there, too. And the LA airport, called LAX, is one of the most important airports in the world.

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That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also subscribe with any podcast app or feed reader.

Theme music for this podcast is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at www.Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.

Episode 45: Hollywood

Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 45: Hollywood

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Contact me directly via email at info@slowamericanenglish.net. Now for the podcast:

Transcript:

Language note: As you may know, Hollywood, California, is considered the film-making capital of the world. But ‘Hollywood’ can refer to the movie business in general, not just the town. Furthermore, films are also called ‘movies’ or ‘motion pictures’.

History

In 1886, H. J. Whitley founded Hollywood. It was about 12 miles east of the Pacific Ocean and very near the city of Los Angeles, often called L.A. Hollywood became part of L.A. in 1910.

Early in the 1900s, Thomas Edison held most of the patents for making motion pictures. His company was in New Jersey, on the East Coast. His company often stopped others from making movies. To escape this, filmmakers began moving west. Eventually, L.A. became the capital of the film industry.

Good weather, low land prices and nearby settings such as mountains and plains were also reasons Hollywood became the place where film companies, called studios, appeared. Nestor Studio, established in 1912, was the first one. Nestor produced the first Hollywood film using H. J. Whitley’s home as the set.

Early movies had no sound and are now called silent movies. They were shown in theaters with a live piano or organ player who provided a musical background to the film. By the 1930s all movies had sound and were called talking pictures, or talkies.

By the 1930s, there were only a few big film studios, such as MGM, Paramount, Universal, Columbia, RKO and 20th Century Fox. They had their own stages, costume departments and all the staff and equipment necessary to produce a movie. They even owned the theaters across the nation where their movies were shown. They employed actors who had contracts to work only for their studios, too.

However, a federal lawsuit in the 1930s forced the studios to break apart. Because of this and the growing popularity of television, many parts of the big film studios became separate companies. Today, most film production involves many independent companies that supply costumes, sets, etc., and actors are independent, too.

In 1927 film industry leaders formed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In addition to providing many benefits to filmmakers, each spring they present the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars. There is a story that one of the Academy staff said the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar, and that’s why the trophies are known as Oscars.

Hollywood Landmarks

The area just north of Hollywood is called the Hollywood Hills. In 1923, a housing developer built large letters in the Hollywood Hills that spelled HOLLYWOODLAND to advertise a housing development. In 1949, the city of Hollywood made an agreement with L.A. to repair the aging sign. Part of the agreement said the sign would then spell HOLLYWOOD and refer to the city, not the housing development. Today, it’s a famous landmark in Hollywood.

Another famous Hollywood landmark is the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Built in 1927, it’s still a working movie theater, and many movie premieres are shown there. The Oscars were held here from 1944 – 1946.

Just outside the front door of the Chinese Theatre is another famous landmark, the Forecourt of the Stars. There you can see over 200 concrete slabs with imprints of movie stars’ hands, feet and signatures. There are also imprints of other things, such as Harry Potter’s wand and Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger’s hoofprint.

Just beyond the concrete slabs is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There, over 2,600 star shapes containing names of important Hollywood people are embedded in the sidewalk. The Walk of Fame spans 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. It’s a big honor to have a star there.

Next to the Chinese Theatre is the Dolby Theater, built in 2001. Live performances are presented here, not movies. It has one of the largest stages in the US and is designed for television shows. The Oscars have been presented here since it was built.

Of course these are just a few of the many famous landmarks in Hollywood and L.A. I personally have never been there. But I hope we all get a chance to visit and see some of them.

That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, TuneIn and any other podcast feed reader.

Theme music for this podcast is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.