Octavio Paz lived in Los Angeles during the late 1940s. Below is an excerpt from his book The Labyrinth of Solitude.
When I arrived in the United States I lived for awhile in Los Angeles, a city inhabited by over a million persons of Mexican origin. At first sight, the visitor is surprised not only by the purity of the sky and the ugliness of the dispersed and ostentatious buildings, but also by the city’s vaguely Mexican atmosphere, which cannot be captured in words or concepts. This Mexicanism – delight in decorations, carelessness and pomp, negligence, passion and reserve – floats in the air. I say “floats” because it never mixes or unites with the other world, the North American world based on precision and efficiency. It floats, without offering any opposition; it hovers, blown here and there by wind, sometimes breaking up like a cloud, sometimes standing erect like a rising skyrocket. It creeps, it wrinkles, it expands and contracts; it sleeps or dreams; it is ragged but beautiful. It floats, never quite existing, never quite vanishing.