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Asian Migration and Global Cities

Anne Cong-Huyen, Jonathan Young Banfill, Katherine Herrera, Samantha Ching, Natalie Yip, Thania Lucero, Randy Mai, Candice Lau, Authors

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L.A. Songs: Funtimes in Babylon

Father John Misty, or J. Tillman, is a singer songwriter currently based out of Laurel Canyon. Before coming to L.A. he was based out of Seattle (where I am from) and was part of the band Fleet Foxes. His solo material as Tillman was dark and sad, much like the Seattle weather. He moved south to L.A. and tried on a new name, and with the name a new persona, steeped in a kind of mythic L.A. psychedelic re-birth. The result was the album, Fear Fun (2012).

Misty is a larger than life character and his songs take tell stories that drop in names of places and objects around L.A. One is called Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings and has a music video starring Aubrey Plaza, another mentions being a Dodgers fan and sees an "ancient hero" on the Sunset Strip. 

I was listening to this album a lot in the months before moving to L.A., and the songs seemed to mirror and prophesize my own southbound migration. And with that all the possibilities in moving to a new city--narratives of moving to L.A. and the ambitions and dreams attached to that is another rich vein of texts that can be followed.

No song on the album though represents this more than the first, Funtimes in Babylon, with its refrain of "Look out Hollywood here I come". How many people have said just such a thing? And what has happened to them as they are absorbed into the city? 

Los Angeles is a modern day Babylon and the songs surreal quasi-apocalyptic visions illustrate that point well. 

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