The latest edition of Los Angeles Road Concerts, an annual daylong art/performance/music/literary event that takes over the entire length of one of the city’s iconic boulevards, took place on Mulholland Drive yesterday. It was very cleverly named Mulholland Dérive, after a Situationist strategy for combating the numbing effects of capitalism. In the words of theorist Guy Debord, “In a dérive [people] drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.”
It’s a sexy proposition, and previous incarnations of the Road Concerts (taking place on Sunset Boulevard, Washington Boulevard, and San Fernando Road) have been filled with an exuberant, untamed diversity that reflected the nature of the city and its varied inhabitants. This year’s adventure was markedly different; in place of the gritty, unpredictable urban sprawl that characterizes the other streets, Mulholland is a rarefied, bucolic wonderland of uniform class privilege, closely patrolled by a phalanx of park rangers. The long ridge drive that extends from Hollywood to the Pacific Ocean is populated by wealthy home owners, obnoxious Porsche drivers, and a series of state-owned overlooks that provide stunning views as well as the sting of authority.