As much as I love Hanoi (wonderful food, throbbing street life, fascinating architectural stamp, magnificent traffic swarms, gentleness and kindness from everyone you run into) the air is nearly as bad as Beijing’s. You look up and it’s all kinds of gray and smoggy, like some kind of simulation of nuclear fallout. Here‘s a recent record of the “very unhealthy” pollution levels. It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting for a few days but your lungs would obviously suffer if you lived there permanently. And yet it’s a great place to be. I’m a fan of certain aspects of Los Angeles culture but visually and atmospherically it doesn’t begin to compare to the wonder of Hanoi. But when I stepped onto the LAX sidewalk today around 4:30 (3:05 landing, 20 minutes on tarmac, 40 minutes to get through customs, another 10 or 15 minutes pick up the bags) it sure was nice to look up and see sunshine and blue sky.

Snapped in West Hollywood — Sunday, 3.27, 5:20 pm.