My Summer Before the Start of Law School

Chris Kissel is an LLS student blogger.

In the summer in Los Angeles, electricity runs through the pavement. It pulls surfers to the beach, couples to the gardens of Griffith Observatory, families to the picnic grills and cool grass at Hollenbeck Park. I felt it this summer. On a few bright Sunday mornings, I brought crates of records to a rooftop restaurant to spin for the brunch crowd. I sweated through long, late shifts at the bar where I worked, then watched my friends make music in shifty, cobbled-together spaces. I visited Vicente Pedraza, the man who once ran the influential cumbia sonidera label Discos Barba Azul, at his Santee Alley stall. And Arshia Haq, who, visited Pakistan and came back to L.A. with her own deeply spiritual recordings of Sufi music. (Both allowed me to share their stories in L.A. Weekly.) I brought some of my favorite musicians together in the basement of a restaurant in Chinatown for one transcendent night of music. We stood in the back alley between sets, across from the restaurant cooks taking their breaks, smoking their cigarettes, and talked about our plans.

The news this summer was dire. We watched young people gather under a banner of hate in Charlottesville, then listened with dismay as our president validated them. Closer to home, L.A.’s neighborhoods boiled over with anxiety about displacement and gentrification. Our city’s homelessness crisis seemed worse than ever. It became clear that DACA, the federal program that allows those who entered the U.S. as children to go to school and work without fear of deportation, was the President’s latest target, with 100,000 of our Angeleno neighbors in the crosshairs. The freedom of a Los Angeles summer is intoxicating, but I start school at Loyola with profound excitement — the feeling that I’ll gain an education that will help me do my part to make this city even more just, more equal, more electric.