From "Smogtown" to a model for the world?

The smell of smog makes me nostalgic. My Proustian madeleine moment is walking down the jet stairs to the tarmac at the Burbank airport on a warm day. That particular whiff of ozone and automobile exhaust combined with vaguely sweet overtones of citrus, chaparral, and hot asphalt gets me every time. I'm a kid again in the 1960s or 1970s, visiting my grandparents in Pasadena, when you couldn't see the San Gabriel Mountains from Vroman's Bookstore, which my grandfather owned and ran with his cousins.

A lot has changed since then. Being able to see the mountains most days of the year is one of the most visible counter-narratives to the lamentations about California's demise that every generation seems to relish here. Not to mention breathing the air.

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