Thursday, September 3, 2009

American Smellscapes: Venice Beach

Fragrance blogger Olfacta revisits old haunts in Southern California and finds they look different but smell the same.

One thing hadn’t changed much: the smells. Clouds of incense, rolling out of stores and vans. Patchouli oil-scented skin. Pot. A group of guys walked ahead of us, smoking a blunt, right out on the street, and why not? . . . Sunscreen. Stale urine—ah, Venice!—and overflowing trash bins. Dreadlocked hair. B.O. in every strength and variety. County-fair food from the stalls and restaurants.
She also reflects on scent and time:
I think that we use scents as references because, in a way, we have to. The visuals change so quickly now, faster and faster. It is scent that slows down time, reminds us in that incomparably visceral way that we’re still here, that the past did exist, that it’s there to be called upon, and it’s free.
Read the whole thing.


Olfacta said...

Wow, thanks! I'm honored!

Avery Gilbert said...


I liked your post for two reasons.

One, I'm a big fan of locality-specific smellscapes; and having grown up in the Central Valley and Bay Area this LA scene is novel to me.

Two, you have a thoughtful point of view about smellscapes being part of life as lived, and how they anchor our experience and memory.

Keep it up!