Mike Davis, ‘City of Quartz’ author who chronicled the forces that shaped L.A., dies at 81
Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY | USATODAY
When author and journalist Kevin Johnson was growing up in the 1960s, his childhood was almost completely shaped by Los Angeles. “I thought of it as the city where you could be as adventurous and as alive as you liked,” said Johnson, who wrote and co-directed the movie “City of Quartz” based on his book of the same name. “You could be the first one to do anything, or you could go to school. Those were all options.”
Now, with his health failing, Johnson is calling L.A. home, though he never stopped writing or reporting. He is leaving behind his own imprint, “Los Angeles: A City Under the Stars and the City Under the Earth,” to write the book that he began in 2002: “The City Under the Satellites: How the Los Angeles Area Became America’s Largest City.”
His new book is to be published May 2 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The title: “City of Quartz: L.A.’s Fight for Survival, and How It Endured.”
“He fought every day to make this a real city,” said longtime friend and fellow Los Angeles writer Jon Healey, who has written of Johnson’s work for USA TODAY. “He never stopped. And now he’s going to be gone. He was the most amazing guy I’ve ever met.
“There was this amazing quality about him. He knew that there was something special about L.A., something that was hard to express, but that he knew his city would be his legacy, his legacy is something that was unique to him.
“He was a fighter,” said Healey. “He wanted to make the city better and to be part of it. He wanted people to know he was with them. That’s something that he never stopped