Remembering Edward W. Soja and the Los Angeles School

This tribute was originally published in Volume 23 (2017) of The Critical Planning Journal

How will I remember Ed Soja? So many words and descriptions come to mind. A friendly bear of a man. Belligerent and bloody-minded. Garrulous and opinionated. Witty, funny, crotchety, critical. Driven by an itching curiosity and a towering intellect. A rascal. When I think of him, I usually return to those days when our paths intersected most intensely, in the 1980s and 1990s, during the fabled rise of the Los Angeles School.

I first met Ed in the late 1970s, when I sought him out during a short visit to LA. These were the days before he had published his famous ‘socio-spatial dialectic’ paper. As always, he was welcoming, generous with his time, and verbal. After I moved to LA in 1985, I met Ed’s wife Maureen for the first time when I joined the long stream of visitors which were a permanent feature of their Mar Vista home. Maureen was an amazing host with a vivid temperament of her own. Together, they could be an intimidating duo, like an irresistible tag-team in a wrestling bout. I can never think of Ed without Maureen wafting into view with a beverage in hand.

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