I Love L.A.

… and unlike Randy Newman, I don’t mean that ironically.  When I finally made the move out west in my early 20s, the only reason I had any desire to live out here was to break into the movie business.  As I think I might have mentioned elsewhere, I was determined to give it a year.  I’m still here over a decade later.  And you know what?  If I suddenly gave up the Hollywood dream today, I still would stay.  Much to my shock, La-La Land has become, well… home.

Sure, there’s plenty to hate about the place — the traffic, the ridiculous cost of living, the traffic, the smog, the traffic, the jaw-dropping obnoxiousness of many of the moneyed folk who have turned the westside into a giant yuppie playground, the traffic, the seemingly willful shallowness of, well, almost everybody else… have I mentioned the traffic?  Yeah, plenty to hate, indeed.

But so what?  Last time I checked, Manhattan and Chicago weren’t exactly asshole-free zones.  You’re going to run into fakes and flakes in every city of the Union — L.A. may seem to have the corner of the market, but it’s just because the knuckleheads are better lit out here. 

In a way, living in Los Angeles is like going to a large but undistinguished state university: you get what you put into it.  I’ve heard the argument that it’s nothing but a suburban wasteland without any culture, but you just have to dig a little deeper than maybe you would in, say, SoHo.  Okay, the Pantages Theater doesn’t exactly give Broadway a run for its money, but Hollywood is littered with great little theaters if drama is your thing.  LACMA is no Museum of Natural History, but hey, we’ve got the La Brea tar pits next door —  the dinosaur display is submerged in millions of gallons of black muck instead of sitting there for you to see.  So you have to use your imagination!

Okay, so maybe that’s a stretch.  But I can say that as far as cinema goes, L.A. has the rest of the world beat, hands down.  From the New Beverly Cinema to the Fox in Westwood to the Egyptian and Aero Theatres to the screenings at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a movie lover can find something different to see virtually every night, if he or she feels so inclined.  Music aficionados would have a field day; as a die-hard rock geek, the only thing I love more than catching a movie is catching a show or hitting Amoeba Records.  Book lovers are sort of in trouble, but there are still some killer used book stores on Melrose.  Foodies will bust a gut.  You get the idea.

I know  — NYC and the Windy City and Seattle and any other major metropolitan area can offer many of the same things… but not the way L.A. delivers.  And then there’s the whole Hollywood dilemma: do you have to live out here to make it in the film business?  That’s a complicated question, and the only way I can answer it is, Yes, you do have to live out here to make it… if that’s the path you choose.  Some writers can’t write a word once they’re out here — call it the Barton Fink Syndrome.  Others flourish.  The odd gravitational pull of Tinseltown affects everyone in slightly different ways; for whatever reason, the city sucked me in so deep, I can’t imagine returning to the east coast. 

In a weird way, I found myself in this sprawling, exasperating urban mess; I followed my dreams out to the edge of the Pacific, made some friends, fell in love with the woman who became my wife and now we’re setting down roots and raising a family.  It ain’t perfect by a long shot, but sometimes, when it’s after midnight and I’m coming out of the Troubadour or the El Rey after a concert and I’m cruising along Olympic Boulevard, listening to KCRW over the ringing in my ears and the empty, starkly lit street looks beautifully eerie, like something out of a Michael Mann movie only better because it’s real life, and the Missus and now our little girl are waiting for me at home, I think to myself, Jeez, it really doesn’t get much better than this. 

For me, that’s certainly the case…. and, astoundingly, it doesn’t even involve landing a six-figure script sale.

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3 Comments on “I Love L.A.”

  1. Robb Says:

    14 Apple Stores
    4 IKEA stores
    0 country radio

    I love L.A.

  2. Bert Says:

    14 Country Music Stations
    4 Rednecks per household
    0 Culture

    I hate Jacksonville, FL.

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