I often wonder what people who aren’t from here get out of a trip to Los Angeles. Like what’s so wonderful that it makes up for the grey blue heated sky work for other people. It cant only be me whose retinas are permanently damaged from the pollutants. What’s so wonderful that it makes up for sitting hours on end in a car thinking of sitting hours on end thinking about the hours, etc.
One of my best friends lives down the street from the Broadway tunnel where countless unimaginative shots have been filmed of various motored vehicles crashing in a fiery blaze and other such cliches. My kids refer to Santa Monica beach as theirs and seem puzzled to always find it in films they watch. My daughter says, “Is that the only beach people can film? Geez.”
I stood through a coffeehouse poetry reading in North Hollywood where the majority of the performers seemed slightly bitter that they hadn’t been discovered yet. Others were trying out their stand up. Others stopped in and out on the way to AA. Everyone wants to invent a new despondent story and no one seems to be up on their Nathanael West or their John Fante. Every feeling you have has been done and done better. Will yourself not to have those feelings. They aren’t original. They aren’t even an homage.
Los Angeles is where you become jaded. Yeah, we get it. I’m too old and I’ve visited too many times too long. I don’t have those sorts of questions anymore that I did when I was younger. And I can never be the waitress I had on Hillhurst that was from Nebraska and came out after graduation and smiles at us brightly though we can do nothing for the acting career she doesn’t have yet. If you aren’t from here you come out here because you think you can do something, because the sun shine will save you, because it has no seasons so you never grow old and die. That was our waitress. Three more months and she’ll be discovered; she’s sure of it.
But if you’re from here you have no such illusion. You know the difference. You know you won’t make it–precisely because you are from here. This town isn’t meant to be lived in like that.