LA the Other

In lieu of summer vacations, my dad used to take me with him on business trips.   By the time I was twelve I had broken out of the five-state area and been to New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.  I vowed to live in the first, became immediately sentimental about the second, and never saw the point of the third.

Now, visiting LA and having spent my adult life in New York City, I have a theory about the migratory habits of those of us born between the coasts.  People go to LA to get famous, they come to New York to become the best at what they do.   Admittedly, there are certain people, usually born to each of these cities, who defy my stereotype.  As far as Angelinos go, these are the people I’ve made my friends.

That’s right, I’m in Hollywood.  I’m not taking meetings or pitching preposterous studio woo; I’m on vacation.  I was promised warm, sunny weather and dinner parties.  There would be tennis and lunch at Asia de Cuba.  I was invited to Pasadena for hiking and tea at the Huntington Library.  I could fly Jet Blue.  Yeah, I used to hate LA.  Now I just can’t stand to drive here.

The one thing I was always partial to about this place was LA the Other.  Some genius won a grant to fly Spalding Gray out from New York and provide him with an assistant to schlep him around, all under the mandate of finding locals who were in no way involved in the film industry or pursuing any such involvement.  Can you imagine what he had to go through to locate such individuals?  Then he would interview them on stage—that was the act.  Of course, I never saw it, but the stories were outrageous and, well, the mind just reels.

I do not have an assistant, but to my surprise I know enough people here to be carted around to my heart’s content.  I never think that any of my friends are in the movie business, except one or two, but you always end up in the mix somehow.  Bullshit walks the streets personified.  The more I visit, I find the New York mentality in context to LA living more amusing than anything else.  Spalding Gray and his questions were undoubtedly more entertaining than many of the specimens or their answers.

So, here is a taste of my LA the Other:

My friend Katherine at her desk, where she writes novels, not screenplays.

Katherine’s marvelous view.

My friend Russell’s cat Jasper, who loves me, and my new computer.

Russell’s splendid back yard.

The lemon trees Russell let me climb and harvest even though no one could possibly drink that much lemonade.

This ends your celebrity-free experience…for now.


Hillery eventually learned not to say everything that came to mind. Some were too good not to write down.

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