After traveling all over the world and now working my way across America from New York to Chicago to Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Vegas, Palm Springs, and finally hitting the Pacific Ocean, there was just one place left for me to go: Hollywood, baby. Sure, I’d been there at least half a dozen times and never actually loved it, but my good friend, Mark, had moved out there to pen screenplays and his couch was just begging me to come sleep on it.
I learned there are some pros and cons to this odd world of schmoozing, cruising, and boozing:
- Pros: It’s always sunny. It’s always warm. There’s always a kind of ‘hollywood’ buzz in the air. If you are not from any kind of city there is a lot to do – museums, beaches, cafes, shopping, and ethnic ‘hoods.
- Cons: It’s always sunny. It’s always warm. In other words, if you like any kind of ‘weather’ it ain’t here. L.A. is not really a city per se in the grander sense of the word. Unlike New York, Chicago, London, Paris or Hong Kong, L.A. has no thriving city center nor does it have great public transportation. Unfortunately, this is a place where a prerequisite is a gas-guzzling, air-polluting motor vehicle. And, as the smog attests to, everyone drives everywhere. L.A. is not a walkable city. In fact it is more like one big spread out suburb sprawling out across the land with a schlocky amalgamation of shopping plazas and mini malls chock a block with 7-11s, donut shops, nail salons and ubiquitous hamburger joints dotting each corner. I don’t find it a pretty city unless you have a lot of cash to purchase one of the amazing homes here or you catch a glimpse of the snow-capped mountain views the ‘day’ of the year that the smog lifts.
As I mentioned, LA is home to some strikingly beautiful, if not enormous, homes. You can find any architectural style you like: orange-stucco, red-tile roofed, bougainvillea covered Spanish-Mediterranean villas; the clean lines and right-angles of a Mid-Century Modern party pad; the lovely wood-shingled, low roof-lined California bungalow homes of the Craftsman movement with their exposed beams, natural wood and stone materials; or a gaudy, comically-huge gated estate in Beverly Hills complete with gardeners and housekeepers to be your friends (in case you are a wealthy shut-in popping Prozac and other modern meds on a daily basis).
Millions of dollars are just spent on landscaping alone. Everyday it seems the population of the wealthy enclaves of Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Bel Air, and the Hollywood Hills doubles as Hispanic landscapers scurry about trimming, cutting, planting, blowing, and edging the perfectly manicured gardens and lawns complete with trickling fountains, winding stone paths and fragrant gardenias.
Besides the gaggles of gardeners, there is a class of people here loitering about I like to call the Daytimers: moms, nannies, mailmen, joggers, and what appears to be half the population of LA; folks sipping lattes at Starbucks, chatting into the air on their hands free devices, texting incessantly, and click-clacking away at their laptops. What do these people do for a living? Oh, yeah, I’m one of them now.
Los Angeles is definitely a unique place where life revolves around ‘the biz.’ If you don’t work in the entertainment industry, then you are probably a gardener to someone who does. There is no avoiding the in-your-face marketing blitz for movies and TV shows here: a 7-story high movie poster draped over an entire building, ‘smoking’ billboards for the James Franco/Seth Rogen summer release of ‘Pineapple Express‘, buses wrapped in ads for the new ‘90210′ and even planes flying overhead with banners telling us to watch the oh-so-boring reality show, ‘Tori and Dean.’
But since I was spending the summer in Hollywood, I figured I better act like it and live the LA lifestyle.
So besides running and working out nearly everyday to get that size zero body that everyone here covets, I had to immerse myself in all things LA.
This started with working up a sweat poolside with the ‘affected’ crowd. Mark’s apartment complex has a very swanky pool and spa area so might as well take advantage of it while I was here and pretend to live the ‘luxe’ life. Any given day here you can see a microcosm of LA life.
The men are pumped up, bronzed, glistening and mostly gay or… just cocky. The girls are all actress-wannabees: plasticky, stick-thin, big-boobed, tiny-waisted and always texting someone. I guess those are the ones who learned how to do rebus puzzles in 2nd Grade: C U L8R. One day I even saw a beautiful starlet with super long flowing perfectly curled platinum blonde Playboy-bunny locks wearing her kitten-heels while she was lying in the sun as if she was on a photo shoot. Except she… wasn’t. Ah, Hollywood. It’s hard to not try to get in shape here… either that or constantly compare yourself to these androids and lose all self-confidence, self-esteem, self-respect and bury yourself in your million-dollar-mansion and hope the gardener finds you somewhat attractive.