I have a favorite person whom I have known for 15 years, since he came to Los Angeles, fresh-faced and smiling, out of Arkansas and onto Zelzah Avenue in Encino where he tried his hand at acting and improving at the Groundlings.
Sadly, he left here and went to graduate school at NYU, got married, got children and got divorced.
His name and accomplishments have danced across my computer screen as his Facebook friends have grown to over 1200 people and at various times he has credits as a writer, screenwriter, producer and columnist.
And last night I saw him for about 1.5 hours, for the first time in seven years, and we met in a crowded bar on Santa Monica Boulevard where you can only valet park, and he was with a friend, a friend with an iphone who was texting continually and the three of us went to another bar on Fairfax where more people joined us and I was the only one who was born north of the Mason-Dixon line and the conversation revolved around projects in development and people who were waiting to hear some confirmation of some impending entertainment job that was supposed to happen but had not. Y’all know the story…..it’s called Hollywood.
Narcissist that I am, I stared into mirrors of the bar, and compared and contrasted myself to last night’s companions.
I know I haven’t reached any level of professional accomplishment in my own life, and that screenplay I should have sold has never sold, and that book I should have completed has not been written, and those titles and jobs I might have climbed into and those incomes I might have earned have not been earned, but somehow, against those obstacles of my own making, I have become happier in the past few years.
And I think I know why.
I don’t work in entertainment. I really don’t. I write a blog. I take photos.
And it is refreshing. I see myself and I see Los Angeles as entities with possibility and hope whose fulfillment does not depend on someone working at MGM, Sony, Sundance, AMC or E!
People who live in Los Angeles but do not work in entertainment, these people are generally better off financially, ethically and psychologically.
On Mullholland, driving west, they can see the hills and the orange sun setting without the big lips and huge face of Angelina Jolie darkening the dusk. The earth is older than Hollywood and will be here years after man has vanished.
But for today, if only Hollywood and its poisons could be taken out of the bloodstream of Los Angeles, the city could be experienced for what it is, honestly, fervently, innocently.
To just live here without an entertainment agenda or ulterior motives is liberating.
I drove yesterday, in the bright sun, with the dry winds blowing, and had lunch with friends, and I stopped into my favorite clothing store, General Quarters, and chatted with Blair Lucio.
Blair envisioned, imagined, created, and opened a perfect little traditional men’s store. He doesn’t hop and jump and whore himself for publicity. He was not keen on me asking him if I could borrow some of his clothes for shoot. He doesn’t want to loan anything out because he has a few pieces and he intends to sell them.
He may succeed and he may not. I certainly hope he does. But his methods have garnered my admiration because they are true. Unlike the Hollywood wanderers…
And tomorrow and the day after I will talk and text with Hollywood people, the people who think they will become the next big thing and make love to Andy Cohen or get backslapped on-stage by Simon Cowell, or work in a bright writer’s room on a dark show about zombies, vampires or detectives. Some will pick up the microphone and lay down tracks, and others will Twitter incessantly, hoping that fate will bend to ego and self-promotion. They will be enacting and working on the self-destructive and futile passion of pursuing a career in Holllywood.