I feel like doing a little something off the map for me. It's something that's been stewing in my head, the words marinating until they are glazed by a thin layer of self-righteousness and cynicism. I've been living in the fine and fair city of Los Angeles for a long time now. My entire life, actually. I grew up (as did many of my close friends) going to the same grocery stores, malls, movie theaters, and clubs as the famous people that pepper the more affluent parts of this town. I've been inconvenienced by on-site filming down the streets I grew up in as a child. I nary turn an eye as film crews and police motorcades casually roll past, most certainly filming something for a television show. I've come across people from all walks of life in this great city. A young woman from Portland, Oregon who came down and out of the breathtaking beauty of the American Northwest to become...an actress. A young man from Houston, Texas leaves the immense landscape and conservative ideals of the Lonestar State to further (or begin) his career as...an actor. A young man from Pennsylvania drinks chai and explains to me his life-long dream of becoming...a producer! I'm shocked at how quickly nearly every out-of-towner has adopted the cynical jaded inflection of L.A. natives. Their deadpan when they explain to me the entire reason the uprooted themselves from their hometowns strikes me both as sad and endearing. There is a tone of coolness and resignation, though it's coupled with an awareness of how cliche they sound. Of course you're from out of town. Well, of course you want to get in "The Industry". Almost always, there is little in the way of explication, and they most immediate question is "...so what do you do? Are you from here?", and the answer is always "I'm from L.A. What do I do? I work.". I am personally no longer shocked when I meet a transplanted actor, but frequently I surprise my party when I explain I am a native. As if they are shocked to not only meet someone who grew up around all of this superficiality and excess, but who has nothing at all to do with "The Industry".
I'm not complaining about transplanted actors. My girlfriend is one (hi, love!). To live in Los Angeles and complain about transplanted actors would be like complaining about illegal immigrants here. Silly. What I'm complaining about are the notions and perceptions many out-of-towners bring with them concerning the behaviour and lifestyles we lead here. There is this unfair misconception of losangelinos being fickle, scatterbrained, superficial, indulgent, sophomoric industry rats clawing at each other from scraps. The most prominent facade of the culture of L.A. is presented to us by the entertainment industry. The Entertainment Industry invades every facet of our lives, every one of us. from Omaha to Sanduskee, From Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. We as losangelinos are fortunate. Having grown up with the industry saturating our lives, we have, I'd like to believe- become quietly immune to it. The L.A. breed of cynicism is really the new cool. Growing up in one of the epicenters of cool (and where most rules of cool were written and documented), many of us just don't notice anymore. Some of us are not so fortunate. If you have not been able to insulate yourself from the gilded-dream sequences Hollywood and Madison Ave. inundate us in on a daily basis, you may actually believe we all act like Robert Downey Jr. and Charlie Sheen from Monday to Sunday, sun-up to sundown. God! L.A. must look like Shangri-fucking-La to some babyballs kid from outta Toledo County School District's best drama department with a sack full of money and a head full of dreams. This whole big-fish-in-a-small-pond-out-to-sea may seem cliche, but it happens on a daily basis here. Along with their naivety, these transplants also bring their notions of cool which aren't really theirs. They were force-fed down their throats.
I'm getting to my point. The point I'm trying to make is L.A. is L.A. because of what people who aren't native to L.A. think L.A. is all about. And it isn't their fault. They are presented images and soundbites, inflections and unspoken rules about social conduct. Many people learn how to act with one another from television, movies. If this is starting to sound cyclical, it's because it is. Los Angeles revels in presenting this image of itself and people attracted to those ideals and notions flock here in droves. Personally, the calling of actor, actress does not appeal to me in the slightest, and this is mostly due to my modest sensibilities and fierce sense of privacy. I've never actually asked anyone why they want to act when they've explained to me what their doing here. I regret that. I cannot understand it. But it is most frequently these transplants who seem so eager to present an image of Los Angeles. They posture and inflect hyper-cool mannerisms and command a knowledge of all that which is cool about my town. They crowd the hippest, ritziest spots adorned with Affliction shirts, Hugo Boss cologne, Coach and Louis Vuitton bags, high heels and make-up, trying so desperately to impress each other, trying to pierce each others invisible cloak of pseudo-cool, draped about them like the latest fashion accessory because that's exactly what it is.
These aspects of L.A. will never change. The entertainment industry generates so much money for the city, if it were to shut down tomorrow this town would implode. As I just illustrated, it's easy to complain about the shallowness and superficiality that is simply a part of this city. But you take the good with the bad. I'm glad I live where I live, despite all her faults. I've seen the ugly parts of this city and most of 'em are gilded with gold. It's cool to hate L.A. It's cliche to say it's cool to hate L.A. It's the same thing you'll hear from those transplants I been talking about. They'll discuss, in the same breath they used to tell me their career path how disgusted they are by the excess and shallowness of this town, even as they lay in her bed, sup of her bread and water in only the finest restaurants, even as the soak the sun that only shines the way it shines here in L.A.
L.A., you can be on stuck-up fickle bitch. But I love you. I love you no matter who comes into our house miming the worst aspects of your persona. I don't like some things about you, L.A. Your Bourgeois tendencies, the disparity between your haves and have-nots, your faux-jaded transplants who don't love you the way I do. The way anyone who's lived long enough with you. You may be home to all of us, transplants and natives alike, but that doesn't mean we're all from here. I love you, L.A.