Tuesday, January 05, 2010

California Dreaming

Let’s see: freezing temperatures, work crews drilling right outside my door, and a general feeling of misery.

All right I get the point; I’m not in Los Angeles anymore. Stop rubbing it in.

I got just back from a 10-day trip to L.A., where my sister and I visited my uncle Joe and his wife during Christmas week. I'm wishing I had stayed there, but that's what I said about 15 years ago after my last visit to Joe's place.

Two days ago I was walking around in a t-shirt in 70-degree weather, admiring the sunshine and the palm trees. Now the holidays are over and I’m freezing my keester off in Brooklyn.

I flew out on Xanax Air on December 26 and arrived in the City of Angeles in a drooling stupor. I’m not particularly proud of that but it certainly beats whimpering and crushing my sister's hand in terror for five hours.

It’s a shame I didn’t pack some Xanax for my trip to Disneyland. This was my first visit to the Land Where Dreams Come True and after enduring the long lines and the Space Mountain ride I’m not in a great hurry to go back.

This ride was so violent, so fast, so downright unpleasant, I felt like a space monkey--some hapless chimp who gets his ass strapped into a rocket and blasted into the sky. Only I didn't get a banana.

Why waterboard people when you can just give them a ride on this train wreck? A few turns on this thing and they’ll confess to everything short of sinking the Lusitania.

Like many other rides, Space Mountain was plastered with signs warning potential customers to keep clear if they suffered from heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, and other such aliments. What they don't tell you is that if you didn't have these problems before you took these rides, you’ll have them once you get off.

My lovely niece informed me that the Tower of Terror ride had an even lengthier
disclaimer, which explains why I didn’t go anywhere near the goddamn thing.

We also visited the Hearst Castle and the Huntington Gardens. As a longtime van of Citizen Kane, I wanted to see the stately home of William Randolph Hearst, the man who inspired one of my favorite films.

The place is phenomenal, with guest houses and a massive indoor swimming pool; visitors included Winston Churchill, David Niven and Charley Chaplin.

One of the people on our tour asked the guide if she thought Hearst was a happy man.

“Yes,” she said to no one’s surprise. “I believe he was.”

The Huntington Library, where the Blue Boy hangs his hat, was a real high point. The weather was so mild and the gardens were so beautiful I hated to leave.

On New Year’s Eve we watched the ball drop in Times Square at 9 pm, wished each other a happy and went to bed a short time later. Now that’s how you ring in the New Year--seriously; who wants to be out on amateur night?

We went to Pasadena after the Rose Bowl Parade and checked out all the floats, which were fantastic.

And I finally saw the Getty Center, 12 years after seeing watching a news report about the opening. The place, which has free admission, is built on top of a 900-foot hill in the Santa Monica Mountains and has spectactular views. It's got some nice art, too...

Now I'm back home and we're starting a new year. I miss the daily walks in Griffith Park we took during our vacation and once again I'm thinking about living in Los Angeles.

It’s an amazing place. You've got all these beautiful homes and quite streets, but then you have those 12-lane freeways, where it feels like you’re in the middle of a Mad Max movie. Maybe the Disney people could make a ride out of that.

Of course, ever since grade school I’ve been threatening to move there and become a big shot in the movie business, but as you might have guessed, that hasn’t happened yet.

I winced when we were driving on the freeway and I saw a billboard for a bank that promised “More ATM’s than Unsold Screenplays.” Sarcasm really isn't a good selling point, but then that ad was probably written by a would-be screenwriter.

I was in my butcher store today and the woman behind the counter raised an eyebrow when I told her I had just got back from L.A.

"The people out there are different," she said.

Yes, well, they're warmer anyway.

My father talked about moving to California for the longest time and he never did it...kind of like me.

I think a lot people use Californina as a kind of pressure valve. Whenever they get fed up with their lives, they swear they'll pack up and go. Then they calm down, come up with excuses about staying put and nothing changes.

Well, it's a new year. I'm no space monkey. I'm going to make changes in my life. I'm going to improve my attitude, get organized and throw out all the garbage in my house and in my head and start with a clean slate. So if people tour my house some day, the guide will be able to truthfully say that I was a happy man.

And if that doesn't work, I'm moving to California.


Lisanne said...

Disney is a nightmare, highly over rated- never the same since they fired Salvatore Dali..but Hearst Castle is fabulous as is the Getty Museum. Didn't you just love the pool and that room with the fireplace and the screening room_)I love L.A. myself. I ran away from NY in the early 90s and lived in San Francisco for 4 years. I would go to LA when I got bored with laid back SF..which is beautiful but coming from NY it lacked energy..and i would go to LA for that although now i find it kind of funny...the weather is beautiful though, you cannot deny that!

Rob K said...

That swimming pool and screen room were fantastic.I like SF a lot myself, but if I ever do head west it will probably be to LA.