LA musings 4 weeks in . . .
I’ve landed in my new home Los Angeles: just me, twelve boxes and a bicycle. A skinny pregnant sister arrives at the airport in a truck to pick me up. Since then I’ve found a place to live (6th floor, Larchmont Village), bought me a car (a Lexus Hybrid named Bessie) and settled in just a little.
LA is as foreign to me as any country I’ve lived in – some moments so far:
- A fundraiser at the home of an A-list Hollywood director. I almost don’t go because I’ve seen all the photos on the internet of his pool filled with naked barely legal boys, but at the last minute I decide I will go on the advice of my mentor here “never turn down a meeting you haven’t gone to yet.” Tonight the boys are all smiling and dressed in suits – dozens of them, as if they are all in on a secret (that isn’t).The other guests are a Cypriot priest, the eighty year old wife of a politician, some producers and artists, a sprinkling of celebrities. I eat all the hors doevres and chat it up big time, this is not so hard.
- A Christmas and then a New Years party in Baldwin Hills (the black Hollywood) with people I know. Smoking weed on a terrace and looking out over city (this is legal here, right?). Dinner is collards, ham, mac and chesse and black eyed peas – but skipping over fried tofu and vegan collards. The other guests are all black, mostly transplants from the South – a musician here, a set designer there, some kid just who just got fired from his social work job for losing it and beating up a transgender homeless teen. He gives me long warnings about how to deal with people living in “survival mode” and I realize I’m living, way beyond just getting by.
- A networking event in the valley at some chain Irish family restaurant that I end up at because of a brief flurry of saying yes to everything (which has now ended). The host is an aging white homosexual who between sipping on two for one daiquiris with a side of potatoes skins dolls out advice interspersed with a steady stream of celebrity name-dropping. Us attendees all stand up and tell our stories: a 60 year old Asian man with gold teeth and a pony tail who says he can’t find work but one of the other guests recognizes him and can’t contain his excitement. An awkward 20 year old from Omaha who says she is having some trouble out here, can’t really find her any work, “you know how it is, comedy is really hard for women and people of color.” A black guy who pitches his movie (Hollywood Square) which is about a man (him) who arrives in Hollywood (we’re in the valley) and is square (doesn’t drink or party). A bald white man who brags about his film which stars the neighbor on the Brady Bunch, the substitute bus driver from the Partridge family, and host of extras of shows 40 years ago. A transgender woman who fiddles with her pearls and says she won the award for best artist in LA but can’t make a living. Once we get 30 minutes into her speech which at first I am very moved by, but once we are 30 minutes in the aging white homosexual has gone on another side story about talking to Steven Spielberg or some other mentor or some studio that he opened for 700,000 by just picking up the phone, or how we should be friends with the guy in the Xerox room because he will be running the network soon – at this point I just walk out.
- Other than that I’ve had a few work meetings, writing a bunch, made a couple friends, and may have landed my first gig. Mostly I spend days wondering: Who are my people? all the while feeling oddly confident and that things are unfolding as they should.