23
Jan
08

Driving from the Back Seat

The air at home has been thick with philosophical discussions of late, mainly about where we are and why we are here. A decade in Los Angeles can have that effect.

I learned at a very early age that L.A. is the center of the entertainment universe, and longed for it ever since. When I moved here, at 29, I thought it was the be-all and end-all, and it is. There’s almost nothing that you can’t be here in L.A., given the drive, luck, youth, beauty, opportunity, and talent – usually in that order. Take your pick of any activity in snow, forest, mountains, beach, vineyard, or city, and it’s within a couple hours drive or a couple of phone calls to make it happen. It’s a place where you really can have and do it all, and as my Mom always said, “People who can have it all, usually do,” which can make for a formidably interesting, but exhausting schedule, and for the less than careful, it can be their undoing.

86mazda626a.jpgIt’s that kind of excitement that brought me to Los Angeles: the same excitement I once got from my first drinks, my first drugs, my first screws, and that time on I-75 when I set the cruise control in my 1987 Mazda 626 Turbo and slid over and drove from the passenger side… and then from the back seat. You get a big rush from possibility, power, and invincibility, even when it’s imaginary, and that rush is part of what makes this town tick.

Like any industry city, we’re immersed in the industry utterly, and if effects everything. The Writer’s Strike is real, and a whole lot uglier than just having to watch re-runs. People are losing their homes, dyin’ on the vine, broke and miserable, and for what? Because they’d like to be paid fairly to entertain the world. Yes, the world. When your city’s industry is generating the gods, goddesses, legends, and dreams for the world, everything is magnified. The highs are higher, the lows are lower, and the space between as short as an instant. The homeless guy at the end of the offramp who looks like a Ford model probably was, a few lost jobs and eightballs of speed ago.

This place is rocked by the loss of Heath Ledger. It’s all anyone’s talking about. People are crying behind their office doors, and I’m one of them. I’m so tired of seeing my angels falling from grace and my heroes brought out in body bags. Sure, it makes me grateful as hell, and renews my commitment to making each day count. There but for the grace of God (whatever God is, or if God even micromanages us on such a level), go we all. How do I want to spend those days?

Now, at 39, driving from the back seat seems a little unnecessarily crazy; maybe because I’ve done it, and maybe because I’m 10 years closer to the end of my run. Whatever the reason, ranching Alpacas with Sam somewhere in the west, with Mom a stone’s throw away, is starting to look pretty damn good. Owning a little bar in Ibiza wouldn’t be bad either. Making a life in San Diego, or Austin, Texas sounds like a lot of fun, too. We wouldn’t be in a car for two hours every day. We would have more than two hours together, between dinner and bedtime, on weekdays. We’d see Mom more frequently than every two weeks, and I wouldn’t ever say things like, “Well, at least it’s Wednesday… only two more days until the weekend.” I don’t want to wish my life away like that.

We have unfinished business in Lost Angeles, which we’re going to follow through on. The bounty is coming, but so is the departure. My friend Lisa says that we shouldn’t complain, that we’re living, and the jobs we do allow us to Chute Dog on long weekends. Maybe that’s it. Maybe we’re built to have a foot in two worlds, switching between whenever we need to. Whatever it is, I’d like to make peace with it, create it around us, and stop guessing.

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1 Response to “Driving from the Back Seat”


  1. 1 Jonathan
    Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 8:48 am

    It’s a rough week, Tex. Take a few breaths before you give up on this city of fallen angels. For purely selfish reasons (I’d miss you guys), I hope you find a way to rekindle that sense of wonder that you once felt for Los Angeles. To use your own words—“there’s almost nothing you can’t be here”. So, outside of the crappy traffic (I’ll give you that), why leave? Go visit those Alpacas all you want, but I would be willing to bet they wouldn’t look nearly as appealing if you were in the middle of nowhere, staring at them 24/7. Or, more frightening, they might look very appealing.


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