"Jg., as much as I have loved my time here in Chicago, I think I need to move to California." How many times have we (we few, we 30 million Californians documented and undocumented) heard such lovely sentiments from friends across the country (and south of the border). His words weren't empty wishings after drives and a home along PCH, but were rather an earnest consideration and desire for perhaps a better lifestyle in warmer climes.
So, for Andy, I thought I'd jot down my most recent Friday afternoon. It went something like this:
- Morning swim at the 'Y' (the same YMCA where I played hoops with Michael Clark Duncan the night he broke his leg) and then off to chapel at my youngest son's school. The drive to chapel and back to home-office took over an hour to travel 11 miles there and back. Before heading out for my first appointment a quick check of the post for an unemployment check (Shoot! Hopefully Saturday mail, then). You see, Dear Reader, even though we're hoping (and wishing and praying) for a successful investment/beginning of this venture that I've mentioned in a previous post, no money literally means NO MONEY. The frustration of my drive, however, was lessened by the gorgeous backdrop before me of snowcapped mountains from recent storms.
- Lunch meeting with a new client in Beverly Hills. I was rocking my Michael Kors plaid wool suit, old English cap, and favorite scarf (a blue cashmere number I purchased for $9 [$90 discount] from a Banana Republic bin in New Orleans -- I regret not buying five more to this day). The day was a bit cold with clouds and some rain, so we dodged the raindrops and went across the street for some excellent Thai food at Telesai. My partner picked up the tab on this one; thank God for partners.
- After-lunch discussion back at client's office, with 270 degree view of L.A. (yes, to the beach also) that included cigars and sitting on the veranda watching the storm break up before our eyes, thinking about what could be (if things go right, dear Lord!). Our client is quite a famous singer/actor who is just the nicest person in the world. The rainbow stretching from Sunset Blvd. to Long Beach 30 miles south, btw, was gorgeous and humongous (gormongous?), and I kept looking at either end for that pot o' gold.
- Afternoon run to The Coffee Bean for a quick fix of a vanilla latte. I check some email via their free WiFi and notice Tom Begeron (Dancing with the (former) Stars and America's Funniest Videos). I was glad to see no one bothering him -- he seems a decent fellow -- and the twenty-something attractive PA or DGA trainee to whom he was imparting his vast show-host advice. Not that anyone would bother him, he's just Tom. Now, Angelina Jolie, yes, when she was here with one of her little babies, paparazzi were all over her/them like stink on the script for Bruce Willis's latest Cop Out. Total crap effort and film. Gawd was that a nasty stinky pile that Kevin Smith grunted out. What were he and Bruce thinking?!
- Grabbed a few magazines and the latest Stephen King book (Under the Dome) at Barnes and Nobel. I was standing quick-reading Script when I noticed out of the corner of my eye a rather handsome guy looking my direction. You know how you can sense someone looking at you? Anyway, I ignored this unsettling feeling and went back to reading when a typical SoCal middle-aged (very attractive but in a plain running errands sort of way) woman stood next to me and grabbed a magazine as well. She had one of those ubiquitous tats around the ankle that woman of a certain age seem to prefer. The guy was still looking our general direction, so I looked over the woman's shoulder back to him as nonchalantly as I could muster. It was the actor Jack Wagner. He looked great, but like he'd had some work done you know? That's when I noticed what he was actually looking at: his girl Heather. Heather Locklear was the woman with inked ankle standing next to me. She was trying to hurry for him, but she wanted to grab a magazine or two like the rest of us trying to get on the road to beat the afternoon traffic.
- Back to Beverly Hills to the client's office for a recap "happy hour" meeting at Boa, the restaurant that anchors the bottom floor of client's building. I'm getting tired now from all of the driving and hours in SoCal traffic, but excited nonetheless about the potential of this new business and the contract we just signed. Three of us have a celebratory libation or two (or three) and I notice a scrum of middle-aged hipsters sitting on the couch, one of whom is rocking a way cool chapeau along with a sophisticated affectation thrown in to boot: Don Johnson is sporting a full beard (and socks). He wears it well.
So, dear Andy, if you want to come to L.A., you'll battle an occasional winter storm, hours and hours (and hours) of traffic with your fellow Californians looking cool in their new nifty cars, observe enough "star" sightings to fill a TMZ photog's quota, and hopefully, mirabile visu, discover one of the nicest places to live on the planet. However, SoCal's wonderfulness has nothing to do with celebs and their sycophants, or cool cars and their price tags, or great restaurants sparkling with smoking-hot models who smoke (though, let's not change too much too quickly). It's the people (the ones I've known for the last three decades): they're a laid back, genuine, and caring lot. It's the activities: the skiing, the museums, the surfing, the beach, the mountains, the hiking, the sports teams for your kids. It's the weather: perfect -- especially in San Diego.
But, all of "this" costs a lot. It's an expensive place, this Southern California splendor. So, there you have it, Dear Reader, my humble perspective for those like Andy considering a life resplendent in LA luxe.
Note: Dear Reader, this typical Friday afternoon actually occurred over two days, but I think artistic license allows me to conflate these two rather fungible SoCal Fridays.