Monday, March 15, 2010

Los Angeles and Southern California

This is kind of a bullshit entry. I'm in New York City right now, but I thought I'd give some parting thoughts and photos from my last few months in Los Angeles. Seems a fitting way to start this thing.

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I moved to LA six years ago from Boston - though strictly speaking, I had been living basically full time in Amherst, western massachuetts, for a few years. I left for california probably hours after the ink was dry on the paperwork certifying my college experience as over. The weather was so poor the day I started the cross-country drive that we had to swap a van for an SUV and I had to leave half of my crap behind. I had no particular problem with that.

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The drive itself was easy. My brother drove most of the way and we listened to so many episodes of This American Life that I began to have dreams narrated drolly by Ira Glass. I'll also never forget the transformative moment somewhere below the mason-dixon line when we pulled off the road and hosed off all the salt that had accumulated on the car as we exited the region of the country still covered by snow and began the long trek across the south-west.

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My first few months in california were dominated by the job search. I spent a few weeks up in Davis visiting my girlfriend at the time, an area so boring you'll want to beat your forehead against some drywall just to make noise. Fortunately, before long I found a laughably low-paying job in Venice at a place called Digital Domain and found a genuinely shit-hole apartment in mar vista to live in. The job, the apartment and the relationship moved on pretty quickly from there.

I only tell this boring story to illustrate the fact that I came to Los Angeles quite empty handed.

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The years since then have been some of the best and worst I've had. I've called this place home during a time in my life when I've grown into a artist and, in so many ways, a man. That's platitudinous to say, and a little embarrassing, but true.

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What is also embarrassing and true and something I am seldom honest about is that I failed so spectacularly to carve out a place here to truly call home. Not for lack of trying. I'm speaking, of course, about heartbreak. Serial and ridiculous, it's been both my own fault and others', but there's no getting around how prominently this thread figures into the story of my time in Los Angeles. I have fallen down, gotten back up and fallen down again, in this regard.

To say I'm not angry would be a lie. To say it hasn't, in large part, driven me away would also be lie. I am angry and sad - but I have promised myself to let it motivate me forward rather than weighing me down. Good things must come from bad, eventually.

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Having said that, the vastly vastly dominant force in this period of my life has been developing a career in visual effects, starting with that shit job at DD and eventually moving to Sony Imageworks where I painstakingly worked my way into a position where I was actually carrying out effects work on feature-films. I couldn't be more proud of what I accomplished over these few years and have had so much support from friends and family. To those I've shared blood and tears with, and those with whom I raised more than a few glasses, you know how much I appreciate it.

In the course of all this, I discovered something important. Work should allow one the freedom to live as one chooses and not dictate how one's life is lived. We should all be allowed to buy our freedom. If a house in orange county and a porsche and a housewife with eight kids is your poison, then so be it. Myself, I don't know yet what I want from life, what would give some meaning, so I'll keep searching and working when I need to, and only when I need to. Working for the sake of working is foolish.

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That's all I'm gonna say about the last 6 crazy years. Enough about me.

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Los Angeles is a beautiful city with so many pockets of greatness. Don't let the vapidity of its residents fool you, there is substance if you look. You only need drive - 1 mile or 100, to find what you're looking for. Then sober your ass up and drive home.

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One thing I will never forget about Los Angeles is the disrespect of the working class and the poor. Another thing I'll never forget is the widespread apathy about the right of gays to marry.

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In spite of everything, you were home. Thanks for all the great sunsets. See you when I come back around.

3 comments:

  1. You forgot to mention the earthquakes about LA, just woke up because of one, startled, and saw the post on fb.

    Calming and beautiful photos and very familiar story, told well...

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  2. Have to add: This blog very much reminded me of this poem I love by Konstantinos (Costantinos) Kavafis, little bit sad but I think appropriately goes with the theme, and how I feel about leaving a city -which I did couple times in last five years- in which I experienced joy and loss .

    "...
    You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
    This city will always pursue you. You will walk
    the same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods,
    will turn gray in these same houses.
    You will always end up in this city.
    ..."

    http://www.cavafy.com/poems/content.asp?id=58&cat=1

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  3. ha - you say it like you're gonna go back to this "home", but truth is, that won't be the case, because

    a) you won't actually ever go back
    b) if you do, you'll have changed so much that the city will be so different so it won't be anything familiar about it and hence, it won't be home.

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