Friday, January 15, 2010

LA Diary, Part 3 (Past the Breakers)

Friday, Jan 15, 7:32AM
Usually I wake up to the sound of the University of Memphis State University Fighting Basketball Tigers’ fight song. Today, I’m waking up to waves. In my dream-state of semi-consciousness, I think they’re waves. They’re actually cars passing on Vine, but from my open window they sound like waves breaking on the beach.

It’s a great way to wake up.

There’s something in the air here. I can smell it right now, immediately after waking up, and remember it from my last trip. Los Angelonians might say, “yes, it’s smog.” But compared to other places (e.g., New York), the air feels fresh, clear, heightened somehow. Like the super-oxygen they pump into casinos to keep people awake and energized. If I lived here, I’d never wake up in a bad mood.

I’d also never get any work done.

Friday, Jan 15, 9:22AM:
I’m standing on a street that isn’t a street, in the middle of a neighborhood that isn’t a neighborhood. I’m walking around the Warner Brothers lot with my friend Ben, who works on the ABC sitcom, The Middle. Everything I see is real in the sense that it’s physically there, but unreal in the sense that it’s artificial.

On my left is the fountain from the opening credits of Friends. On my right is a “NYC block” of brownstones. Just ahead is Dennis the Menace’s house. He lives next door to the folks from Little House on the Prairie. Then, the Hechs’ from The Middle. Then, the house from American Beauty, which is also where Clark Griswald lived. It is an idyllic American residential block: the lawns are manicured, the houses freshly painted, the weather pristine. It is a perfect scene. It is a ghost town.

And now I’m on the set, watching everyone prepare for the day’s shooting. I kid you not: I’m standing under a ladder, and a black cat just walked in front of me. Horseshoe, anyone?

I’m briefly reunited with my first true love: driving. I’ve got Ben’s car for the day, and I’m back where I belong: behind the wheel of the great American automobile (if that’s a Saab), windows down, singing with bad FM radio, shamelessly judging the drivers around me. I might take the long way home. I might end up in Vegas. I might move into this car.

And just like that, I understand Jewel.

Friday, Jan 15, 1:13PM:
I need sunglasses.

Out past the breakers,

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