Here, the first of my archive-dives:

While I’m flattered that many friends are eager to participate in my monthly Salon, I remain curious as to why an almost equal number seem unable to RSVP. This seems to be a uniquely West Coast phenom, and I previously assumed it was one of those “LA flaky” things, that served as just another reflection for the superficial self-absorbed nature of the “typical” Angelino…but that explanation doesn’t sit well with me, in light of the fact that most of my friends are simply nothing like this typical slouch. I’ve been blessed with a small circle of friends whose reliability has rarely been questionable, and whose interest in creativity and intellect is certainly beyond any doubt active.

So what holds people at arm’s length?……”THE DRIVE”.

There is a strange haze that hangs over Los Angeles County. Not the usual haze of smog and deals in the making, but a depressing vapor that has for decades kept residents of our area from tapping into the diversified offerings of Los Angeles, in the way that citizens of New York, Chicago or London seem to do all the time. Despite the weather, residents of these cities are always going out, be it to a gallery exhibit, a play, a restaurant, or a friend’s apartment. New Yorkers think nothing of catching a cab or bus downtown, spending an hour in travel each way. Londoners use their famously ancient public transportation system (The double-decker buses and underground “tube”) to access every nook and cranny of their fascinating metropolis. Chicagoans brave snowdrifts and gale force winds to drive or bus or “El” to a friend’s home for dinner and a playreading…

Yet we, the sun-drenched residents of LAlaland, find it soooo difficult to drive to one of the hundreds of theatres dotted about town. We regularly turn down invitations to art shows and live events. We prefer to stay home and order Chinese, than to get into the car, and drive a short way for home cooking. Why?

It’s impossible to grasp, until one has lived, and tried to function, in this unique land. Even then, it is impossible to fully explain. What keeps us from attending “Babe’s and Ricky’s“, the best and oldest Blues bar in Los Angeles? When was the last time you went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art? What about MOCA?The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena has a wonderful sculpture garden, not to speak of the artwork in its galleries. While you’re in Pasadena, go early and spend the morning at the Huntington Gardens (tea in the Rose gardens is quite delightful, dontchooknow!)…

There is so much to do here in LA, and yet we so rarely do it…

Those of us who have lived in New York, Chicago, London, or nearly ANY other major city for that matter, will acknowledge that we once used to go out almost every night and “do stuff”…”see things”….”expand our horizons”…

Nowadays, we all too often drive home after work, and watch the lovely LA evening horizon burn its warm goodnight across the sky, as we numbly shovel Spicy Orange Chicken and rice into our mouths.

I’m just as guilty as the next guy/chap/bloke…Whenever I get an invitation, I vacillate between the pleasure of being thought of, and the dread of the road ahead. Literally. I dread having to turn around after a hard day’s work, and battle the bad drivers, torturous on and off ramps, etc…, etc…, ad nauseam.

But I now recite a little mantra: “In life, it’s all about the journey. In L.A., it’s all about the destination”. I remind myself of the fun I had at that art reception, or how much I learned at that industry seminar, or the joy of watching that great little play, in the company of 98 other individuals “in-the-know”. I buffer myself against the ignominy of “THE DRIVE”, with recollections of the pleasures to be found at the end of the line.

I don’t know whether this works for everyone, but if you haven’t tried it yet, please do. Look at all your evenings spent watching Judge Judy, Friends, American Idol, or CSI…use your VCR/Tivo/DVD Recorder!!

LA is a counter cultural megalopolis. There is so much going on, some great stuff, some lousy, but this community’s pulse is driven by the it’s inhabitants. If we all continue to stay home in our own little sanctuaries, the pulse slows.

So let’s drive….

Over Six and a half years later, has anything changed?..