Right off the bat a controversy. Which song started my yearning for Los Angeles? “Goin’ to California” by Led Zeppelin? Or “Life in the Fast Lane” by the Eagles? Is there a qualitative difference? Quantitative? I guess it doesn’t matter.
The point is, yearning, as is so often the case, turned to reality. In January 1985 I got on “a big ol’ jet airliner” and made my way out west. To make movies not music.
Either way, the level of my ignorance, the depth of my naivete was startling. I knew no one. I didn’t even have a place to stay. But the great thing about being stupid is the stupidity. The bliss of it. It’s like having a bong surgically implanted in your brain. To sit around with your friends and talk about someday. Some way.
The real beauty is Los Angeles welcomes the dumb, the cocky, the dreamers and the I-don’t-know-any-betters. What city on the face of the Earth is more nurturing, more open armed and more willing to look the other way? The Pacific Ocean washes you clean and everyone starts from scratch. Everyone feels the sun. I forget who once called it the Big Nipple, but they were absolutely right. Los Angeles is the mother of all dreams and therefore the mother of all dreamers. What a town. The City of Angels. Guardian angels I would argue.
Has to be. With a straight face, no irony, I said, “I’m going to Hollywood to write movies.” A guardian angel met me at the gate at LAX. There’s no other way to explain the fact that I’m still alive. I saw “Cool Hand Luke” 55 times and decided to roll the dice. In what other city on Earth does that not end you up in a body bag? Or at least working as an actuary? No offense, I’m sure we need them.
I know for damn sure we need movies. And I know where we make them: Los Angeles, Calif. Keep your New York stories to yourself. New York is a location. A location and a hotel room. It’s somewhere the professionals of Los Angeles receive per diem x number of miles outside the city. A telltale sign it’s not Hollywood. All other cities are simply that: locations. “Ventura Boulevard? We love it! Santa Monica Boulevard? We love it!”
I love L.A.! I met all my friends here. I’m living my dreams here! I love it. I love it. Where, in what other county in this country, can you find the talent we have assembled here? It’s staggering to me. A factory town they call it. Well, if an assembly line can build a dream, you’ve come to the right place. So don’t bite the nipple that feeds you.
Los Angeles. Wow! I pledge allegiance to her. I honor her. I would wear a pith helmet and fix bayonets for her. Hell, I even conserve water for her. But mostly I worship the ground I walk on. Because this is where movies are made. And this city, this caveat of a reverie made me a part of all that for the simple, beautiful reason that I was too stupid to know any better. Los Angeles. If you love movies, you don’t leave home without it. It’s the Rome of the 21st century. Ruling not with a sword, but with the beam of a film projector. But if you really want to understand. …
Oh, come to think of it, the song was “Ventura Highway” by America. Damn, the music guys have all the fun.