Thank you LA for 30 wonderful years
How did that happen?
Last Monday marked the 30th anniversary of my California adventure. On the morning of Dec. 14, 1985, I drove the last stretch of I-10 in my 1966 Ford Galaxy having left my mother’s house on Long Island five days earlier. For the first few weeks I camped in Pasadena with Henry Stimson, a good friend of my brother’s, and the only person I knew in the Golden State. Eventually I settled into my own tiny place at the Oakwood Apartments on Barham Blvd., the Ellis Island of Hollywood.
I came West thanks to the wonderful Jack Klugman of “Odd Couple” and “Quincy” fame. Jack had offered me a job as a baby writer on a new series he was doing at NBC called “You Again?” co-staring a very young John Stamos. The show wasn’t very good — and neither was I — but it lasted just long enough for me to figure out how to get a second job writing in Hollywood.
Driving onto the NBC lot that first day was a dream come true and frankly so has every one of the 10,950 days that have followed.
Not that there haven’t been bad times in California. I’ve had my share of ugliness. Life is hard. Still, on balance, it’s been an amazing ride.
Like all New Yorkers I grew up telling smug California jokes; “When it’s 2:30 in Manhattan it’s 1953 in Los Angeles.” Or “L.A. is the only city with vegan homeless.” Then there are the jokes we’ve elected Mayor. But Los Angeles remains a magical place for millions around the world and not just because the weather is nice.
In the pages of this newspaper I’ve been known to hammer L.A. for its various faults and flaws. On this special occasion I’d like to balance the equation by celebrating my city’s virtues while expressing my heartfelt gratitude for the blessed life it’s afforded.
For a century the thin and beautiful have come here ready for their close-ups while the flabby and pimply have tried to sell their scripts. But Los Angeles is so much more than showbiz. It’s a community as rich and diverse as any you’ll find anywhere on Earth, sometimes chaotically so, but never dull, never ordinary. L.A. is a place for dreamers and doers.
For 30-years I’ve earned my living as a writer in this town, exactly what I’d dreamed of doing as a child. Some years were lean, others flush, but I’ve never bussed a table or had to go in the back to see if we had the brown loafers a half-size smaller.
Not that I wouldn’t have done those jobs if I had to. All honest labor has dignity.
This city is where I made friends for life. This city is where I met my wife. This city is where my stepsons were born and raised and still live. This is the city where folks have been kind enough to read this column and listen to my radio broadcasts and watch the television shows and movies I’ve written and produced. I never taken that for granted.
Having spent more years here than I spent back there, Los Angeles is in every way my home. I might poke L.A. in these pages or on the radio but when on the road I find myself coming to L.A.’s defense; and yes, New Yorkers are always the worst offenders.
Let’s settle this once and for all; if the pizza is so good in New York, go home!
Undoubtedly someone at City Hall or Sacramento will do something that makes my head throb. When that happens, you’ll read about it here. Today, however, is not the day. Today is the day I say, gracias! merci! danke! tusind tak! shnorhakalutyun! spasibo! xiexie!
In any language the message is the same: Thank you Los Angeles for 30 wonderful years. Here’s hoping for 30 more.
Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays. Hear him weekdays 5-10. He can be reached at: Doug@KABC.com.