I wrote this a while back and periodically have to post it because apparently it still needs saying…
WARNING: If this post resembles you keep in mind that I love and adore you and I don’t mean to offend you but I do get a bit resentful about this shit.
We need to talk!
I’ve just about had it with the L.A. bashing.
Now honestly I understand this is NOT some perfect place. I understand that it has a whole host of problems. I’m pretty damn sure I know them even better than you folks do because I’ve lived here my entire damn life.
Yeah, yeah the driving can be a drag. The traffic can be unbearable. The lack of decent public transportation can drive you insane. The endless sprawl of suburban drabness can start to melt your brain. The lousy air quality can actually make you ill.
Then there’s the reason so many of you folks come here in the first place. The entertainment business. Yes it’s horrifying how shallow the entertainment business is isn’t it? Which spawns some pretty shallow and decidedly mean people. But hey lets call a spade a fucking shovel here OK? None of you came here for the fine art community, the theatre community or the jazz scene did ya? Nope. You all came here with an eye on becoming a movie star or a rock star.
Then y’all get bitter and pissy when what you find is a business filled with self-involved, self-motivated business people who want to make money….not art. Then as you struggle to be an artist in the midst of a business industry you start to lose sight of what it is you want, what it is that is important to you. You find yourself trying to write a KROQ ready single or dreaming of getting a national commercial selling dish soap. You start to feel bad, you start to miss the way you felt when you were in college or even high school back in Ohio or D.C. or Racine. You remember that at one time you just wrote the music you loved for no reason at all or you were a member of a small theatre group that did wonderful productions of American plays in the park. You decide that the real problem is that this town is destroying your artistic soul, that Los Angeles is somehow responsible for you losing sight of what was important to you. Well I take decided EXCEPTION to that idea.
I will agree that the entertainment business is not the best place for an artist, I also acknowledge how problematic that is, but don’t blame my home town for the effects of your own desires for success and one industry’s lousy ethics and lack of soul. Not everyone who lives in L.A. is in the entertainment industry. Not everything in L.A. has to do with the entertainment industry.
This is a city full of contradictions and a wealth of different cultures that mix and separate and mix again. This is a city where you will see a wild coyote running down Hollywood Blvd. at midnight when the Santa Ana winds are blowing like crazy. This is city where you will see a car driving down the 210 freeway in 78 degree weather with skis and snow on its roof. This is a city where on January 1st you will find a large number of people surfing to ring in the New Year. This is a city of teachers and garbage collectors and shop keepers and lawyers and doctors and factory workers and gardeners and maids and rich people and poor people and everything in between. This is a city like no other city, with a subtly of seasons that it takes a lifetime to detect and a soul that can feed your art if you can figure out how to find it.
I’m not saying you have to like my town. I understand how it might not work for everyone. But that’s true of anywhere. What bothers me is that I don’t hear anyone saying, “Seattle sucked the soul out of all my artistic friends” or “Racine killed her desire to be an actor” or “Chicago made it impossible for me to write any decent music”. I’ve heard people say that the insider nature of the theatre community in Chicago made it hard to get started there. I’ve heard people say that the snootiness of the indie rock scene in the Pacific Northwest made it impossible to get booked into a decent club. But no one blames the city for those things.
All I’m asking is that you place your blame in the right location. Tons of people don’t like New York because it’s a big dirty city or Minneapolis because it’s too cold or New Orleans because it’s too hot and there’s no clean drinking water or Los Angeles because it’s too spread out and you do have to have a car to get around. But if you or your friends lose sight of their artistic soul then I suggest taking some responsibility for the maintenance on that soul because if you don’t nurture it yourself the geography won’t make a damn bit of difference