Monday, February 16, 2015

This is where you can reach me now

Nothing is worse than an itch you can never scratch.

— Leon in ”Blade Runner”

A LOT CAN happen in nine weeks, believe me. Since your not-quite-humble narrator last checked in:

ISIS’ pointlessly ruthless atrocities have continued unabated, killing more innocent people in secret undisclosed locations. In the days before Christmas, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a gunman with Ferguson and retribution on his mind, killed two New York City police officers in Brooklyn, before committing suicide.

Last month President Obama delivered the 2015 State of the Union, by most estimations an address that gave us a good long glimpse of the Barack Obama we fell in love with: bold, cocky, aspirational, just this side of smashmouth.

A few weeks back, the Seattle Seahawks — my team! — handed the New England Patriots their fourth Super Bowl victory in a deservedly improbable, utterly unnecessary pass on the 3-yard line — or was it the 2? — that was intercepted with seconds left on the clock.

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Brian Williams, the anchor of the NBC Nightly News, paid the price for misremembering personal events. Williams, who apparently recalled a successful 2003 RPG attack on his helicopter over Iraq when there never was one, was furloughed for six months from arguably the best gig in broadcasting. Lester Holt is filling in.

In the last few months, Cuba released an American prisoner, an overture meant to support the White House inclination to explore normalizing relations with the island nation. Ohio State upset Oregon to win the first undisputed, undilutable college football championship. David Carr, a beloved columnist with The New York Times, died, as did Edward Brooke, former Massachusetts senator, veteran “60 Minutes” correspondent Bob Simon, legendary football coach Jerry Tarkanian, actress Donna Douglas (Elly May on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” if ya don’t know) and Gary Owens, the celebrated voice of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” died at the age of 80.

In that same time, yours truly made the move almost 1,100 miles south, vacating the lush rainforest of Seattle and moving to Los Angeles, where media opportunities are more plentiful and the sun is a more reliable everyday companion article.

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WE HIT the wall in life in various ways. Sometimes it’s a gradual thing that drags itself out for what seems like forever; at other times it’s as sudden as waking up one morning, packing and exiting Dodge before the sun goes down. Room’s gotta be made, though, for the possibility of both happening, more or less sequentially.

The year 2014 was one of the worst on record, mine anyway. Professional options seemed to dwindle for me in the Emerald City; month after month got more and more dispiriting. I made up my mind in September that, one way or another, 2015 wouldn’t end in the same place and the same way that 2014 was already destined to play itself out.

I sold my home on Edmunds Street, in Columbia City, the south Seattle neighborhood I came to know and love for the 12 years and nine months I lived there. I placed much of my stuff, the property I intended to keep, in a self-storage facility, with plans to pick it up later. The rest I packed into Black Ops, my trusty 2000 Mercedes Benz Kompressor. Early on the afternoon on Jan. 10, I hit southbound Interstate 5, bound for where I am right now. I’ll spare you the details of the travelogue; if you’re a Facebook friend, you already know the details.

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Black Ops is ready for Los Angeles. My vehicle, at least, has adopted the protective coloration of the immediate environment. This is obvious everywhere, at any given time: black Lexus, black BMW, black Civic, black Range Rover ... and every now and then, just often enough to be a defining statement, a Hummer stretch limousine, big as a one-bedroom apartment.

And I’m ready for life in Los Angeles. The city and its quirky, relentless rhythms are something I’ve been getting accustomed to as a visitor since 1993.

But nothing prepares you for wrestling with the idea of Los Angeles like living in the city. More than any of the several American cities I’ve lived in over 35 years, more even than New York, Los Angeles is the embodiment of the improvisational spirit. The laissez-faire ethos on steroids.

The weather, of course, makes it easy to indulge regional wanderlust. In recent days, the city of Boston has been buried in snow, and much of the Eastern seaboard has been under the weather you expect in the month of February. Not so here. With highs in the mid 80's for most of the previous week, and forecasts of similar temperatures to come, Los Angeles is especially charitable, meteorologically speaking, like few other cities in America at this time of year.

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BUT I came to pursue professional opportunities, and there are plenty. Self-invention is in the air here. People are busy building patchwork careers, supplementing regular 9-to-5 work with stints working as extras. Doing a day job at the Rite Aid down the street, padding that income with cash from working as a bartender at night.

We’re all subject to that kind of impromptu income generation in the current economy. But Los Angeles has this in its DNA and has had for generations. It’s foundational to something that’s as much an existential fact as a business model: When you’re here, you can build the you that you always wanted to be.

And that’s why I’m here. And this is where you can reach me now.

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