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To The West!

A little worm asks his father:
-Daddy, why do some worms get to live in apples and oranges and we live in a pile of shit?
-Because it’s our Motherland, son…
Old Soviet Joke

When I was boarding a plane to Los Angeles last Wednesday I knew all about my destination.
It was full of aging hippies…

…who wear Birkenstocks year round…

…overrun with crime (I am pretty proud of this shot right in front of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre)…

…chronic diseases…

…about to be washed out by a tsunami…

…infested with illegal tax preparers…

…where fat people are discriminated against while being taunted with snacks…

…and skinny people are being put on a pedestal.

But somewhere during my five days in LA, my American dream got kicked in the groin. For years I was arguing with my friends on both coasts that I live in a better place, full of parking and almost devoid of traffic, safe and with good schools, reasonable and affordable, while still having a chance to see recent Broadway shows and dine at ethnic restaurants. After every trip I returned home complaining about the crowding, overpriced real estate and horrible traffic everywhere I went, feeling good about the rush hour slowdown on the highway we refer to as “traffic” and my relatively minuscule mortgage payment.

LA made me realize how badly I was mistaken. My friends were right, I live in a Podunk town, in a boring provincial backwater where the foodies are taking turns revisiting the same 10 restaurants and 3 markets; where the same 6 women (and probably men) are at the top of all dating sites (albeit under different handles); where finding a date with at least two degrees of separation from your previous one is almost impossible; where any chain restaurant opening is an event worthy of TV news coverage and traffic congestion; where the only bragging rights are “at least we are not Tulsa or Omaha”. Indeed we are not.

At the same time there are wonderful magical places where it’s almost always warm and sunny but you can look up in the mountains and see the snow; where at any given time more women are dressed in heels and bikinis than the whole statistical female population of the KC Metro Area; where the people are always in a sunny mood and free of depression or PMS and are happily smiling even while being arrested; where the 52-week donut project would take 52 years and still will not be able to eat a donut at every one of them; where the restaurants from all over the world are open even in the areas that are not scary without bars on the windows; where the oranges and lemons grow in people’s backyards instead of the allergy-inducing trees that are planted here for some mystical reasons; where the produce is not an imitation food sold here; where fat people are magically drawn outside to ride bikes or walk or run so even their over-consumption of donuts or cakes from a Cuban bakery around the corner is not detrimental to their health; where driving up and down the mountain roads makes one feel like James Bond; where you “can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile”.

So I told my daughter to pick a college in California, the only place where my American dream can make another run for it.

Maybe I can take a ride on the “Possibility bus”…

…or just mount my Focus on top of a school bus…

…I can trow down my magical money blanket on the sand…

…or pour my lifetime savings into a yacht…

…just so I can see this…

…or this…

…and this…

…and I will wait as long as I have to.

P.S. I don’t need to know why it’s so great to live here and why it sucks in California. Trust me – I know. And learn about hyperbole.