Some of us (Craig, Graeme, Charlotte and Robin) have just returned from L.A. I thought we had got back jet lag free until I lay awake in bed at 2am this morning before finally getting to sleep and not waking up until 1 pm this lunchtime. So
this entry comes with a WARNING – it may contain some middle of the night, overtired, sentimental content.
We are standing on the lookout ledge at the Getty Center. The sun has gone down. There is almost a tear in my eye, my stomach skips a beat – the whole of Los Angeles is below us, and ahead of us and to the left of us and to the right of us. It’s the biggest view I have ever seen. I saw it last year but this year it somehow seems bigger – maybe it’s because it’s night time or maybe it just is bigger. It is as they say inn the USA – “awesome”. There are two rolling, meandering rivers of cars below – one white, one red; one heading north, one heading south. In LA it is possibly true that 1 car = 1 person, like 1 grain of rice = 1 person in Of All The People. Millions of headlights, millions of tail lights. I can practically hear strings swelling in my ears to accompany the grandeur of it all and a drummer gentling marking the tick tick tickety tick of tyres on the concrete joins in the freeway with a cymbal. Who are all those people below, in this city where you expect to bump into a face you recognise every five minutes? Are they going to work on a night shift or are they going home? Who are they returning home to? Are they lonely? What radio station are they listening to? Where were they born? Are they famous? How many languages do they speak? Whose photographs do they have on their wall at home? What is their religion? What is their favourite food? Who are they missing? Do they keep a picture of their children in their wallet to show a new found friend? Are they driving to catch a plane? Are they returning from the beach? Where did they live before they ended up here? How long are they staying? What’s their secret?
This is the city where some dreams are made and others don’t come true, where some their faces on billboards so big that they can probably be seen from space but where others sleep on the beach or work 14 hours a day as a security guard to pay the rent or fund their education or bankroll their dream.
This visit LA felt both huge but also smaller than when we came last year. We had cars – so new places came within our reach and we could get to them more easily. We lived on a street where we could actually walk to the shops, we drove to work along a palm tree lined boulevard with our elbows out of the window and up a winding hill. This time we noticed the mountains more and the houses built out on stilts some which seemed more out of hope than structural integrity. We saw fire scarred hillsides, looked at stars (universe ones) through the Griffith Park telescope, watched the fiery sun sink into the sea and night come as quickly as if someone had flicked a switch and turned studio lights off. We went to gigs onn Sunset Boulevard, saw magic in a castle and thought we saw people we recognised. This time we noticed the mountains more and the houses built out on stilts some which seemed built more out of hope than structural integrity. We saw fire scarred hillsides, looked at stars (universe ones) through the Griffith Park telescope, and put our bins out every Tuesday night.
At the Skirball we were returning to a venue we knew and were greeted by all as returning friends. They met us every morning, with warm smiles and a joke. Audiences were friendly, inquisitive and switched on again. We felt at home in the Skirball and the City of Angels.
I am glad to be home for an English Christmas. But it the sky seems very grey and cold and the trees and plants seem very dead. Everyone has their head down on the way to work or looking for Christmas presents and the windows on the bus are steamed up and some idiot has the volume turned up on his phone so that we can all listen to his bloody awful taste in music. I am glad to be home for an English Christmas but I miss the people we have left behind in L.A., our friends old and new and I miss the city and the times that we all had together there.
There. I told you it would be sentimental