If all goes as planned, as you read this the wife and I will be loading a moving van full of everything we own in advance of a cross-country move back to our home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Eight years ago we did the reverse. Left our beloved home for what was supposed to be a three-year adventure in Hollywood. Much happened over those years — most of it wonderful. But we’ve been terribly homesick every minute we’ve been away and simply can’t wait to pick up our small town lives where they left off.
Crying out in anguished pretension
To say we’ve enjoyed our time in Los Angeles would be an understatement. Adventure we sought and adventure we received. Though I eventually failed out, I loved the few years I (barely) scraped out a living in the independent film world and that it led to eventually being a part of Andrew Breitbart’s BIG empire feels something like providence. There is very little, however, my wife and I will miss about the city itself. We learned pretty quickly that all the cliches are true about the crime, traffic, smog, tremors, and artificiality of it all. Simply put, this city is a dump with a 10% sales tax where light bulbs are contraband the seasons change from hot to scalding and throwing your garbage in the wrong bin ranks as something close to a capital crime. No offense, but I see Los Angeles as nothing more than a big, fascist, one-story ghetto and those of you who love it are welcome to it.
One cliche that is a total lie, though, is the unbelievably phony narrative created by the Leftist media and Hollywood about the people who live here. Throughout my misspent life, I’ve lived in Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, and now California — and I have never met nicer people than the people of Los Angeles. That’s not hyperbole or rose-colored glasses or sentiment. It’s a fact. Over the years, I’ve been all over this city and have met and worked with folks from every possible background and income group; from movie stars, producers, journalists and politicians to cops, public school teachers, and factory workers. The people who live and work and make this city run are almost without exception uncommonly decent and kind.
Which brings me to the Paul Haggis film “Crash.”
What city does that man live in? Or does he just look down on the “little people” hustling out a living in the valley and seize every opportunity available to lord his progressive superiority over us? Because the Oscar-winning moral obscenity known as “Crash” would have you believe that the marvelous American melting pot known as Los Angeles is filled with racists and racial strife and racial tension and race, race race, race race. Well, that’s a damned lie. My hand to God, in eight years I have personally never seen, been involved in, or known anyone involved in any kind of racial incident.
Monterey Park, California
Sure, we’ve been through droughts, fires, mud slides, and three murders on our block. Yes, my wife’s been robbed at gunpoint, we’ve been awaken by our house shaking like pre-Army Elvis, and have sweltered with no air conditioning due to hours-long power outages in 105 degree heat. But never once have we felt a moment of stress or tension with anyone over race.
Furthermore, I don’t live in the Hollywood Hills or Santa Monica or Beverly Hills. I live on the border of (the unfairly maligned by Hollywood) East Los Angeles in a city called Monterey Park … where I’m the minority. My neighborhood is 80% Asian and Hispanic, and I have never once been made to feel like any kind of outsider. Not to sound corny, but we’re all Americans here. This is a neighborhood where the excitement and celebration surrounding the Chinese New Year is only topped by the 4th of July.
Boone, North Carolina
“Crash” came out in 2005 and I didn’t much care for it then. It was smug and pretentious and proud of itself. But it took a while for me to realize just what a defamatory attack it was on the people of this city. I remember the moment it struck me. I was sitting in church one Sunday just a year or so ago, when I looked over and saw a white guy sitting in the pew next to me. At first I was surprised and then I was surprised I was surprised and then I figured out why. You simply don’t see many white guys in my church. In fact, sometimes I’m the only one. And that’s when it struck me that I was part of a small racial minority in my community. But because race had never been any kind of an issue with my neighbors, I had never once given the difference in skin color or ethnicity or whatever any kind of thought.
I don’t know what life is like in the upper echelons of the Hollywood Paul Haggis and his ilk reside in, but down here in the San Gabriel Valley we Americans live together just fine.
E pluribus unum.
So goodbye, Los Angeles. And please don’t take those Julie and John-shaped roadrunner clouds you’ll see tonight personally. Hate the city, already miss the people, and Paul Haggis can go to Hell.