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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In The First Person

La La Land
by Julie McDowell

What is it about LA that makes it so alluring? The glam? The glitz? What is it that draws people back time and time again? After all, LA is the home where the Barbie Dolls roam, with rich men who play with money all day. I moved to LA on a simple premise which our dear friend Jiminy Cricket sings so nicely:

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

Los Angeles. The City of Angels. The city of dreamers. Where little wooden dolls become real boys, where the stars you wish upon become the stars you walk upon, where a nobody becomes a somebody, where dreams really do come true. Like every young girl, I dreamt big. Oh, to become a princess, to bite into a poisonous apple only to have my prince come rescue me. I wanted to become part of the magic, the fantasy. To live amongst those who created anything and everything, bound not by time but only by their desire to dream.

I’ve lived in LA for several years now and I’ve bit the poisonous apple, met Prince Charming, as well as the Wicked Witch of the West, and I’ve loved every minute of it. LA is like an adult Disneyworld. Within this great amusement park lay many diverse lands full of wild rides. From the hippies in Topanga Canyon to the hipsters in Silver Lake, from the groove in Venice to the beat in Hollywood, from the Bentley driving gents in Beverly Hills to the bling in the hood, one can delve in to any fantasy they like. It’s where the black sheep come to graze patiently waiting for their moment of inspiration, the moment where they realize that not only can they become white but that they can fly.

All over the world people are accustomed to tradition, to falling in line and adapting to their environment, to settling, to giving in, to living in reality. “Come down to earth,” “Get your head out of the clouds,” people say. What does that even mean, “living in reality?” Is not my reality that which I choose to make it? Of course, there’s The Golden Rule to live by. But what about the silver one sprinkled in fairy dust that allows you to dream big and live happily ever after? True, there are those who cut off their toes in order to find the right fit to a glass slipper. But they only end up on the arm of a millionaire older then their grandfather, having dinner at Maestro’s Steakhouse, waking up to a great big rotten pumpkin with seeds of self-hatred. Then, there are those who live honorably and courageously, who get their hands dirty and clean the cinders from the fireplace. Those who work hard, never losing sight of their dream, until one day the glass slipper comes knocking on their door.

From San Diego to northern California, from Italy to New York, I’ve been fortunate to live in some beautiful places. Each area has its own unique gifts to offer. However, every time I run off to explore some place new, there’s a force that brings me back. LA is the city of dreams. Sure, one can dream in any town, Philadelphia, Boston, Paris, or Wasilla, but LA is the city where one’s dreams come alive. It’s the cherry on top of the American Dream. The Promised Land. It’s saddling up one’s horse and riding out west to stake one’s claim and search of the Holy Grail. Only in this town the grail isn’t found in the hands of Harrison Ford. It’s found in the eye of the dreamer.

Everyday I wake up leaving one dream and stepping into another, inspired by the notion that anything is possible in LA. I know that at one moment an idea is formed, and the next it can be seen dancing on screen. True, I have grown from that young girl understanding now that in fantasy exists both the dream and the nightmare. For an artist cannot paint in merely black and white. It is in this mystical city that all shades are exposed. I find that only here can I dLinkelve into such a range of life. The yin and yang, the light and dark, the comedy and tragedy. It’s the duality of this town that entices me. Like Dante’s Divine Comedy, I can travel through both the depths of hell and the peaks of heaven to find my prince and live happily ever after.

Maybe it’s the mystical Santa Ana winds that blow in every fall from the desert, maybe it’s the way the mountains meet the ocean on that crystal clear day, or maybe it’s that last martini I had up on Sunset Plaza. There’s something in this town that stirs my soul. I hate to love it, but I do.

If you would like to submit a first person essay to the Rouge Wave, write something terrific, keep it between 500 and 750 words and send it in for consideration.

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Steve Axelrod said...

When my daughter was 8 years old, I was singing that song and she changed the lyrics to something much more L.A. appropriate:

When you wish upon a star
Nothing happens, at least
so far.

Anonymous said...

What I love about LA is that every day, it witnesses the death of at least one wannabe. LA is much more than glam and glitz. In fact, the real glam is only visible from a safe distance. The decadence is what draws me to LA.