My brother Steve flew over Hollywood today in his orange airplane (on his way back up to Mountain View, CA, I assume) and took a few pictures from the cockpit. One of them was right over my old house, shown here with a red arrow:
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I have always characterized myself in that house as a vessel of pure misery; by 1998, after living there for a year, I began to loathe Los Angeles and everyone in it. One of my first blogs ever was written about that Beachwood house, and though that entry was tainted with the bleakness that followed Sept. 11, my feelings towards Hollywood have remained relatively steadfast: it was an awful time, an awful place, full of criminally uninteresting people, and I wasted years 30 through 33 being there at all.
Strange, then, that I have these occasional longings for it. Ever since our trip to L.A. in January, I’ve had to re-assess my experience. The movie we are about to finish was written at that house, and I’ve come to understand that my social shortcomings were as much based in my own horseshit as they were in the collective clue of my peers.
I’ll stand by the statement that Los Angeles is the worst place to be single on Earth (well, that or a Turkish disco) and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone aching to meld with a loved one. But it did provide me with a forced monkhood that allowed a switch of priorities which, in turn, allowed me to be with Tessa a few years later.
Also, this was a time when anyone with a good idea could make a fantastic living. Having helped invent the editorial look and feel for CitySearch, I stayed on as their movie reviewer, and they still had the money to pay me. There was a sense, in about 1999 or so, that we had entered a brave new world in America, where new companies like Amazon and web-broadcasts like Radio GoGaGa were leading us into a future where there were, like Donald Fagen sang, “just machines to make big decisions, programmed by fellows with compassion and vision.”
Even though I was still dialing up with a 14400 baud modem on my PowerBook 1400, we were all 5 years into email, a year into online shopping, and three weeks into listening to my hometown radio station streaming from North Carolina over a pair of spliced speakers.
This was before September 11th crucified our spirit, before George Bush II stole the presidency, and before Dook won its third national championship. It was back when duct tape was used to seal ducts. There was no hint of Armageddon in the air in those warm, long Hollywood afternoons; as long as you made rent ($475), the month was yours to do with as you pleased. I was desperately unhappy, sure, but it was the kind of unhappiness you can look back upon with a certain nostalgia.
Do you know what I miss most of all? Kozmo.com. What an amazing thing we had for a few years there. Any time of day or night, someone could bring you Krispy Kreme donuts, a Red Bull, the DVD of “My Favorite Year,” and 100 feet of coaxial cable. Deep into a project, I would click on Kozmo and grab whatever I wanted. Moments later, the door would ring or in 2000, the secretary would page me