Last Sunday marked the thirty-fifth anniversary of my moving here from Canada, to work in American show business. The following are three of my earliest and most penetrating observations concerning my adopted country. It’s not the entire story by any stretch. It’s just three things that hit early – Bam! Bam! Bam!
The first thing I noticed – it seems trivial but it really stood out – was that in America, you got your newspaper delivered every single day. Back then, in Toronto, either for religious reasons, or because employers felt newspaper workers deserved an occasional break, there were no newspaper on Sundays, Christmas Day and New Year’s. Here, neither God nor compassion got in the way of customers’ receiving their papers. Which got me thinking,
“America really cares about service.”
Shortly after my arrival, I was watching a “Breaking News” report on a local TV station. The authorities had surrounded a house in Los Angeles, where members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, a radical political organization, were holed up. It was a standoff. Nothing happening for hours. Then, as I’m watching, and this wasn’t entirely clear, but it seemed like the authorities set the house on fire, with the people they were trying to capture still inside. That ended the standoff. Which got me thinking,
“America doesn’t fool around.”
A couple of months later, when I arrive at the office of the show, Phyllis, where I’m working, I’m informed that an actress who's a “regular” on the show has been killed. “Was it a car accident?” I inquire, the only way I could conceive of for someone not sick or very old dying unexpectedly.
“No,” I was told. “She was murdered.” They called it a “drive-by”, a term I had never heard before. Which got me thinking, in a swirling haze of shock, confusion and dismay,
“I must want to be in American show business really badly.”
It’s important to remember the way you used to think. An “outsider’s perspective” doesn’t last forever.
I’ve rewritten portions of “Writing at the Speed of Thought.” (April 3, 2009.) Check it out. It’s better.