Do you remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine was dating a man specifically because he was extremely handsome and then the man and George went rock climbing and he fell off the mountain and his face wound up completely swathed in bandages and Elaine dumped him because she was afraid that he was – or at least might – no longer be extremely handsome?
There was that “one particular attribute.” That’s what attracted her to him. Otherwise, he was nothing special. Not overly smart, or wealthy or accomplished. The man had only one thing going for him. He was the noteworthy possessor of, as the Jews call it, a shayne punim. (A pretty face.)
Understandably, Elaine, superficial person that she is (or brutally honest person that she is, take your pick), apprehensive that the man’s singular distinction had been deleted from his resume, headed immediately for the exit. That’s what we loved above Elaine. As superficial and selfish as we are, Elaine was breathtakingly worse. (As were George and to a lesser degree though he could often be quite horrible, Jerry.)
Consider me, in the context of this analogy, to be Elaine. The attractive-looking man in this case is Los Angeles. Its “one particular attribute”? The weather.
Fact: The Los Angeles weather has gone haywire.
And right now, I am more than ready to bail.
Let’s be honest. Aside from the weather, Los Angeles does not have a lot of things going for it. (I exclude “career opportunities”, because if the television business were located there instead of here, I would be comfortably ensconced in Cincinnati.)
Let’s start with what’s important. The bagels in Los Angeles are terrible. Ditto for the pizza. (It’s the water.) There is almost no sense of “community feeling.” (Unless there’s an earthquake in which case we are a community who cannot relate to each other because we are all in shock. Or there’s a riot, when we discover that we are actually two separate communities.)
Los Angeles is huge. So getting anywhere requires you to endure the ever-increasing snarls of traffic, navigating precarious superhighways, opening you to life-threatening encounters with inept and infuriating drivers. Like me.
As far as architectural beauty is concerned, head down a street in any opulent neighborhood, and you’ll see, side by side, a house that looks like a Middle Eastern palace standing next to a Tudor-style mansion standing next to a “Gingerbread House” if the Gingerbread Man were a venture capitalist, standing next to a white-columned Gigantus that could easily be neighbors with Thomas Jefferson in Monticello.
The architectural common denominator?
“We have money. We can build whatever we want.”
True, there is geographical beauty in Los Angeles, with a picturesque range of mountains to the East, and the magnificent Pacific on the West. But on most days, the smog is so thick, you have no idea that the mountains are there. And when it is overcast – which means pretty much the entire summer – the sky and the ocean are indistinguishable, offering the look of an extended sky.
There is nothing special about that. You can see sky anywhere.
So what you’re left with, in terms of “bragging rights”, is only one thing:
And when that “one particular attribute” lets you down…
Rightly or wrongly, the residents of Los Angeles feel incredibly ripped off.
I know it hasn’t rained much here in the last…decade or two. But when it does – and these visits of moisture occur almost exclusively in the winter; there have been a mere handful of Dodgers rainouts since their arrival in 1958 – the people in Los Angeles are really upset. You can see it in their faces, and in their Manhattan-style short-temperedness.
The are looking for somebody to punish!
Or at least a refund.
“What do you think we came here for, the Chinese cuisine?” (Which, inexplicably, because I do not believe metallic-tasting water is involved, is as deficient as the bagels and the pizza.)
“We want our sunshine!”
“We want our sunshine!”
And just the right amount of sunshine to boot! Right now… well, let me first say this.
Los Angeles very often has the most agreeable weather in the nation. (Santa Monica, where I live, has the most agreeable weather in Los Angeles.)
What we are used to in Santa Monica is bright sunshine, temperatures in the low seventies, and a light breeze blowing gently in off the ocean. (Note: Our house does not have, and has rarely needed, air-conditioning.)
What do we have today? Bright sunshine. But you can’t go out into it because outside, today and for the entire past week, it has been…
(And if it’s ninety-seven in Santa Monica, it is invariably over a hundred further inland.)
There little to no breeze, and what breeze there is, is blowing in the “wrong” direction – from the desert towards the ocean – bringing with it the entire accumulation of urban smog, its unwelcome presence represented by a discernible layer of rust-colored air hovering sickeningly over the horizon.
This is not what we came here for. Not for the rain, and not for the triple-digit temperatures more typically associated with Phoenix. And who wants to live there?
When we deliberately moved here!
The only thing that’s good here. And they unexpectedly – and highly annoyingly – took it away.
Elaine Benes – for the first time – in retrospect – I feel you. (Unsolicited Confession: I have never used the phrase “I feel you” before. Maybe it’s because I innately lack empathy. Or maybe it’s because it sounds somewhat physically invasive. But today seems to be a day of “firsts.” Uncharacteristic Los Angeles weather. A possibly subliminally provocative phrase I have never uttered before. And my, for the first time ever, ending a blog post with parentheses.)
(Personal Note: If this blog post in not entirely up to snuff, forgive me. It is really frickin’ hot!)