Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Leaving on a Jet Plane. . . .

Old classic songs make for catchy Blog titles, don’t they?
Actually, I am returning home from a successful trip to San Diego. That city lived up to its promise of sunny days and mild temperatures. You’d think with all my grousing about Chicago weather that I’d love to move to Southern California, but I had quite my fill of living in Los Angeles, thank you.
My great-grandparents and grandparents made the traditional flight from the New York and Detroit to warmer climes and never seemed to complain about it. I was born in L.A. and went to high school in the “Valley” at the time that the phrase “Valley Girl” was something to make girls like me cringe. But I spent too many years in the Pacific Northwest to adapt fully.
The lack of weather became boring. I think it was Johnny Carson who said that L.A.’s 4 seasons were smog, fire, mud and heat. In fact, in the valley, it was usually just smog and heat. You needed to be well-to-do enough to live in the hills to suffer from mud-slides and forest fires. There were no forests and no mud in the valley when I lived there, only concrete. Rivers were concrete washes with murals painted on the walls. Playgrounds were asphalt. Even grass wasn’t. It was something called dichondra.
We never had snow days at school. We had smog alerts and heat days. Weather reports used terms like “inversion layer” and “Santa Ana conditions.” I remember the day the wind blew away the smog and I realized for the first time that there were mountains near my home that actually had snow on them in the winter.
But it was the culture that bothered me the most. My husband says Chicago kids cut school to go to Cubs games. LA kids cut school to go to the beach. Your value is measured by your clothes, tan and car. Tanning came easily but I never had a cool car or clothes. My mother owned the ultra-chic Ford Granada and we lived in trendy Van Nuys. Women in LA buy whatever sub-zero rated winter coat is fashionable in New York and actually wear it out-of–doors although the only sub-zero in LA is a refrigerator brand name.
The cultural highlights of my youth in LA were getting to see the back lot of Warner Bros Studios (family connection) and having my photo taken on the set of The Waltons. I saw James Caan filming a movie and my high school was used as a movie set. Emergency was once filmed in the parking lot nearby. I was able to line up to see the first 3 Star Wars movies before my peers in the Midwest.
It was in LA that I saw my first flasher (yuck). I learned that oil spills make the beaches sticky (double yuck). I took classes at UCLA and called USC, the University of Spoiled Children (abbreviated U$¢). Needless to say we hated their football team. Rumor (probably false) had it that gang initiations involved assaulting USC men and raping USC women.
Well, this rant is long enough. It has to end before I arrive in Chicago and freeze my tuchus off after all.
Signing off for now.

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