Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On The Road To Find Out (part 2)

As I’m writing this I’m somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. (Unfortunately I won’t be able to post this until I land. Apparently the modern miracle of WiFi on planes has not quite reached Asiana Airlines’ trans-Pacific flights yet. Not that I’m complaining—it’s pretty amazing that any airplanes have WiFi. Internet in the air! What a country!) I have no idea what time it is, although my watch is still set to Eastern time and the video display in front of me is flashing the current times in LA and Seoul on a regular basis. Time is kind of relative when you’re on a red eye over the Pacific.

I had a great time in New York. Got to hang out with a lot of old friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in years. (Even some of the ones with kids! They don’t all get out much, you know, on account of the kids.) I remember one of the last times I visited New York, I got off the subway at Grand Central some time around rush hour and thought, “Man, I don’t know if I could ever live here again.” Once you’ve been gone it’s hard to imagine jumping back into the crowds, the expense and the long subway rides. This time around the town seemed a lot more… manageable? Amicable? I’m not sure. Probably it all had a lot more to do with my state of mind. It’s easier to enjoy any place when you know you’ve got a good salary coming and you don’t have to squeeze every dime until it screams. (Not that I was on a spending spree or anything, but you know how it is, New York has a way of getting into your wallet.)

It also probably had a lot to do with the last year and a half in LA, which was not a fun time to be in the film business in California. I’ll admit, I’m going to owe the city of LA an explanation for all the trash I’ve been talking about it if I end up back there. I mean, there’s things I like about LA… the weather, the Dodgers, absurdly large, sloppy hamburgers (I’ve probably enjoyed that aspect a little too much), running into random directors at movie screenings, the lax speed limit enforcement on the I-10 going west between the hours of 10PM and 5AM, and of course all the friends I’ve left behind. An increasing number of my New York friends are actually moving out west as of late. Unfortunately, with the lack of decent work and the broken government it’s hard to focus on the good things instead of the other things: the traffic, the persistent layers of dust from the air pollution, the fact that the whole city acts like it’s made of sugar every time there’s a light rainfall, Beverly Hills snobs who cock-block West Side public transportation (no offense to my very reasonable friends in Beverly Hills), Orange County Republicans, liberals who care more about chickens than civil rights, people from Ohio who move to the desert, build giant strip malls and still insist on watering their lawns (to quote the late, great Sam Kinison, “YOU LIVE IN A FUCKING DESERT!!!”), going to bars where everyone seems to be more worried about looking good than having a good time, anyone wearing anything by that fucking Ed Hardy designer… I think it all boils down to the fact that I hate living in a place where it seems like most people’s aspirations are to look good, show off, smile for the camera, stand in lines and spend the most money on the least important shit, and the people with decent aspirations and dreams just seem to end up getting trampled underfoot.

That said, I’m trying to keep in mind that everywhere looks nicer when you’re a tourist. I mean, I hated Buffalo when I was growing up there—it was boring, it was economically depressed, and there just didn’t seem to be much for anyone with any sort of ambition to do there. Now that I’m older and I’ve seen a little more of the world, it seems a lot nicer. We’ve still got an NFL team (barely), the people are notoriously nice and friendly, and since the housing bust completely missed Western New York because the housing values never went up, everyone my age there is taking advantage of the new federal tax credits and buying houses. Sure, it’s still boring, but sometimes as you get older your priorities change. I mean, for an $80K house and a job at M&T maybe I could give up on Pho, decent Mexican and Major League Baseball…

All this coming from the guy who’s on a plane to Korea. Sheesh.

At any rate, I guess I should be glad that I’ve had the opportunity to take on this amazing job opportunity, as well as travel across the country and say “so long for now” to so many people. So in closing, I hope you’ve all enjoyed my mostly unedited rant, and I’ll see you again as soon as I get some vacation time or they fire me and throw me out of the country for some reason. Maybe I should use the time I’ve got left to start reviewing my scant notes on how to speak and read Korean…

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