Go west

January 04 2014

It figures. I've been on this list for well over a year and always figured I'd have the perfect thing to say when the time came, yet here I sit not having a clue.

At one point I had thought about writing about myself, how I grew up in suburban Oklahoma and moved to Los Angeles after high school nearly 14 years ago to study film and writing at USC, but instead (and wisely) went into digital publishing and have had a good deal of success there. But that seemed self-indulgent.

At another point, I wanted to write about Los Angeles, and how it is both distinctly cruel and benevolent. Just when the traffic has you entertaining nearly constant thoughts of suicide or the most perverse yet ostentatious form vehicular manslaughter, you find yourself headed toward the coast alone on Mulholland one summer evening just after sunset with the windows open and the wind carrying the sweet earthy scent of chaparral and sage, a Joe Frank monologue on the radio, and you realize that anything and everything is possible. But that's been done before.

Maybe I'll write a list of favorites—authors like TC Boyle, a mentor and an inspiration—or Stewart O'Nan, Denis Johnson or Dan Choan; filmmakers like Hitchcock, Kazan, Sayles or Wyler. I'd go into music it but it'd take to long and lists are too often boring anyway.

So maybe I'll just quote my favorite passage from what I've always regarded as The Perfect American Novel (and maybe the Greatest, but that superlative has always seemed a bit loaded to me), "All the King's Men," chapter 7:

"I was headed out down a long bone-white road, straight as a string and smooth as glass and glittering and wavering in the heat and humming under the tires like a plucked nerve. I was doing seventy-five but I never seemed to catch up with the pool that seemed to be over the road just this side of the horizon. Then, after a while, the sun was in my eyes, for I was driving west. So I pulled the sun screen down and squinted and put the throttle to the floor. And kept on moving west. For West is where we all plan to go someday. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying: 'Flee, all is discovered.' It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and see the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire. It is where you go to grow up with the country. It is where you go to spend your old age. Or it is just where you go."

If you ever moved west from Oklahoma or thereabouts, you probably know the feeling.

Always try to do interesting things and be well.

[email protected]
Los Angeles, CA, Dec. 2013

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