Lost and Found in Los Angeles

by earlkabong on February 7, 2011

So where were we? Oh, yeah, The Rose Bowl.

It’s been more than a month since the last real dispatch, because that’s how long I’ve been hanging out in Los Angeles, six weeks of staying in one place, more or less. But that’s about to change.

I’ve finished all the assignments that have occupied my time and attention and kept me anchored in the Greater Los Angeles vicinity. It’s like I came back to L.A. and re-entered my previous life – hanging out on sets, interviewing celebrities, licking all the condiment containers in friends’ refrigerators when they weren’t paying attention. It’s as if I never left.

It’s felt like less of an adventure. The streets are too familiar. The rhythms too routine. I lived here for nearly 20 years. And, even though I’m living in a van, sleeping on a different side street every night, I found it surprisingly easy to settle into old patterns. On the road, in towns I don’t know, I tend to go out at night, go to movies, go to clubs, explore. Here I hang out with friends and watch tv. Even though it’s Los Angeles – Hollywood – a place people fantasize about, especially when there’s 20 inches of snow on the ground – I tend not to leave my house. Or van, as the case may be.

Malcolm McDowell

Which isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed it. The weather has been terrific. There have been days by the beach, on mountainsides, under the shade of palm trees. There was that weekend in Ojai where I ended up sitting next to Malcolm McDowell in a coffee shop, eavesdropping as he re-created a conversation with someone – a director, I think – with whom he’d had a spat.

“So, you’re saying I’m a shit, because I don’t like your shit?,” he sputtered. You don’t get to overhear that sort of thing in Saginaw. Or maybe you do. But it won’t be Malcolm McDowell saying it.

But being still for a while has its advantages. The Traipsemobile, for the first few months I lived in it, felt like a place where I slept, a cool means of getting around, but it didn’t really feel like home. It didn’t feel like I lived there. Now it does. I’ve crossed some kind of threshold.

There have been days – one in particular involving a kidney stone – where I didn’t leave the van for 24 hours. And, to my surprise, I didn’t feel hemmed in. I turned down invitations to move to friends’ guest rooms. I realized that when I didn’t feel well, this was the place I preferred to be. That’s how I knew I was home.

I’m still conscious that I’m parked in the street, but once I close that curtain, the outside world kind of disappears. Maybe it’s just the passage of time, that I know where everything is without having to look for it. There’s something kind of cool that, no matter where I am, I’m surrounded by a familiar space – my closet, my bed, my bathroom. It’s my own little universe and I take it wherever I go.

Jeff Cesario

So, for instance, when I went up to Ojai to see my friend, Jeff Cesario, doing stand-up, we hung out after the show, shooting the shit until nearly 2 a.m., after which he had to drive all the way back to Los Angeles. I walked across the street and went to bed. My bed.

I’ll be curious to see if this continues, once I’m back out on the road. Maybe driving all day, entering unknown territories, will  change the Traipsemobile back into what it was before – a mobile sleep pod. But I don’t think so.

I’ll find out soon enough. I’m taking a little side trip to Fresno this week, to get the microwave re-mounted at the West Coast Sportsmobile office. And I’ll probably go to Vegas for a bit, maybe down to San Diego. I won’t start heading back towards Texas until March. Because, among other things, I get the Weather Channel. I’m spending the winter  in L.A. for a reason, people. It’s 70 degrees and sunny. Do the math.

But I’m ready to get moving again. I’ll go back to Texas, finish reporting the Bernie story and then, weather permitting, start the long drive towards Alaska and Prudhoe Bay. And there won’t be anything routine about that.