Not Escaping L.A.
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Not Escaping L.A. <br><br> By Marc Porter Zasada <br><br> - - LIKE MOST ANGELENOS I KNOW, you probably wonder where you-d go if you couldn-t take it anymore. It would have to be cheap, of course: An old adobe up a winding road outside of Taos. A cabin in a Humboldt rainforest. There-s that town where you rented a house on the beach one time, what was it called? Or that two-gas-station burg outside of Tahoe where you stayed among the pines: places known briefly, or glimpsed from a passing car -but nevertheless housing some part of your soul: a ghostly image of yourself sitting in the twilight on a front porch with a peaceful grin, listening to the wind rise in the trees.<br> - - You feel that, in a pinch, you could go. You-d get to know the locals, find a way to earn a few bucks, and build some simple, but effective life.<br> - - Indeed, this fantasy is probably fundamental to your sanity: it allows you to endure much more of this life, with its harrowing left turns on red, its knots of dangerous-looking boys outside the 7-11, its slugs of coffee before the emergency 5 p.m. meeting, its double-parked black BMWs.<br> - - My wife can produce a cardboard box of real estate flyers for country places we have passed through on family vacations: adverts pulled from plexiglass boxes nailed to -For Sale- signs along one-lane roads. She sometimes speaks of -leaving all this behind.-<br> - - Lately, at L.A. gatherings, when the casual guests have gone, the Urban Man finds that conversation often turns to the escape fantasy. Drinks in hand at the center of a teeming metropolis, my friends can quote prices for three acres within sight of Shasta. They imagine chopping wood and repairing fences.<br> - - At some point, I always make the same speech: -It-s not the place that matters, it-s the people. What would you say to your neighbors in that two-gas-station-town? Would you brag to them about your former life in the city? Those fifth row center season tickets at the Taper? The time you saw Dustin Hoffman on Westwood Boulevard?<br> - - Or-would you discuss the home fries at the new diner out on Route 395? Would you compare brands of weed-killer for gravel driveways?- And then I really warm up, and continue forcefully: -Neighbors are a lot more important in a small town, or so I hear, and for years they might think you an interloper. What if you wanted to discuss the latest Michael Chabon? Would you have to call someone in L.A.?-<br> - - The Urban Man lives every day in the metropolis without regret. I drop with joy from freeway ramps into glittering nights. I anticipate the opening bars of large musical productions.<br> - - But though my arguments are brilliant and unanswerable, I-m not sure my wife is still listening; and I am given to understand that there might come a day when she won-t be able to take it anymore. Indeed, I fear that in her imagination she is even now seated on that evening porch, the forest barely visible in the twilight, a soft breeze rising up out of the valley, a nightingale in full song. <p> Copyright - 2004 by Marc Porter Zasada, all rights reserved.
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