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Big Wind<br> By Marc Porter Zasada<p> We Angelenos know we live in a restless and uncertain place. The earth moves. The shoreline shifts. And surely, we are just as unreliable. This afternoon, for example, an east wind blows down Wilshire Boulevard, right through our long term plans. It ripples pant legs and pulls at lapels, whispering the same line in every ear, "Hey buddy, isn't it time to move on? Haven't you been in that job nearly two years? Haven't you stuck out that marriage nearly ten?" <p> I seem to know fewer and fewer people who can hold out against these words: fewer and fewer who can stay put long enough to make any particular thing work out. <p> Again today, the Urban Man finds himself seated in a sunny backyard where I chat with a cheerful group beside a handsome pool. To the uninformed, it might appear to be a stable and satisfying picture of city life. <p> But overhead, that famous east wind blows hot through the banana leaves and eucalyptus trees. One acquaintance talks about pulling up stakes for a foreign country. Another plans to take up chiropracty. <p> Me, I'm watching my friend, let's call him Jerry, with careful attention: Jerry's a wiry, in fact a wired man of 35 who today arrived overdressed in a charcoal suit. That's him, off to the side, making bright conversation. Hey, maybe you know Jerry. The short-lived corporations? The late night calls to your cell phone about sudden opportunities? <p> Today, his good cheer has me especially worried. I've heard he has a new therapist who has inspired him to a new vision of life. Surely, he's on the verge of self-actualization. Any minute, he might launch a small project at a large company or a large project at a small company. Certainly, his wife looks worried. Late at night, when she looks up in the sky, she probably sees Jerry's guiding star heading out across some glittering black ocean of possibility. <p> You know, the City of L.A. has only been around a century and a half. But sometimes I wonder if the ancient Chumash Indians had the same problem with this dusty basin when they lived here hundreds of years ago. I've read some of their folk tales, and yes, they did tell many stories about men seized with a sudden desire to wander into the desert and get in trouble. In fact, sometimes, when I see a group of Angelenos sitting nervous and jumpy at an outdoor table on Sunset or Melrose, I imagine a crowd of ancient Chumash sitting uneasily outside their wattle huts, wrapped in their handmade blankets and perpetually talking about picking up and moving camp. <p> Instead of therapists and "life coaches," maybe they consulted medicine men who urged them to go on vision quests up into the canyons or down toward Baja. Maybe their professionals also said stuff like, "Keep trying new things until you find that one extraordinary thing, that thing that will make you into yourself, once and for all." Whenever a big wind sprang up, I'll bet the ancient Chumash also got restless looks on their faces, and held up a wet finger to see which way it might be blowing. <p> Back by the handsome pool in the modern metropolis, I glance into my friend's eyes, and I see that same impatient look probably found on untold generations of Angelenos. He shifts uncomfortably, and beneath his new suit, I'm sure our famous east wind's got him all hot and scratchy. Any minute he'll stand up, open his dark jacket like a sail, and let a big gust carry him away. <p> Copyright - 2005 Marc Porter Zasada. All rights reserved.<br>
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