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FROM THIS EPISODE

This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

Writers, like farmers, can find the bad news in any kind of weather.

When it rains, a little too much, farmers complain about the bumper crop, which means over supply and collapsing prices. When it rains a little too little, they complain about parched soil, no crops, lower income.

Writers are the same way: when business is slow, it means no money, no work, too much free time to daydream and websurf. But when you're working, when you sell a project, it means deadlines, phone calls, and the tense panic of procrastination.

But mostly, people in this industry – and when I say "people in this industry," I'm really referring to myself. I often take my personal, individual character flaws and apply them universally, so when I say things like "people in this industry are lazy" or "people in this industry are running out of ideas" or "people in this industry need to lose fifteen pounds" what I'm really saying is that people in this industry like to project their failings onto people in this industry.

People in this industry complain a lot. Too much, really. About what can only be called "high class problems." That's pretty much what I do here, weekly, on KCRW. It's sort of the definition of this gig. But at least one out of the 52 four-minute complain-a-thons, right around this time of year, I try to take a break and talk about something else.

There are, right now, a whole lot of homeless youth living on the streets in Los Angeles. It's cold and wet this time of year, but it's dangerous – really, deadly dangerous – all year round. I've been a part of an organization called My Friend's Place for over ten years that tirelessly tries to turn the tide of homeless youth around – get young people off the streets, out of harm's way, and into safe, healthy, productive lives. And because a lot of those young people have babies themselves, My Friend's Place has the opportunity to break a terrible cycle.

The organization is called My Friend's Place, and what it manages to do on a shoestring is nothing short of amazing. Lives are changed, saved, salvaged. The youth who find themselves on the street get there after years of almost unbelievable abuse and constant betrayal by the adults in their lives, so the sheer hard work of building trust, day by day, minute by minute, by the staff of My Friend's Place is as close to an actual miracle as you'll find.

And they manage to do it for a less than people in this industry would spend on a half-hour pilot. A lot less. And that's good – a lean organization is an efficient one. My Friend's Place spends it money carefully. The staff work inhuman hours doing something – often without thanks – that they believe in.

My Friend's Place is a hands-on place. It's a local place. Local is very big right now, on menus and at farmer's markets – but this year, I'd like to ask you to get local in your giving. There are lots of macro problems, I know, but if you can, check out My Friend's Place – that's my friends place (all one word) dot org – and if you've got something small (or large) to spare, please send it along. You'll be making a real difference in the lives of young people. You'll be making a real difference in the life of this city.

And that's where people in this industry live, work, and complain.

That's it for this week. Next week, we'll wonder if this material works. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.

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