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FROM THIS EPISODE

This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

Everyone in this business knows someone who's had a close call. I don't mean crossing the street and almost getting hit by a bus, I mean a career close call. I can think of two people right now that a couple of years ago were seriously thinking about packing it in and doing something else, and who are now probably listening to this while driving a very expensive new car on the way to a very expensive dinner. Life, and fortunes, change – especially in this business.

I also know a couple of folks for whom things changed for the worse. And that's the other side of the entertainment business carrousel.

Which is one of the reasons it's useful, every now and then, to notice what some other people do for a living. I've been involved in an organization called My Friends Place for almost 10 years – it's a homeless youth agency based in Hollywood – right on Hollywood Boulevard, actually – and the people who work there everyday, and the good souls who volunteer there week in and week out – fill me with a kind of jealous admiration. If I was a better, less selfish, less greedy person, I'd like to think I'd fit right into their team, doing the hard, necessary work of trying to get young vulnerable abused people off the streets and into safe, productive lives, trying to get homeless new moms – barely out of childhood themselves – into parenting classes, secure housing, and new beginnings.

I know, I know. It's an awful cliché – especially this time of year, especially during a recession – to start talking about how blessed and lucky we all are – all of us listening to KCRW, all of us toiling in this baroque, over-the-top industry, living in this sunny city next to this spectacular beach – and how there are some people who don't complain about the bottled water and the network notes and the new media residuals, who do difficult jobs for way less money, or who don't have houses to worry about the declining value of…if that's a sentence. You know what I mean.

I mean, for me, anyway, that I'm lucky. I'm lucky to be able to complain about the things I complain about on the radio. I'm lucky to have worked for so long in a business designed to break your heart. And in 2011, I'm going to try to keep that in mind for as long as I can.

You can find out more about My Friends Place by going to myfriendsplace – all one word – dot ORG. It's a hugely effective, grassroots, growing, amazing place doing hard, hard work: helping young people get off the streets, get healthy, get safe, get educated, and get back into better, stronger lives. And we can use all the help we can get. Check us out – if you're looking for a small, effective, efficient, worthy place to give your money or your time to, My Friend's Place could be your place.

And that's it for this week. Next week, the town shuts down. In the meantime, head over to KCRW.com/MartiniShot and tell us what makes you lucky. For KCRW, this is Rob Long.

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