Leaving Los Angeles

There are people I love who live in Los Angeles. But after seven days there, I'm calling it quits. Seven days of freeways and strip malls and angst and donut places and tire warehouses and freeways and mini-marts and traffic and ugly, flat, junked-up streets stretching in every direction to the horizon.

Smirking hipsters. God.

Freeways, and 12-level parking structures with squeaky concrete floors and no empty spaces. Muzak blaring from speakers in the shrubs on Santa Monica Boulevard. A homeless guy squatting at the crosswalk, chatting and laughing into his hand, like there's a cell phone embedded in his palm and his agent's on the line.

Every year I fly to Los Angeles from the East Coast, or from the Middle East, because there are people there worth the trouble. I land at LAX and I rent a car and I drive around this city that is not a city at all but just a sticky web of car washes and burrito places and breathtakingly expensive purveyors of ironic clothing and shoes and musical instruments and food, a relentless net of ugly that inches across the length and breadth of LA County, connecting Pasadena with Burbank with West Hollywood with Santa Monica with El Segundo with Redondo Beach, smothering all of these diferent cities into one homogenous, never-ending suburb.

By the end of my weeklong stay, I was starting to think like my overcommitted and wrung-out friends. My friends have it figured out. When I am in town, I go to them. They do not come to me. I understand. This time, I really understand. No, I don't want to drive across this wasteland city any more, not even once more, no. I'll sit alone in my rental place and send you text messages. 

Adios, Los Angeles. We're through.