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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 13, 2006 5:36 AM. The previous post in this blog was Can you hear me now?. The next post in this blog is Wrong number. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Any time of year, you can find it here

So there I was spending a week cruising around southern California giving speeches to extremely well heeled professional groups. We're talking serious dough, people, and I was making some suggestions to them about how to keep Uncle Sam away from it. I was on a half-day panel with four speakers, and we did "the show" four times -- San Diego, Newport Beach, Westwood, and Pasadena. In between, we ate fine food, drank good wine, stayed in excellent hotels, and were chauffeured around in high-class vehicles, including one stretch limo ride where we cracked open the bourbon decanter and the gigantic shrimp cocktails. Amazing thing, money.

I hadn't spent time in L.A. in more than a decade. Thirty years ago, I spent my first summer there and fell in love with the place. As big and as fast and as hard and as dirty as America's second city is, I still feel welcome and at home there. Beneath all its limitations there is still something highly attractive -- a sense that you can have something almost as smart and spectacular as New York, but with much better weather and a far more carefree attitude. You just have to be careful where you go, and learn how to survive all the time you spend on the freeways.

And they're not all free any more in Southern Cal. At one point -- I think it was in Orange County -- our driver stopped and paid a toll.

I got to spend a little time reflecting on who I had been in my two ancient summers in the City on Angels, and how much has changed since then. When you're in your 20s, all the institutions that you get close to seem eternal -- they've always been there and they always will be. And the keepers of the keys, the people who show you around, seem like they'll last as long as the buildings. Well, all the buildings from the '70s are still there, along with a bunch of new ones that they've thrown up since, but times change, and the vast majority of the occupants are very different. Nothing's forever except what's inside you and what you share with other people.

L.A.'s changed in 30 years, and not for the better, but of course that's true all up and down the West Coast. I still rate Portland as a better place for me, but it was a close call when I made the choice back then, and the margin of preference isn't that much greater now. You make tradeoffs.

By the last day of speeches -- the toughest day, because we had two sessions scheduled -- we were all a bit punchy. But when the lights came up on the stage, we all snapped to and did the gigs as strong as ever. At our last event, on a spectacularly sunny afternoon at an impossibly beautiful hotel, I was two steps from the podium when I realized I had left my notes in the place where we had spoken that morning. We had been on a tight schedule against downtown traffic (which goes all day and night down there), and in my haste to pack up and dash into the Lexus, I had left the crucial notepad on the dais.

I had been feeling a bit weary over a quickie lunch, but you talk about your shot of adrenaline when I realized I would have to wing it. My colleagues helped me out by shuffling our order and buying me some time to go hide in the hotel business center and reconstruct the notes from memory. It wasn't hard, since this was the fourth time I was giving the talk in three days. The shakeup actually did my performance some good, and it was a nice story to tell the audience. People want to be in the room with you, in the present, and it always helps to establish a connection with them on that level. Probably the best audience I ever had was one I addressed years ago in a dirty t-shirt after Delta Airlines lost my luggage.

Anyway, we had been treated like stars, and for a moment I fantasized that my co-speakers and I were the Beatles. Whisked away from show to show, watching each other in action, seeing how each performance and each audience are at least a little bit different from the last. There are the jokes that you tell the audience, and then there are the private jokes among the group that are on the audience. Fortunately, I had great hosts and great mates on our mini-tour. The George and Ringo figures of the group were obvious, but I couldn't figure out whether I was John or Paul. I'd prefer John, but as the colleague whom I tagged as Ringo put it, "At least I'm still alive."

Comments (21)

some days i ache for L.A. I just kick myself for ever leaving and swearing i'd never go back. I kept my word.

I suppose living in places like Coos Bay and Klamath Falls will do that. But Portland holds no appeal for me.

Glad you enjoyed your trip.

Rollin' down the Imperial Highway
With three tax experts at my side
Santa Ana wind blowin' hot from the north
And we was born to ride

1975...livin' at the beach in Long Beach...
I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Sunshine... every day!
Long live "sex and drugs and rock n' roll".

I lived in Venice in the late 70s just before it became another Yuppieville. Had a two-bedroom bungalow five blocks from the beach for $400 a month. Now that same place is probably close to $2000 a month.

But L.A. is at least in one way better than it was 30 years ago. The air is cleaner, thanks to California's strict environmental and emissions standards.

And I'll also take today's Portland over the city of 30 years ago. Three decades ago, Portland was just starting to emerge from being a pretty sleepy, boring town with a decaying downtown and typical suburban sprawl. It was almost entirely white and there was a great deal of racism towards African-Americans, particularly on the police force. And it was almost totally in the hands of fossilized big business interests, as represented by Frank Ivancie (who would make Ginny Burdick look charismatic).

We now have far more racial and ethnic diversity (which translates into better restaurants and culture). We have more transportation options.
And regardless of what you think of Portland's city commissioners, they are not all in the same pocket of the PBA.

a decaying downtown and typical suburban sprawl. It was almost entirely white and there was a great deal of racism towards African-Americans, particularly on the police force. And it was almost totally in the hands of fossilized big business interests, as represented by Frank Ivancie

Not to get too off-topic here, but what's changed other than Frank Ivancie?

I loved LA when Mrs. Wino and I were DINKs--the restaurants, the culture (yes, there's culture), the beaches, the weather, and the Mexican food (not necessarily from restaurants).

Now we're SI3Ks (Sithkies?). Portland wins by a long shot. I can't imagine a better place to raise the little winos.

Of course, if you're riding in limos - the traffic is much more bearable. And not even "traffic" in the bumper-to-bumper sense -- I mean the way that Angelenos are perfectly happy driving 40 minutes to do something mundane.

In LA, it's perfectly acceptable to meet a friend for a drink 40 minutes from home, then drive 40 minutes (separately) to a restaurant for dinner, then drive 40 minutes (again, separately) to a club, and then drive another 40 minutes (yup) to get dessert somewhere, and then 40 minutes home.

In LA, it's perfectly acceptable to spend 3+ hours driving around (alone) during a long evening on the town with friends.


It would take tons of money to do L.A. right, particularly with children. But had I stayed, I believe that would not have been an issue.

My definitive L.A. moment - other than the time I went through after midnight during the hitchhiking years - was the awards banquet I attended. I had met all these movie stars during dinner but that was over and everyone was heading out to the valet parking nightmare in front. Who should come into view but Robert Shapiro of O.J.s Dream Team. I said hello and we shook hands. Outside in the weirdly comfortable night air, it all merged together. L.A. is palm trees and movie stars, but it's also slashed bodies in pools of blood. And that freeway chase in the white Ford Bronco? That was the ultimate L.A. moment.

Anti LA snobbery in Portland is sometimes fun to watch: once, years back, I was driving around downtown PDX with Randy Newman's song blaring out the rolled down windows. People sneered at me; one guy flipped me off. Then another approached at a crosswalk asked to shake my hand.

I like the line from the female lead in LA Story about how she started out seeing LA as an intellectual desert, but came to see it as a desert that people turned into their dreams.

L.A. is palm trees and movie stars, but it's also slashed bodies in pools of blood.

"Forget it, Jake; it's Chinatown."

Chinatown, the story of Wlliam Mullholland and water in LA, reminds me of the story of Neil Golschmidt and transit in Portland. Interesting how the LA times editorial crowd was in his corner and it took years for journalists to acknowledge the crooked aspects of it all.

Mr Chisholm - I have a couple of friends who live in Newport Beach and work out of their homes, believe me, I'd swap if I could get the wife to go along with it.

Mr Bog - I was sorely tempted five years ago to move to San Diego. Any comparisons to LA?

Despite three trips there in the last eight months or so, I don't have a feel for San Diego. Which makes me think I'd be better off in L.A., which I instantly liked.

"which I instantly liked"?
Jack, come back to us. I can't picture you sitting at the Staples Center cheering for Kobe. By the way, the Lakers have also tainted the song "I Love LA" for me. So what is the ultimate tune about Los Angeles? The Doors have to be in contention with "LA Woman"..."Well, I just got into town about an hour ago. Took a look around see, which way the wind blows." They even dubbed the place "City of Night" - so much for all those sunny days. But I think the best song about LA is "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Of course, it's about a death from an overdose but we aren't talking about Mayberry here, are we?

"Sometimes I feel
Like I don't have a partner
Sometimes I feel
Like my only friend
Is the city I live in
The city of angels
Lonely as I am
Together we cry"

I could never root for the Lakers now. But I might have, had I stayed where I landed down there in the '70s. The firms that I worked for showed you a real good time back in those days.

Why live in LA when you have so much to slam here in Portland, Jack?

The trolls up here are so much more friendly.

Speaking as a guy who telecommutes to LA every day, I have to say, LA has made some big improvements. The ingress/egress factor of LAX and 405 is way better than it was 10-20 years ago. I-105 is complete (seems like it was under construction for 20 years, but I guess it was), the "Jewelery District" (aka "old theater district") downtown is safe to walk again, at least by day, if not by night. You can actually see the city by mass transit, too. A shuttle will take you from Burbank airport or LAX to downtown LA, Hollywood, Universal, Burbank... If that's not enough, you can still surf without a wetsuit down there. I enjoy my monthly visits immensely.

"A nice place to visit, but don't plan to stay."

next time you are down there, and you have some time, have someone take you out to the Palos Verdes area. It's a lot more built up than it was when i was a kid, and we roamed the fields and canyons unimpeded, but still beautiful, with beautiful houses, a gorgeous coastline, and even little cafes tucked in here and there along the main roads.


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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