February 22, 2003

By Michael Strickland

"At Home" in the City of Angels

I've made no secret of my contempt for Los Angeles. On most levels, it embodies everything I hate: the people are shallow, open space is nearly non-existent, the city is highly overcrowded. So it is strange to feel at home as I spend a couple of days here.

Perhaps it is because I've spent relatively little time back in San Diego after living up here for three years. Or maybe it's the ratio of friends between the two cities (many more in L.A. than in San Diego). Whatever the cause, I have lately felt more out of place in San Diego than I do here in L.A. today.

From my vantage point here in Starbucks, it seems that nothing has changed. Most of the people in here look like actors. Not an ugly face in the crowd. And I'm the only one without a cell phone.

It's impossible to say what my future holds. The job market shows no signs of loosening up, and opportunities in San Diego are scarce. Though I vowed never to return to L.A., I may find myself rescinding that promise sooner than expected. Perhaps that earthquake last night was a sign....


It almost seems wrong to be experiencing such weather in the heart of winter. Though clear, sunny skies with temperatures in the 70s are not unusual for southern California in February, it seems almost an insult to the rest of the country, which has been wrestling with blizzards and subzero temperatures much of the past week.

This morning, I'm sitting in a Starbucks in North Hollywood, watching people walk by in shorts and tank tops, enjoying just another day in paradise. Tomorrow, back in San Diego, I have plans to join a group of people bicycling around Mission Bay. It's hard not to take such a perfect climate for granted. Michelle used to tell me how much Torontonians appreciated those rare days which are so common here, since they faced temperature extremes through most of the year—frigid snow during the winter, oppressive humidity in the summer. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why the population of southern California has exploded in the past 10-20 years.

And that's the flip side of our good fortune. The secret's out—the cat got out of the bag years ago. We live in paradise, but we share it with millions of other people. The other side of the coin is plain to see in L.A., where sunny skies are more often brown than blue. On any given day, it can take you an hour or two just to drive to the beach. And once there, it'll take you another hour just to find parking and an open spot on the sand. The downside is less visible in San Diego, but America's Finest City is rapidly going the way of its bloated neighbor to the north. Traffic is already reaching L.A. proportions, and much of the rest of the city's infrastructure is showing a strain. I can't help but wonder if a reverse-exodus will take place in the next 10 years, as people fed up with the overwhelming crowds and traffic return whence they came. But then again, from what I can tell, most other big cities have the same problems—without the perfect climate. So the crowds are probably here to stay.


Development note: I've noticed that this site doesn't look like it should in Netscape Navigator. Rather than waste time jury-rigging it to look right in a soon-to-be-obsolete browser, I'll just add the cliché "This site best viewed with Internet Explorer."
Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Chuckle:

All I want is less to do, more time to do it, and higher pay for not getting it done.

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

Today's Column
Send a Comment


2/21: Capri Memories
2/20: A Man is a God in Ruins
2/19: No Man is an Island
2/18: Iraq's "Cooperation"
2/17: Failure to Communicate
2/16: Cold City
2/15: Man-Eaters of Tsavo
2/14: Valentine Gems
2/13: Grab Bag
2/12: The End is Near
2/11: And the Winner Is...
2/10: Exploration is Risky Business
2/9: Staphylococcus
2/8: Morning Cup of Kofi
2/7: Game Over
2/6: The Eagle Never Landed
2/5: Pope: Potter No Problem
2/4: Time for Another Rewrite
2/3: A Matter of Opinions
2/2: Suicidal Bravado
2/1: Godspeed, Columbia

Like what you've read?
Find more good reading on

In Association with Amazon.com

(and support future Daily Stricks!)