LA state of mind

The Kinkos on Sunset Blvd. is littered with the broken and bloodied dreams of screenwriters, but the mood in the place is surprisingly upbeat.

Something I always notice in LA is the way people strike up conversations with anyone and everyone beginning with the assumption that you're in some way working in the entertainment industry. The wardrobe is creativity du soliel -- a big switch from the Amish community black you see in the New York publishing neighborhoods. Of course, BS is a byproduct of almost every exchange, and that gets annoying, but even the blowhards are sort of lovable because they're trying so dang hard.

I have to admit, I usually hate LA, but this was a good trip. I got a lot accomplished, finally got to see In Bruges, and ate at Mel's, the diner where they filmed parts of American Graffiti. Two things happened on this trip that really impressed me and made me think I've had LA all wrong:

Monday evening, I went to a reading of a one-act play by a not famous staff writer on a good but not huge television show and was blown away by the people who turned out to support her. There were a LOT of very recognizable faces in the small theater, but not one ego that was too big to fit in a chair. That kind of support from people who have that kind of clout is something book writers will never have, and that -- to be blunt -- is why we'll never make that kind of money.

Preparing for an important meeting on Tuesday, I was mortified to discover that the hotel business center didn't have a functional printer. I race up the street to Kinkos and found Hollywood writer purgatory jammed to the rafters with long lines of people as enervated as I was. After half an hour, I seized the hand of a passing employee and quietly said, "I have a meeting in 18 minutes with [producer whose name you'd recognize if I said it here, which is why I can't] and I am begging you for mercy."

He nodded knowingly and led me to his "private stash" area, printed four copies of the forty pages I needed for the meeting and sent me on my way with best wishes. Twenty minutes later, standing on the veranda of the producer's bozillion dollar home in the Hollywood hills, I looked out over LA.

It was sunny above the smog.

Here's the trailer for In Bruges. See it if you get a chance.


Wow, Joni! This is exciting. I'm living vicariously through your trip.

Thanks for sharing. I can almost smell the desperationg at that Kinkos.

Hang tough!

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