A woman is typing on her computer at Intelligentsia, a hipster coffee shop in Silverlake that reminds me of Bedford Avenue. In the three weeks I spent in Los Angeles, I went there almost everyday to work because it attracted the kind of ridiculousness I’m always looking for in that city. This woman was older, maybe in her late thirties, and had tattoos. She was typing slowly on her old MacBook when she stopped to answer a phone call. She talked to whoever this person was on the other end of line about how hard it was for her to get out of bed today but the Prozac she has just been prescribed has really helped her. She actually seemed pleased with herself. She then talked about this boy she had been dating. “I looked him up on IMDB. I’m such a stalker.” She seemed tired and hopeful. I liked her.
A woman is describing the neighborhood of Silverlake to her friend while sitting in a restaurant in Silverlake. “It’s not as gay as like WeHo but it’s Los Angeles so it’s pretty gay everywhere. Silverlake is more diverse and full of artists. Not as gay though.” I never heard her friend respond, which was weird, but she kept on reiterating how Silverlake was “gay but not too gay.” I didn’t like this woman.
A drunk British woman told me that she loved my aura at the Chateau Marmont. I was at the hotel in a professional context so I was initially embarrassed by the interruption. However, the more she tried to grill me for information about myself, the more I felt at ease with the situation. I had to tell myself that this was the reason you go to the Chateau Marmont: to get accosted by aging foreigners with fake breasts who congratulate you on being so real, so salt of the earth. I liked this woman but maybe not for the same reasons she liked me.
An aging queen talked with his friend about recently moving to L.A. from San Francisco to get his spec script off the ground. That was fine, I loved that for him, but things got really weird when he decided to blast gay porn in the coffee shop at maximum volume. I stopped liking him then.
So many bits and pieces of conversations about pilots or deals or Paramount studios being a dick or whatever. These conversations follow a script of their own and are usually really boring unless they’re openly talking shit on a celebrity. I hate all of these people.
An older gay man getting his haircut in the outdoor patio of a very bourgie salon in Beverly Hills. He gossiped to his hairdresser mostly about money problems and going bald. I didn’t like or dislike this man. He just made me sad.
An eight-year-old boy at Cross Creek in Malibu complaining about his weight to his mother. “I’m 102 but I would like to be 90 again.” This was not a joke. This was so real that it almost made me throw up all over Planet Blue. I liked the boy and I hated his mother. Who do you think is planting these ideas in his head?
These conversations all feed into this stereotype of L.A. being a city full of phonies who are obsessed with the entertainment industry. They’re not a fair representation—L.A. is so much more than that—but I realized while on the plane back home to New York that I perhaps consciously seek out that cliched Los Angeles experience. I don’t want to know about the nuances of the city. I want the super sized version of the city. I want sad delusional people talking about a bigshot movie producer over some iced teas. You can’t really get that anywhere else and since I’m a visitor rather than an actual resident of the city, I guess I’m more interested in just hearing the most quintessential L..A. conversations, stuff you wouldn’t be caught dead talking about anywhere else. This may be why people hate L.A. but it’s why I love it. It’s why I’m missing it so much already while I’m flying over Iowa and dreaming about sprawling backyards, Arnold Palmer’s, and a nice California salad. I want to go back. I’m not finished overhearing things.