Reasons To Be Cheerful in L.A.

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I think they’re saving the middle chair for me…

Out of all the friends I’ve made in California, I have known M. the longest. Ten or so years ago, we met at a writers’ conference at PCC and we’ve  been simpatico ever since.

Anyway, M. has taken issue with my recent bout of disdain for L.A. Rightfully so, I suppose, because, as she put it: Some of us choose to live here!

So, to honor our friendship, I have drafted the following list.

The Top Ten Reasons Why I Like Los Angeles

No. 10:    The House of Fourteen-or-so Davids and One Venus

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It wasn’t until I was about to take this photo that I noticed, for the very first time, the solitary Venus standing next to the front door. What can it mean?

No.  9:   The Chabad Telethon

During Labor Day Weekend on the east coast, it was all about Jerry’s Kids. But, here in L.A., it’s the Chabad. The convivial rabbis do good work, are joyful, raise lots of money and, each time another ka-ching drives up their total, they break into dance.

No.  8:    The Collection of Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum

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Oh, that Cambodian art…

No.  7:    An Evening at the Hollywood Bowl

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Arrive early, spread a blanket on the grass (or snag a picnic table, if you’re a worm-catching early bird), bask in the balmy night air, share pot luck munchies and a nice wine with good friends — and, as we did this past Saturday night — walk to your seats around 8:00 p.m. to enjoy, under the stars, the tremendously talented Diana Krall.

No.  6: Box City

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I’ve been spending quality time here lately (guess why). Some people get their jollies at the “Container Store.” But, not me. I’m into cardboard. I love the feel of it, the smell, and the fact that it’s sold flat and you get to origami it at home. Any size you need, they’ve got it. As the little cartoon to the right of their front door says: Boxes are fun!

No.  5: The Sixth Street Viaduct

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Photo: http://laconservancy.org/index.php4

A wrong turn while driving through a sketchier part of downtown, when still a newcomer to Los Angeles, had landed my Saturn and me on the expanse of the Sixth Street Viaduct, the gateway to Boyle Heights. Its bleached concrete, elegant architecture, and fluid monumentality delivered an unexpected thrill — momentarily displacing the morbid fear I’d harbored in those early days of falling victim to a “drive-by” shooting. But I’m sorry to report that the future of the bridge is in peril. The concrete is crumbling and there’s a 70% risk of it collapsing during the next earthquake. Unless there’s a quake in September (cross yourself three times), I won’t be around to see it.

No.  4: The Arclight Movie Theater

So many wonderful hours I’ve spent inside this theater watching first-run films and AFI revivals. This past year, I’ve seen The Godfather and Godfather II, on a back-to-back Saturday and Sunday. What utter bliss for a movie lover like myself. Recently, All About Eve, with the inimitable Bette Davis, lit up my  night. Not long after that, it was Easy Rider. This Monday night, a new print of Rosemary’s Baby is on the docket. I can hardly wait.

No.  3: Paru’s Indian Vegetarian Restaurant

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One thing about Los Angeles, it’s vegetarian-friendly. My favorite restaurant for eating those veggies is Paru’s. Situated on an ugly stretch of Sunset Blvd. (far, far away, at least, in the imagination, from the fabled “Sunset Strip”), once you open their front door — they will buzz you in — you’ll enter into a welcoming sanctuary of savory aromas; rainbow of indigenous decor; elegant, attentive service; extraordinary food; and the lulling music of India. It’s also fun to eavesdrop on the bizarrely entertaining conversations going on at nearby tables.

No.  2: Twelve-Vegetable Soup at The Good Earth Restaurant

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The other day, not that I wanted to prove them wrong, I counted the vegetables in my bowl of soup. Yes, there were twelve: cauliflower, broccoli, corn, okra, potatoes, green peppers, celery, cabbage, zucchini, Swiss chard, peas and carrots.

In less than a month’s time, I will never have this soup again (sigh) — that is, unless during our cross-country drive to New York, we were to pass through Minnesota (that’s not likely). Two Good Earth Restaurant cousins, I have discovered, are located in “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” (although they do offer the vegetarian “planet burger,” the 12-veggie soup is not on their menu, nor is their signature cinnamon iced tea). I ask you, Minnesota, what is the point? The most I can do is chant good thoughts for a Good Earth Restaurant to set up shop in New York — or move back to L.A.. But, that’s not going to happen…

No.  1: The Friends I Have Made (and their respective pets, which include several darling Golden Retrievers, many cats, a ferret, and whippet — sorry if I’ve left some critter out…)

I Will Miss You!

I’d like to send out an honorable mention to the L.A. Arboretum and the Descanso Gardens. Tiptoeing through the tulips has saved my sanity on oh so many occasions.

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