Another year, another LA Times Festival of Books. I saw a lot of people and got to talk to almost no one for any length of time, and I spent all day Saturday and Sunday with my head bent over a credit card machine and a calculator in The Mystery Bookstore's booth. (I'm sorry, I no longer have any upper peripheral vision; if my head is even slightly down, it is impossible to catch my eye. I don't see anything I'm not looking at.)
But it was a darn good time, and I earned more than I spent, and did get to spend a little time in direct sunlight, which I don't always see in northern New England. Tonight I fly back on a series of flights so ridiculous I can't imagine why I thought they were a good idea; I leave LA at 11:15, and get to Portland around 12:15 tomorrow afternoon. Lucky for me I sleep on planes.
The combination of sleep deprivation and sun poisoning makes my brain fuzzy, though, so in lieu of something more thoughtful, here's a list of five more songs about Los Angeles (a sequel to this list).
1. "Desperadoes Under the Eaves," Warren Zevon. "And if California slides into the ocean/As the mystics and statistics say it will/I predict this motel will be standing/Until I pay my bill." Actually, this song reminds me that I never had a margarita while I was here. I wonder . . . it's past 5:30 on the East Coast . . .
2. "Under the Bridge," Red Hot Chili Peppers. A love song to the city, "my only friend" — "At least I have her love/The city she loves me/Lonely as I am/Together we cry."
3. "A Long December," Counting Crows. A few years ago I spent New Year's Day taking a long walk through Santa Monica with my best friend and our dogs, and could not get this song out of my head. I did see the ocean briefly last night, from that friend's deck.
4. "My Old School," Steely Dan. Steely Dan, I understand, can be a polarizing band. I love them. You should love them too. This is a song about California as the place we all run away to. "California/Tumbles into the sea/That'll be the day I go back to Annandale."
5. "Exquisitely Bored," Pete Townshend. A minor track off what I consider Pete Townshend's masterpiece, All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes. It's true, the Los Angeles brand of boredom is unique and hard to describe. One night before I moved back east I had drinks in the Buddha Bar in Thousand Oaks, and the similarities among the other women's faces freaked my friends and me out; they all had the same noses, the same eyelids stretched tight, the same shade of artificial tan. It might have been Stepford.