I am looking for success so of course, I live in Los Angeles. If the fine line between insanity and genius is success, the question that begs to be asked is; “Success as defined by whom, and who says it is in LA?” The LA mindset is focused on a type of “success” that may not be defined the same way in say, Kalamazoo, Michigan or Biloxi, Mississippi. LA is obsessed with questions such as; “Does Brittany have genius machinery keeping her in the public eye on a constant daily basis doing things such as being mobbed buying gum and losing custody of her children, or is she just crazy?” We realize of course that both may be true at the same time and for some reason it works here. If there is no such thing as bad publicity we may actually be watching the successful total breakdown of a human being. Genius or insanity? And what I mean by that is, that we are even watching, but again it’s what we do here. I hate it.
The Sopranos ended and Los Angeles spent four weeks fixated on every theory possible for proof that Tony was either shot, or not. Something tells me that they weren’t doing that in Hoboken, probably because they find fascination over a fictional mobster who was played by a man who made millions of dollars acting as a character with a future that we will actually never know, may be a bit insane. But the Christmas boxed collection of the series sold for hundreds of dollars when the controversy finally bottomed out on page two. So who’s insane and who is the genius and is there really any success here to be found here?
Where else except in LA and the surrounding area can you find more successful, beautifully famous people (at least for fifteen minutes), that spend more time and large sums of money on self improvement from primal screaming, tribal dance and having their aura cleansed under full moon charged crystals, in order to find happiness, which a 56 year old housewife in Cleveland decided long ago, is unobtainable. Who’s the genius? Who is successful? More importantly are we ALL insane? I live here so I have the right to state that the answer unequivocally “yes”. LA sports it’s own tinsel town version of insanity. Everything I hate here is present while negotiating a successful LA venture. Everyone has a publicist, manager, agent, headshots, a life coach, trainer and their own brand of “game”. Compassion for AIDS orphans in Africa is a publicity tool and we all know the paparazzi are coveted and prayed for, despite those who protest otherwise. Insanity, genius and success aside, when did LA sell it’s soul, and to who?
These are the insane things that happen in my hometown that embarrass me to the point of pretending that there is a difference in the Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Santa Monica, etc. but it’s all the same and we know it. Still, I return from exotic and amazing locations to call the city of Angels, my home. There is a reason why little girls across America don’t dream of growing up and moving to Iowa. They come to LA chasing that dream and there is as much success as there are little girls. Once they turn 18 (on fake I.D.) and get here it’s all about finding a job and place to stay, (often on someone’s couch until they “make it”). Both young women and young men arrive to discover a nightmare of sleazy agents, unpaid “auditions” that turn into porn, drug hook ups, and desperate acts to simply find a way to sleep and eat. Even those who succeed pay a price that hides under xanax, prozac, alcohol and in the very back room of trendy clubs where anything and anyone can be purchased and where damage is done that will never heal. And yes, there are some who reach that point of and believe that they have found success. Have they? And that is the fine line.
And then there are those who are successful geniuses and have landed in LA very purposely. We have the weather, the warm breezes, blue sky, the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway, mountains, sunshine, posh dining and hot nightspots which give us a bit of an edge and would seem to aid in the pursuit of success and happiness even if all you are doing is looking at it. There is something that catches your heart when you see blockbuster movies shot in locations that you pass every day on the way to work. Nothing can chase away the rejection of a day of auditions like a quiet drive up Mullholland Drive watching the mountains cast shadows of purple while random sheets of golden setting sunlight hit palm trees and ocean, and calm the soul. The sites still take our breath away no matter how long we are here. It is what I love here.
We know the rules of the city, or at least I think I do. The “working lunches” that usually mean too many drinks and too much sarcasm. Phone calls that aren’t returned for weeks and then the assistant sends a car to pick you up to sign high dollar deals while you drive around the block. One day the red rope can’t open fast enough for you with comped bottle service until dawn. The next day you barely rate a nod. You never know. Which is part of our schizophrenic charm. Hollywood has a walk of stars where you can’t help but imagine your name engraved on. Drives in neighborhoods where we pretend we will live someday, shopping on Rodeo and people watching and in LA the people you watch are beautiful. They may be insane, they could be genius and on some level they probably are successful. Interesting to watch. Fun to eavesdrop on, between bites in amazing restaurants because the food is fabulous here. Beautiful people who don’t eat can at least order and smell the finest cuisine imaginable. The nights are magical, the days exciting and you are a short drive from desert, ocean, mountains or Disneyland, all places where dreams really can come true.
I realize that I’m talking in circles, which seems entirely appropriate when discussing genius, insanity and success in LA. A lot of what I am saying is really about publicity and exposure and that certainly isn’t success but it can lead to it. So many people want to come here, and “make it”. I think that they mean, “find success”. I am simply wondering what it is and how you know when you have found it. Is it wealth? Is it “top billing”, the “A” list? If so, why do so many “stars” bottom out when they find it?
I once thought that being published would mean that I had arrived and I would be successful. I have been published and after the initial rush I might as well have flat lined. I once thought six or seven figures meant success, not realizing it really means more and higher bills. I also thought a beautiful girl on my arm and not standing in lines would make me successful when actually now that seems to fall in the insane category.
All in all the truth is that I love it here, when I clear my head and consider business, money, beauty, hot spots, photos in the paper and published work and as much as I love the elements here it isn’t always enough. My mind wanders back to a day years ago that I spent eating burgers and drinking chocolate milkshakes in Mumford, Kentucky in a place called “Ye Olde Malt Shopee” (and I’m not joking). I drove all the back roads in an old convertible with a fair skinned redhead who had eyes the color of a bright clear morning in August. How I felt that day was pretty close to as complete success as I have ever known. So maybe the fine line between genius and insanity is actually about love? I DO love LA and I will never know if not bringing her here with me was insanity, or genius. So here we are back to the illusive fine line. I think I’ll stay here, and keep looking.