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Home Truths About Life in Two Big Cities

June 03, 1990

I have lived several times in both New York and Los Angeles, and I don't recognize the L.A. Josh Getlin describes.

He speaks of cruising down the L.A. freeways with the radio blasting, and of a great Mexican restaurant only 30 miles away. Listen, Josh, you know darn well that these freeways have been un-cruisable for quite a few years now. The reality is that it now takes two hours to get to that Mexican restaurant, so we settle for the clown or the colonel.

The somewhat questionable virtue known as being laid back disappeared about 1980. Today, the meanness factor in business, in relationships and especially on our beloved freeways is easily comparable to New York's. I have seen more sheer barbarity on the freeways in the last two years than anything this side of 42nd Street's meat market. Man, this place hasn't been relaxed, and/or friendly in years.

Getlin says New Yorkers are suspicious of hedonism, suntans and the idea that you should enjoy your job. Hedonism? You mean that wonderful attitude that brought us AIDS, herpes, narcissistic personality disorder, dope and a level of warfare between the sexes unmatched in my lifetime? Great! And suntans, wow, skin cancer and leather-skinned aging Barbie dolls. Surf's up, dude. . . .

And everyone wants to enjoy their job, but of my friends here, only one out of 10 does, just about like New York.

You know something, Josh, when I was a kid here in Pomona in '63, we knew all our neighbors, crime was almost unheard of, the freeways really were wonderful, and strangers would help you if you were in trouble. It really was an alternative to New York's big mouth and bad attitude. But it ain't no more.

And just in case any New Yorkers are reading this, and chuckling, don't. . . . I remember fishing in Flushing Meadow Park. I remember riding the 10-cent subway to third grade, safely, by myself, every day. I remember friendly old men on the street corner, parks where kids could play, old Jewish guys in the pharmacy ready with a hundred stories and an egg cream for free. Now it's a social-Darwinist anthill, almost a third-world country, rife with corruption and ruled by slobs like Donald Trump and the millions who wish they were Trump.

I think both cities have lost almost all their remaining virtues.

DON CICCHETTI

Loma Linda

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