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Quakes, smog, riots, traffic, carjackings, the recession, troubled schools, beautiful--but shallow--people . . . These days, everybody loves to bash our city. So we asked a few Angelenos (the famous and the not): If things are so bad . . . : Why Stay in L.A.?

April 04, 1993|Margo Kaufman

It was love at first sight. I boarded a plane in Chicago. The wind-chill factor was 14 below and snow was falling--again!

Four hours later, I disembarked in Los Angeles and was greeted by sunny skies, balmy breezes and palm trees. I never looked at another city twice. (I briefly flirted with Miami, but the humidity does horrible things to my hair.)

My family in Baltimore prayed that the relationship wouldn't last, but 17 years later, I'm still smitten. It's a little embarrassing--like trying to justify running off with a Hells Angel. Friends who have fled to Seattle warn me that "La-La Land" is a polluted cereal bowl filled with superficial nuts and flakes.

Granted, it's probably the only town on the planet where it takes a minimum of six cancellations and postponements to arrange a dinner date with your best friend. But at least folks aren't weighted down by a heavy sense of obligation. And as far as the nuts go, it's easy to spot them. They're wearing Rollerblades and seaweed, as opposed to the ones on the East Coast who are hiding behind three-piece suits.

Los Angeles has two qualities I value in a love object--good looks and a sense of humor. I probably wouldn't feel this way if I lived near the intersection of Van Nuys and Saticoy, but I'm fortunate enough to live in Venice. It seems miraculous that I can walk my pugs along the beach every morning. Should I prefer to take them hiking, mountains are 15 minutes away.

Besides, the city is always good for a laugh. Our most popular attractions--Disneyland, Universal Studios and the Venice Boardwalk--are inherently ridiculous, and the holiday celebrated with the most fervor is Oscar night. There's no such thing as excess.

I'm also enchanted by the fact that L.A. is exotic, that I can order takeout from a different country every night.

I enjoy the easy access to the arts. Professionally, I'm beguiled by the sense that anything is possible (a hit script being the modern-day version of striking gold). Sure, like most big cities, L.A. has faults: earthquakes, landslides, floods, civil disorders. But at least it's never dull.

And whatever the dangers, you can't beat the weather. I've never gotten tired of having spring fever in December. Call me superficial.

Love affairs have been based on a lot less.

Margo Kaufman is the author of "1-800-AM-I-NUTS?," published by Random House.

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