Larry Doyle

“Now that you have abandoned us AND BOUGHT REAL ESTATE on the mindless coast …”

–Typical e-mail from a New York friend

“Can you believe we live in L.A.?” Becky keeps asking. Not only do I believe it, I’ve barely noticed.

I was never really a New Yorker. Though I lived there seven years, I never contracted the L.A. animus so prevalent on the East Coast. And now that I’m out here, I don’t see it. I mean, yes, there is less theater here than in Manhattan, but the last time I checked, Beauty and the Beast, Victor/Victoria, and Sunset Boulevard were the big hits on Broadway. And there are just so many times you can look up Annie Sprinkle’s snatch and call it culture.

A couple of years ago on a Manhattan subway, an off-duty white cop shot an undercover black cop several times in the back, mistaking him for a criminal. Yesterday on Cahuenga Boulevard, an undercover white cop shot and killed an off-duty black cop in a traffic dispute.

That’s the difference between New York and L.A.

* * * * * *

Writing for a television show, at least this television show, is like being in a meeting all day, every day. You sit in a chair and listen to other people talk for hours at a time. It reminds me of school, only you don’t have to ask to go to the bathroom.

I go to the bathroom all the time.

The other day, a writer across the table from me began methodically crossing one finger over the other, until his hand was a neatly crossed stack. I watched him cross and uncross himself four or five times before I realized everybody in the room was laughing at a joke I had not even heard. A little later I noticed two other writers stacking their fingers.

Back in grade school, I used to watch the clock and see how long I could hold my breath. My record was one minute and 45 seconds. I can now clench my buttocks for up to 25 seconds at a time.

* * * * * *

Other important differences between New York and L.A.:

  • There are more and better bookstores in Los Angeles.
  • At the magazine stands in L.A., you can read an entire magazine in peace.
  • If you walk out into the street in Los Angeles, people will stop their cars rather than aim at you and speed up.
  • In L.A., they play “Low Rider” on the radio at least once a day.
  • At night in L.A., you can see the stars (in the sky).
  • I wore my shorts to work today.

* * * * * *

I stole one of the writers’ newspapers again today. When I worked at New York magazine, all of the papers and any magazine I wanted would simply appear on my desk every morning. Now I can’t bring myself to pay for a newspaper, and I can’t believe what they’re charging for magazines.

I also miss getting free books and CDs, even though I only seemed to get the crappy ones.

* * * * * *

I’ve read 10 novels since I’ve come to Los Angeles. That’s more than I read all of my last year in New York. Perhaps it’s because when I was in New York I spent my entire day reading and my entire night watching TV, and now I spend my night reading and my entire day being TV.

* * * * * *

More bad news from the gym: I’ve now gained nine pounds since arriving in Los Angeles, and am more out-of-shape than I ever was in New York. Some people would find this ironic. Alanis Morrisette certainly would.

Nine pounds in nine weeks. At this rate, by the year 2000, I will weigh 292 pounds, far above the recommended weight for my height and build.

I attribute the gain to several factors:

1) My ambient walking–while commuting, in the office, going to the store–has dropped from about a mile or two a day when I was in New York to approximately 200 feet.

2) The large cabinet at work filled with chocolate, candy, cookies, and snack chips; the refrigerator stocked with soda and ice cream; the large bag of fresh bagels every morning; and lunch. All free.

3) A stronger gravitational field in Los Angeles.

* * * * * *

Tomorrow we get the keys to the new house in the Hollywood Hills, and my third me begins.

First there was the ink-stained Chicagoan, who drank in bars below street level and moaned about lost love.

Second there was the Manhattan magazine editor, too cynical to be anything like lonely.

And now, the third me, the newly married Angelino with a backyard and a dog.

I tell myself this is the real me.