Thursday, May 6, 2010

All smiles in LA

Every city has it's own mojo, right? It's own local groove driven by the residents, not by the structures, the politics, or certainly the tourist attractions. It effects every human experience from the daily coffee service to lifetimes of love and sorrow. It's why some cities make an instant home and why most simply never fit, like well loved hand-me-downs you can't stand to wear.

I think of this mojo like a pop-up bubble question constantly on the mind of the localirati.

"Are you authentic?" they ask in Paris, to themselves and beneath every interaction.

"Do you win?" New Yorkers want to know, "or can I beat you if and when it comes to that."

"Do you understand?" in Princeton or Boston, and "Are you listening?" to New Orleans' heartbeat. Even small towns have their mojo, built up from the hours of their work, the dedication of their faith, or even their single shared desire to be left the hell alone.

So of course Los Angeles has it's own flavor. Not the glitzy quest of, "what's your dream?" the tourists think they see here, but something simpler and more fierce for it.

"Are you happy?"

What else could you expect from the city that spends 320 days in the sun. And for so many, the happiness soaks in like a perfect golden tan. The pleasure warms us, light action thrills us, and the smiles bounce from sunny head to head. Traffic? Oh, sure. Earthquakes? Yeah, they're around here somewhere. But I can't stop smiling when it's 72 again.

Happiness is a wonderful drug. Addictive. And most So Calers don't live here by any small accident. We sought out this happiness from cities with the wrong mojo for us all around the country and the world. An enclave of the joyful. New Yorkers want to win the World Series? Sure thing. We'll be at the beach while it's playing.

If there is anything we're truly competitive about, it's being happy. We don't really care who has which car, wife, or part in the next action picture. We care how happy that makes us. And if it's not happy enough, we... well, we're even more unhappy about that.

So it's a wicked mirror when it goes wrong. And since we are so obsessed with happiness, the darkside of the funhouse is a truly bipolar nut. Why fall so far? Because if you're not happy here, let's face it, you won't be happy anywhere. You can't bitch about Eden. There is no where left to longingly dream for, and we know it. And so does a rich little community of shrinks.

So call us shallow, materialistic, dramatic or whimsical. Make fun of our relativism and overly optimistic views. Blame us for the world's age obsession, weight obsession, and the advent of Paris Hilton (no seriously, we're sorry about that). But don't blame us for being happy, dangerously and obsessively happy.

If you lived here, you'd probably feel the same.

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