So big it’s claustrophobic

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, May 20, 2015 8:56 PM

I spoke with my friend Diane today. She and Gene are up in Oregon. It’s their third or fourth trip and they’re in the process of deciding whether or not to move. It’s a big decision, but one they seem on the verge of making and I couldn’t be happier for them.

We all moved to LA at around the same time, give or take a few years. Diane moved from Detroit. I believe Gene moved from Ohio. I moved from the North East, Kevin from Chicago, Bobbi from Wisconsin. Roy is the only native amongst us. One of the lasting jokes about Los Angeles is that everyone there is from somewhere else. I’m not sure that’s as true now as it used to be but I suspect it is.

Los Angeles has long held sway over young people, especially those in entertainment. Diane moved to be closer to the music industry and for a time, worked as a recording studio manager. Gene, a musician, moved to be in the music industry. Bobbi moved to work in the music industry as well. She had actually been accepted into USC as a music major but never went. Roy was already in the music industry. He worked as an artist for United Artists Records which eventually became Capitol Records when Capitol bought them. He designed album covers.

Bobbi worked for Diane. Then Diane moved onto someplace else and Bobbi got a job at Capitol where she met Roy.

I’m not sure how I expected to meet my fame and make my fortune. I had entertained being a screenwriter, and I actually had several things that were nearly optioned. But I soon gave that up and just decided to write for me, and for anyone who wanted – wants – to pay me.

Kevin’s background is sales and marketing but he decided to also go more toward the creative in 2000 when he quit his job and started his own web development, design, and marketing company.

LA was very good to us all. It gave us a shot at our creative careers. Perhaps even more importantly, it introduced us to some of the best people we know. I’ve been friends with Roy and Bobbi since 1989, with Diane since shortly thereafter and with Gene since shortly thereafter that. Kevin and I got together in 1995 but he also knew Roy and Bobbi from before. We’re all just one big happy coincidence.


The ranch where Diane and Gene are staying. Gene posted this yesterday.

We’ve all decided that LA is more for younger people. I don’t consider any of us old, but we’re long past our 20s and 30s, the time when traffic isn’t as bothersome, when the outrageousness of the city doesn’t irritate. When you get to the point where every time you go somewhere it’s a major ordeal because of traffic; when you have to check the traffic reports before you leave the house; when even after doing all of that, you’re still late because of traffic, it gets frustrating. As Roy always says, it takes the fun out of the balloon.

We stopped having fun in LA a long time ago. We rarely left our house in Oak Park because it was just too painful to go anywhere. Diane and Gene are in that place now, too, and like us, they can take their careers elsewhere. Plus, should they move to Oregon, it’s not that far from LA. It’s easy to get back when you need to.

We talked about it all today. She’s ready; Gene is a little more apprehensive. But their lives in LA are now nostalgic. Gene was the lead guitarist for Joe Cocker and toured the world for years. But Joe died just before Christmas last year and none of the other band mates live in LA either.

Los Angeles is wondrous, adventurous, full of possibility. It’s also claustrophobic because it’s so big. All of the concrete and traffic and buildings and people seeking their break close down around you. You don’t really realize it until you get out. We miss the ideal of it but no longer the idea of it. I suspect Diane and Gene may be doing the same in the not too distant future, and we wish them dogspeed on their way to living it out loud.

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live out loud

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