Um, Like, the Valley

In Sex and the City, when Carrie Bradshaw says she read “Brooklyn is the new Manhattan,” Miranda retorted, “Whoever wrote that lives in Brooklyn.”

If I lived within the 323 or 310 area code, my defense of the 818 would have more credibility. But since I'm an East Coast native, I'm hoping my two cents will be considered nonpartisan. Prior to my move to Los Angeles, there were mixed messages regarding the San Fernando Valley. On the one hand, strangers within earshot chuckled at Richard E. Grant’s character in L.A. Story after overhearing him say he lived in the valley. At the same time, the 80’s classic film Valley Girl gave us the idea it was a green oasis, jelly bracelet heaven. Privileged teens would throw decadent house parties, go on shopping sprees at giant pastel malls and lounge poolside. After all, I was a child of the 80’s, picking up the hot valley girl verbiage. “Totally tubular” and “Like, gag me!” were classic American phrases coined here, and were so popular, I had collected stickers with these phrases.

So which was it? After moving here, my peers immediately got to work to ensure the 818 stigma was firmly cemented in my psyche. I took up residence in the 323, where I thrived for years. But then an opportunity came that I couldn’t turn down. A writer friend was moving to New York and wanted to know if I’d like to move into his house. HOUSE – not apartment. A beautiful cabin just off Laurel Canyon with an expansive yard. It was the Garden of Eden with a fig tree, lemon tree, apple tree, roses, jasmine, etc. The only catch? It was in Studio City.

I took it, I love it and I realized I didn’t need to be in the middle of everything to feel I was a part of it. In fact, I can’t even enjoy the feeling of escape with paparazzi camping out at the local CVS to catch a glimpse of Britney Spears, or William Shatner’s Dobermans going ballistic on me when I take my dog for a walk. So what exactly is the “middle of everything”? An apartment across from Koi, where we may catch a glimpse of Cameron Diaz awaiting the valet to pull up in her famed Prius?

I love the bistros and boutiques lining Ventura Boulevard, I love the leafy adjoining neighborhoods and I don’t feel the need to convince anyone that Studio City is the new…the new…what even? Beverly Hills is considered more of a geriatric respite than the sheen of Aaron Spellings’ 90210, and while Silverlake is hipster heaven, it’s still segregated and dangerous at night.

I lived in Hollywood, and hookers would pass out on my side porch. I lived in West Hollywood and someone stole my bike and robbed our neighbors on the first floor. And while I’ll readily admit that parts of the valley are ugly, can it be any worse than certain ragged stretches of Pico Boulevard that lead to our beloved Pacific Ocean?


Crazy Dog Park People

Some people have the luxury of slipping in and out of dog parks anonymously, having experienced the sole pleasure of watching their dog kick it National Geographic style.

Some people aren't afforded that luxury, say owners of Great Danes and St. Bernards, whom always draw curious onlookers with questions. Not only do I own a brindle (tiger-striped) ex-racing greyound complete with tattoos in her ears, she makes a dash for every human she sees and leans her weight on them, ingratiating herself. Then follows the polite nods, the questions about her shady past and so forth.

I'm not complaining, but need to point out that these social formalities would be much more pleasurable were mental illness less prevalent at dog parks. What is going on with these people? There's the famous Mulholland Dog Park woman who stretches across the picnic tables languidly, drawing slowly on her cigarette and trawling for men amidst a sea of dog poop. Her set-up is nearly flawless, say for the Clorox wipes at her side. Anti-bacterial wipes are one thing, but bleach?

I visited the football field-sized dog park in Encino, as it was rated "Best Of" in Los Angeles. I'm a sucker for any "Best Of" - at least once. Well, the park is divided into two, one gated area is labeled "Timid," the other, "Macho." I thought the "Macho" title was cool; I like picking up on insider lingo, much like people do when ordering off the secret menu at In-N-Out. During my first visit, I asked a seemingly normal woman if this were the "Macho" field, and she scoffed defensively, "Well my dog is not macho." Reader, beware of any person who always emphasizes the "my" in "my dog." I let her know that it was insider lingo and she scoffed uncomfortably, clutching her canine and arguing, "Well, me and my dog have been coming here every day for years and I've never heard anyone call it macho." Laughing, I told her it was just a figure of speech, and she stormed off. Was she mad at me? I wondered if she never heard "macho" because no one had ever spoken to her. Naturally, I kept a curious eye on her and noticed she conversed with no one and stood with pursed lips, following her dog's every move.

The "my dog" people can never admit that their dog has faults or that there is something manic in their believing they can convince the world their pet is perfect. Every single dog in this world can be duped into doing something hilarious at our expense, where we can rightfully shake our heads and say, "stupid animal."

The last time I visited the Encino Dog Park, I saw a girl with buff, Madonna-like arms.
"Do you do yoga?" I asked.
"I used to."
"What do you do now, lift cars?"
"No, I box. I pound the sh*$! out of boxing bags because I have a lot of rage inside of me."

I take two steps back and ask, "What happens when you're not angry anymore?""Oh, I will ALWAYS be angry! As long as animals are being killed and tortured so we can wear FURS and eat BURGERS I will continue to-"

This went on for a while. I think I started to tune out when she was screaming about the Olympics being held in a communist country, but that's only because I saw her arm veins bulging and could not stop staring. Of course, my dog rubbed against her adoringly the entire time. Stupid animal.

I don't know if it's the methane from dog poop that is turning these people into serious contenders for reality T.V., but we should experiment. I say everyone should do their duty and start picking up the poop, just in case.


The Soup

You can always tell how successful a show is by it's audience members. Not the national sitcoms filled by tourists, but the smaller, invite-only shows. Take for instance The Soup on E! A couple of years ago, a quick phone call could slip you into a Thursday night taping. A few rows of metal chairs would await you and you sat back with shaggy-haired basement dwellers in flip flops and shorts. Inside jokes abounded and everyone sat back for a quick, hilarious taping.

A few months ago, a friend and I tried to snag seats for a show only to be told it was booked for a month in advance. An entire month? What had happened? Did everyone suddenly catch on to the wonder that is Joel McHale? Shame on them for taking so long. I don't even watch television and I acknowledged long ago that he is a near perfect human.

And then the day of the show arrived. As usual, I showed up in flip flops (I walk there) and a ponytail only to be dwarfed by girls in pumps and bubble dresses. They eyed one another tensely and swooped the hair off their shoulders in dramatic flips. In the bathroom as I washed my hands, I could hear the clicking heels of an approaching girl. I smiled and said "Hi" to her through the mirror as soon as we made eye contact. She nervously turned her head and pretended it didn't happen as if I were the poster child for the Ebola virus. Was that necessary? Perhaps she couldn't see me through the inch-thick pancake make-up that must have been labeled "Orange Peel" in the department store, but I'm pretty sure she saw me.

When we were let in to the studio, there were twice as many rows of metal chairs; the first two being roped off with "Reserved" signs. The E! lawyer always sits in the front row to ensure nothing is said that could be held against them, but now he was flanked by Joel's buff stylist, sitting anxiously to ensure Joel's tie doesn't twist. High school girls made seductive faces into their compact mirrors, out-of-towners sat excitedly and breasts were pushed high to the collarbones.

The shaggy-haired basement dwellers were disappearing, the easy production-type guys who all seem to smoke a joint before entering were gone and I wondered, is this the sign of success? Joel was charming, the footage and writing hilarious and I still had a good time. I applaud The Soup for their growing success, but how can a show that laughs at vapid people who take themselves too seriously suddenly appeal to vapid people who themselves take themselves too seriously? Oh the irony.


L.A. Story

It's easy to fall into the trap of berating Los Angeles, especially as an East Coaster. We tend to band together at parties and bars, declaring our intellectual superiority and point out all things laughable. And it's not like this town makes us hard up for material. Orange-hued girls in sequined mini dresses and plastic grapefruit-shaped breasts sit vacantly beside married men in power. Diners spend obscene amounts of money on raw food, because it's de rigueur and they saw the chef on The Food Network. They pay no mind to the fact that 3 oz. of what is essentially julienne vegetables cost as much as a car payment.

At the same time, there is much to love about this place. And there's something to be said about that simple quote, "If you don't like it, leave." Sure, people in the entertainment industry will give the standard defense, "I have to be here," to which there is the standard retort, "There's always New York." There are some instances where New York is not an option, say for writers of a television show that shoots in Los Angeles. In that case, we must remind them once again that leaving is still an option.

Not that this blog will be solely dedicated to praising Los Angeles. I feel almost morally obligated to call things out that strike me as shady. But that doesn't mean I can't acknowledge the perfect weather, deep green canyons and Mexican food that gets your tongue wagging.

These mixed feelings conjure up memories from the amazing film L.A. Story, when Sara (played by Victoria Tennant) says, "Roland thinks L.A. is a place for the brain-dead. He says, if you turned off the sprinklers, it would turn into a desert. But I think - I don't know, it's not what I expected. It's a place where they've taken a desert and turned it into their dreams."

And who can argue that?


And People Care About This Because?..

So here I am. I'm ignoring the pesky voice in my head, taunting, "And people care about this because?..." I fill out my profile and the voice gets louder, "No one caaaaares.." I save changes and it jabs me with a final, "Who do you think you are?"

Well that one I can answer. I'm Fayeruz Regan and I'm a writer. I get published here and there, but now that I want to get my manuscript published, I must scoot out of the corners of coffee shops and learn the business. Get my name out there and market. I'm here to meet new people, read posts from other literati and make a blog worth reading.

Traumatized by the sight of blogs where young wives write epics on their husband's ability to install windows or self-aggrandizing teens who call themselves "princessses" and complain, complain, complain - I wish to ensure I will forever keep myself in check. And if I don't, I'm sure someone will let me know.