The L.A. Report – Part 23



Hey Everybody,


My last report was in February so I’m about due for a new one.


In my last report, I told you about my project to digitize my analog media, but I was so intent on telling you all the technical details that I forgot to say why I even wrote about it in the first place, which was to tell you the feelings and emotions I had in the process.


When I digitized my vinyl records and cassettes, I hadn’t listened to most of them in 20, 25, 30 or even 35 years!  Of course I had heard a few songs over the years on the radio or other public places but the vast majority were not super-mainstream (Uriah Heep, Asia, Starcastle, etc.), at least since the 70’s.  I found that most of the songs I knew like the back of my hand – every nuance, every guitar lick, some unique bass riffs, Dave Byron’s slow vibrato, the string noise on Baby I’m a Want You, etc.  Other songs sounded totally foreign, like I was hearing them for the first time!  And a few of the songs I thought I loved, I’m like, really?  But not many.  Most of them magically transported me back in time, and I lip-synced most of the lyrics by heart, especially the ones I had performed in Sleeth, my high school rock band.


It was also interesting to note that most of the companies that produced them are now just a stone’s throw away – Capitol Records, A & M Records, Warner Brothers, etc.  As a teenager in Wisconsin, Los Angeles and Hollywood seemed so far away they might as well have been in a foreign country.  Now they’re in my back yard! 


Some of the cassettes I transferred were my voice lessons from the 1980’s.  One of them was the last voice lesson I had in 1989 where I really realized (with the help of my teacher) that my voice is just not the right kind of voice to do the heavy operatic stuff I wanted to do.  Kinda bittersweet.  Actually, a little depressing!


After another six-month involuntary hiatus from programming, in August I got a 4- to 6-month contract at a small company in Covina, 40 miles from home.  It’s near Monterey Park, where my last contract was (28 miles from home) – but the route is just different enough that it takes about the same time as the commute to Monterey Park took – about an hour in the morning and 70 – 75 minutes home.  On my drive to Monterey Park there were two or three points I could get up to 80 mph, but only for a few seconds.  In my new commute, the majority of it is 80 mph!  Thank goodness it’s a reverse commute like Monterey Park was; the cars coming towards me definitely aren’t going 80 – maybe 18!


The company has a very specific niche market and two distinct services – paying property taxes for lenders who escrow homeowners’ property taxes as part of their mortgage payment – and flood plain determination services.  I don’t know for sure how much longer I’ll be needed there but they have indicated they would like me to stay at least into the new year, which is fine with me because, even though their technical environment is a little antiquated and small, I like my boss and coworkers (always 90% of the battle).  Plus, the mainframe job market is still very dead, at least in L.A., despite mainframes still doing the lion’s share of computing at most large companies.


You’ve probably heard about California’s drought.  Los Angeles is not in terrible shape but other parts of the state, particularly the central and northern parts, are really suffering.  Many farmers don’t have enough water to irrigate their crops, the water level in many lakes is down 70 or 80 percent and some underground aquifers are completely or nearly dry.  Even though Los Angeles isn’t as bad as many other parts of the state, we’re all cutting back so that we don’t draw as much water from the areas that are in trouble.  The Department of Water and Power asked everybody to conserve water, even paying homeowners to rip out their lawns – although then they had the balls to raise customers’ rates because they aren’t making as much money!  About half of the lawns you see are brown; it’s even become sortof in vogue.  Los Angeles has cut its water use by more than the governor’s 25% mandate, although there are some exceptions – one home in Bel-Air uses 12 million gallons a year and has a water bill of $90,000 a month!  Officials are mulling over some kind of penalty, possibly even shutting off their water completely.  Several L.A. county officials got in trouble for washing their county cars too often; one guy was even washing his car three times a week!  My favorite museum, The Getty, has turned off all of their fountains, although I suspect it’s more symbolic than substantive; I’m sure it’s recirculated water so the only loss would be a tiny amount of evaporation.


But relief may be in site.  We’re now experiencing an El Niño weather pattern – very elevated ocean temperatures – that usually bring tons of rain.  It hasn’t yet (it’s likely to start in January) but it has brought unusual marine life up here.  Hammerhead sharks and lots of stingrays have been seen.  The ocean temperatures are higher than the El Niño of 1997, which brought torrential rains and flooding.  Then again, some El Niño predictions in the past have been wrong.


The drought has fueled lots of wildfires – again, mostly in the Central and Northern parts of the state.  But even Oregon and Washington have had lots of them.     


Rents and home prices have pretty much rebounded to their Pre-Great-Recession levels.  In fact, I just heard that the median price for a home on the west side of L.A. is now one million dollars.  Gonna take a lot of background acting gigs to be able to afford that!  L


Speaking of acting, I haven’t done anything since 2012 but you can still see me in reruns.  I was very visible on Hot in Cleveland – Season Three, Episode 15 (“Rubber Ball”) and Harry’s Law – Season Two, Episode 20 (“Class War”) (both from 2012).  After this current programming contract ends, I may get back into it.


On Wednesday, I’m flying to Madison for Thanksgiving, our most frequent meeting place.  It’s always great to see my siblings and their offspring, even more precious now that mom, dad, aunts and uncles have all passed away.


Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!