I have a love-hate relationship with Los Angeles, my adopted city of residence. I moved here 11 years ago filled with dreams, ambitions and aspirations. Those dreams haven't faded, but are now surrounded by a thick juicy sauce of jaded bitterness.
I moved here three years after the Rodney King verdict incited riots and flames and martial law. I moved here 16 months after the Northridge earthquake. I moved here less than a year after O.J. tried to run for the border.
I'd like to say that I arrived after the fires, but those occur yearly. Los Angeles burns and hardly anyone pays attention.
I was here when I nearly sold my first screenplay. Again and again and again.
I was here when, in a scene reminiscent of the film Heat, two armed gunmen shot up North Hollywood. I watched live coverage as masked, armored bank robbers fired fully automatic AKs at police, civilians and news choppers.
I was here when I decided to leave. Supposedly, the first year in Los Angeles is the most difficult, but for me it was the second year. I was never more at peace than when I decided to leave town. I knew I would eventually return, but I had to get out before it broke me. I thought I would travel, maybe take six months or a year away from the madness. I read Kerouac's On the Road in anticipation of my upcoming road trip.
I was here when I decided to stay. The proverbial carrot was once again dangled before me. A writing assignment came my way just when I needed it.
I was here when (insert celebrity name) got away with (insert heinous crime).
I was here for El Nino. The hills that were once on fire now became mudslides and sinkholes.
I was here when Hal Gefsky, a retired agent, invited me to a monthly lunch at the Fairfax Farmer's Market so I could hear a group of fascinating octogenarians congregate to share fascinating behind-the-scenes stories of Hollywood.
I was here when I tried to film a documentary about them.
I was here when I failed to finish the film.
I was here when Ovidio Assonitis, a crazed film producer, flew me halfway around the world so I could visit Sri Lanka and meet Bandula Jayasekera, the man who offered me this column.
I was here when I met artist Rob Steen and we began collaborating on projects.
I was here five years later when Rob and I finally sold our first graphic novel, Afterlife.
I was here a few weeks ago when a car chase ended down my street with a stolen vehicle overturned and smashed, debris littering the intersection. No one was seriously injured.
I was here several years ago when a different car chase ended in a man's suicide three blocks away. Los Angeles loves car chases.
I was here when the Democratic Convention came to town and police sprayed protestors with rubber bullets.
I was here when I learned about a group of crazy cyclists called the Midnight Ridazz who take over the streets of Los Angeles for no other reason than to have fun.
I was here when I decided to jump out of a plane from 13,000 feet in the air.
I was here when I fell in love. Twice.
I was here when I started to hate writing.
I was here when I remembered why I loved writing in the first place.
I was here when I realized I wouldn't ever stop.
I was here when I finally sold my first script. Co-written with Nick Angelo, it's on DVD somewhere, but so far the producers haven't bothered to give us a copy. Why should they? We only wrote the bloody thing.
I don't know how much longer I will remain here, though I certainly don't want to live the remainder of my life in Los Angeles. That would be tragic. But for now, I've made my peace. For now…
I am here.