Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Los Angeles is often a punch line for jokes. Artificial... superficial... La La Land. And as I've watched many of my friends move to other parts of the country, I occasionally wonder why I stay here.

Of course there are the obvious reasons. Family. And my medical issues tie me to health institutions that offer the kind of options (hope) that few places in the country - indeed in the world - do. Limiting reasons.

But then there is the other side of Los Angeles. Cultural. Artsy. Affluent. A stew of different types of people.

A number of years ago, a friend from a smaller city in the the midwest and his family came out on vacation. We got together for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in Marina del Rey. After catching up on all the gossip, we turned to the subject of L.A. Why do I like to live here. What is the best thing about Los Angeles? What is the worst thing about Los Angeles?

It was easy to come up with the answers. The best thing? The diversity of people, activities, and options. Whatever you want to do, wherever you want to go, whatever culture you would like to experience from any part of the world is available here. Just jump into your car and drive and I can find pockets of people who's way of living is far different than my own. Who welcome me into their community and are willing to share their belif systems and culture with me.

The worst? The diversity of people. Los Angeles is running out of space, and when you have as many different kinds of people living in a restricted space as we do, it can foster suspicions and distrust. We can - at times - be a pressure cooker of experiences and without room to move away and consider the other's point of view, angry behavior born of lack of understanding can errupt.

But last night, I was lucky enough to experience the best side of Los Angeles. Each year on Christmas Eve, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors give the people of this city a "Christmas Gift." An experience of music and dance and song in the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion at the Los Angeles Music Center. All free of charge. Broadcast on Southern California PBS stations from start (3pm) to finish (9pm), anyone can attend... coming and going as their schedules and desires require.

Families, old couples, the young. The single people with noplace to go all converged at the Music Center for this year's 48th Annual LA Holiday Celebration.
It consists of a sampling of various performances from all the cultures that this city has to offer. Most acts lasting between 5 and 15 minutes. And it showcases one of the best things that LA has to offer. Incredible entertainment. Co-existance in peace and love.

With the Motion Picture studios located here, everyone seems to be an actor or a singer or dancer or musician. And all amazingly talented. Even pick-up groups have a professional air about them. And most of the acts that we saw last night were far more than casual.

What a nice evening. I so look forward to next year's event. Only 364 days to go.

Happy Holiday!

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