I have arrived in L.A. just at the end of June gloom, as Southern Californians begin to revel in the sunny glory of their perfect state. I have yet to give out any gold stars. The first day in a new place is always an exploratory day, a day to determine the receptiveness with which the stars might be received. It turns out that L.A. is surprisingly receptive, judging by the friendliness I encountered from so many. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This is where stars are born, where they shine. But, often, they are hidden from plain sight, behind steering wheels and the security of private estates. It is harder here to get the attention that one gets just walking down the street in New York. That’s why I love the Grove.
The Grove is a mall, yes, but more than that it is one of L.A.’s few pedestrian playgrounds, complete with a dramatic fountain show, a mouth-watering Farmer’s Market with every kind of food imaginable and people, people who want to strut like peacocks. Cars, even monster SUV’s or convertibles, make strutting tough. There is even public transportation at the Grove, a trolley that takes people up and down the roughly five-block stretch of street in case one’s shoes aren’t made for walking, a common problem in car culture locales.
My friends’ house, located as they say in “Beverly Hills adjacent…”, has a beautiful landscaped courtyard complete with wicker couches, small apple trees and a fireplace to take the chill off cool evenings. Man, I’m envious. I love the indoor/outdoor living here, their bright orange-painted French doors open all the time to let the in out and vice versa. The kids sat at the long picnic table eating fresh Mediterranean fare and fresh-picked apples. They had woken up in their bunk beds in Brooklyn at 4 a.m. and by breakfast they were here. As Oscar, the little one, says often, including yesterday, “This is the best day of my life!” Eli, always curious about what’s famous, is in heaven here. I pointed out the Hollywood Hills, probably the most famous of any hills anywhere, and named names of office buildings we passed that all house movie moguls or modeling agencies whose sole mission is the making of fame. Fabulous. L.A., we love it.