In college I had a friend who used to say "I love sitting in the cafeteria, drinking coffee, pretending I'm in New York, and I love sitting in New York, drinking coffee, pretending I'm in Paris." My weekly ritual involves going to Porto's in the morning, drinking coffee and pretending I'm in Argentina - Porto's has a stronger latin vibe.
There's no denying that there's this mystique about Paris, a hold-over from a Hemingway era - that was where you went to become an artist - to really break free and become something new. Even now, I wonder if I should be living somewhere else - what if I moved to San Francisco (as close to Paris as Cali gets)? Would life be better? Would my art career suddenly take wings? Would I break free from my pre-conceptions and become the totally new 2.0 version of me?
Is there something wrong with pretending I'm somewhere else? I do it most of the time, because let's face it, Burbank isn't that exciting and for some reason L.A. lends itself to pretending to be somewhere else. The fact is I'm okay with living in L.A., but I don't really live in the "real" version of it. I'm always hunting for some romantic idealized "noir" past and I know I'm not alone. There's the Blade Runner version of a melting pot distopia, the Heat version of late night isolation and, my favorite, the Double Indemnity version of the valley with its hills, palms and Spanish Revival architecture.
Does it matter where you live? My step-daughter moved to New York after graduation and it's truly the right place for her - she lives a lovely hipster life in Brooklyn and you can feel the energy she gets from her surroundings. But what about the rest of us that can't pull up stakes and move - how do we work our lives so that our environment feeds us?
The french have a term terrior, which means "from the land." It's used to describe how a specific location can impart a characteristic to wine. It's a fairly ancient belief, that location, climate, and soil leave an imprint. So where we live really does make a difference - and maybe it's important to feel more grounded and think about how where you live leaves its mark on you. I'm still very moved by that older version of L.A. and that's what get's me up and out each week shooting and finding new ways to tell its stories.
On the other hand, I'm still going to Porto's and imagine the broad boulevards of Buenos Aries are outside filled with beautiful, cosmopolitan Argentinians.