October 27, 1999
I recent read an article quoting the late Herb Caen, my favorite San Francisco columnist. When asked his opinion of Southland, he replied, "I'd like to get to know Los Angeles, but I never can find it."
Unlike Herb, after much serious thought and extensive investigation I think I have found it--but I can't hold on to it.
We live on Gardner between Fountain and Sunset. Our lease reads "Hollywood." However, I have found that just across the street from us the library and the fire station are in Los Angeles. (The Fire Department isn't sure about this side of the street. I was told to check with the fire station on Santa Monica in West Hollywood.)
The Rite Aid drugstore at Fairfax and Sunset is in Los Angeles, but a few blocks west, the Sunset Strip is in West Hollywood. Wolfgang Puck, however, thinks he's in Hollywood.
When I was considering entering a contest for photos of West Hollywood, I recall reading of a group called Project Angel Food in West Hollywood. Project Angel Food is on Sunset, just a block west of Gardner. I stopped by their office and inquired if they actually were in West Hollywood. I was assured they were. Not quite believing it, I checked with the police office next door. The first person to whom I spoke didn't know where he was. In the next office, two women didn't know either, but the switchboard operator popped up out of nowhere and told me we were in Los Angeles. The car agency next to the police office has a huge sign that reads "West Hollywood."
I asked the downstairs tenant. She said, "Well, we're probably in Los Angeles but Hollywood sounds so much better."
The following day we received two packets of address labels from two different charitable organizations. One said "Los Angeles," the other "West Hollywood." I couldn't stand it! I called the post office and gave the clerk our nine-digit ZIP code and asked him where it was located. He replied, "West Hollywood."
One more time! I called a toll-free number I though was a zoning office in Los Angeles. I stated my case. The lady laughed and said, "Honey, this is Sacramento, but I'd go with the United States Post Office." We had a nice conversation, agreeing that no one down here knows where he is--nor cares--and Hollywood is a myth, or more likely a huge movie set and we but players in it.
I'm with you, Herb, wherever you are.