I love the Northwest. I really do. If my life lasted another 80 years I’d plan on being based here for at least 70 of them. That being said, sometimes Southern California just feels really, really nice.
This recent visit was my first time in Los Angeles. Growing up in my house LA was always the bad guy. The big polluted city full of nothing but rich jerks, airheads, and gangs, all either pushing or using drugs that they wash down with water stolen from the poorer outlying towns. And they don’t have seasons! That’s the way I was raised. Blame my father.
After that you terrible description you might be wondering why I would ever visit LA. Well, I work in the student programs of the Associated Students of Puget Sound. I work in the office that brings performers to campus. Lectures, comedians, movies, musicians – stuff like that. There are 7 of us in the office and this year three of us got to attend a conference called NACA West.
NACA stands for National Association of Campus Activities and is kind of like a showroom for college performers. Agencies submit members of their roster to be showcased for the students and advisors that make the decisions and we in turn choose whether or not to book these performers for dates on our campus. It is a great opportunity for the school to tap a new source of talent as well as a wonderful experience for those who get to attend. We are lucky that Puget Sound sends students every year and I am lucky that I have been able to attend twice.
Now, to be fair, NACA West was not in Los Angeles. It was about an hour East in Ontario, California. Where is Ontario? Well, its East. That’s all I can tell you. They have an airport. And three In-N-Out. And a mall. And two movie theatres sharing a parking lot for a total of 52 screens. And hotels built for the sole purpose of servicing the people who visit that mall. And of course a convention center where we held our conference.
Luckily (I guess) the cheapest option for travel was to leave Tacoma at 3 AM on Thursday and arrive early in the morning in Los Angeles. Registration didn’t start until that afternoon and we didn’t see any reason to explore the Ontario mall, so we did what any other vitamin C deprived Washingtonian would do in the middle November, we went to Venice Beach. Despite never getting used to the fact that the shapes I saw on the horizon were not mountains but smog (gross), those two hours on Venice Beach almost made up for a childhood of brainwashing I endured about California. Yes, I saw a lot of those problems but they didn’t seem to bother me. Maybe it was sudden rush of sunshine, or maybe the smog was cutting off my oxygen supply, but I actually enjoyed my time there.
And then we made it to the conference and I saw Zero from Holes ruin my childhood by enlightening me about his new rap career. Maybe that knowledge would have been palatable on the beach, but not in a dark conference room turned theatre. Despite Mr. Zeroni’s efforts, I still flew North with a better appreciation for Southern California, and you know what, maybe this is the lack of sun talking, but I’m not sure I’d object to joining the So-Cal alumni and spending more than a weekend down there.