Verisimilitude

There are no streetlights in Baywood.  No sidewalks. The only public light sources are the Alehouse, the Merrimaker and the laundromat.  Locals hear the surf crashing on the sand spit a mile away across the estuary and complain, the way one might complain about the freeway noise back in Los Angeles, where the over/under starts at $100,000 year.

Baywood is where you retreat when LA doesn’t work for you anymore but you want to stay in California. It’s where the life you wanted to have in Van Nuys or Echo Park is re-booted.

L.A. 2.0, on wheels...

L.A. 2.0, now on wheels…

It is where you park your RV in your friends driveway and figure out your next move.  And where you go when you close your bike shop, once named Best in the City by the LA Weekly, after 11 years.

Where you break out the wrenches and drill set, and turn the RV into a mobile bike base camp and solar-powered graphic design suite.   Where you simplify things by designing your own escape pod.

flaked5

LA being LA, the bike shop lives on as the filming location for a Netflix escapist fantasy called Flaked.  The show is set in Venice and centered on a guy named Chip who owns a store hawking hand crafted three legged stools of his own design, but has no apparent customers yet manages to stay afloat.  Chip also lives rent-free by the beach and dates women half his age, and spends much of the first season perambulating around Venice on his bicycle, unencumbered by adult responsibilities like a monthly nut, or a business plan.  Flaked, by objective measurement, is not a quality show. The verisimilitude problems are impossible to get beyond. But I binged on it as a secret vice, the way Mrs. U watches the housewife shows. Punching a clock in the Valley, who wouldn’t want to live the life of Chip?

flaked-season-2

The world is smaller than we think it is.  Fate not long ago placed one of the Flaked co-stars not named Will Arnett in the backseat of my Uber and he would spend the ride home trying without success to court, Chip-like,  a much younger female passenger. After she exited the car without yielding a number,  he laughed about it with me.  He agreed with my assessment of the show.  The lie it was telling about Los Angeles was his livelihood. He couldn’t have been nicer or more gracious.

IMG_7575

The real life Chip is more more athletic and better looking.   Also un-entitled and self-effacing and responsible. As he packed up his store he found letters to his workers he never sent, some dated five years ago, listing all the reasons he could no longer keep it going. Owning a business is not like a regular job. You cant just flake. He employed 15 people and spent years working with the city to open up bike lanes and paths. Now he loads up on packets at the hamburger stand to take back to the RV as he waits to hear from unemployment. Ask him if he’s bitter and he says no.  He’s put in his time in LA. The only thing he misses about it is being faster than every car on the road when riding his bike.

The trail forward looks like this

The trail out of LA looks like this

 

Escape to Baywood

Where Marcus lost his name

Where Marcus lost his name…

and is known as The Baker

…and is now known as The Baker

IMG_3365

IMG_3377

IMG_3431

IMG_3533 (1)

IMG_3371

IMG_3446

IMG_3580

IMG_3458

IMG_3359 (1)

IMG_3335

IMG_3499 (1)

Where your living space doubles, but your rent goes down.  Where you leave your wallet on a bench at the Ale House, and its waiting for you at the bar the next day.  Where the civic moniker is a paddle surfing cow. Where the streets just now are getting paved and the sewer lines at long last being put in.  Where your vegetable oil burning Mercedes comes to die.  Where you name your dishwasher Humphrey.  Where you rise at 3 AM to shape the loaves, and stay open only until the last one is sold. Where all your needs can be satisfied within a two block radius. Where if you want to go West, you get on a kayak. If you want to go elsewhere, you get on a bike.

You’re never going back to Echo Park.

The Crack in the Door

IMG_7929

When it comes to time to move, there are things you you put in the U-Haul, and then there are things you leave behind.  Like the crack in the door that appeared when you slammed it during a fight three years ago.   You’ll never have to see that again.

IMG_7926

Echo Park is done.  The Mysteries of Baywood await. Fresh doors, untrammeled by passion.

Leaving Echo Park

Marcus, in repose

Marcus, in repose

After 17 years in Mt. Washington, Atwater, and Echo Park, grinding out a living at the Silver Lake Trader Joe’s, enjoying the musical and culinary feast of the East Side,  biking every trail,  biking everywhere, owning the city by leg and pedal,  my golf and drinking buddy Marcus is decamping from Los Angeles.  He’s going to run a bread bakery in Baywood, on the central coast.  His beautiful Other, Allison, is going with him.  She’s said goodbye to a private school administrative job and its attendant stress and annoyances and soon Mrs. UpintheValley will have to make do without her.

Baywood,  rising at 3am, to shape the loaves.  Living over the bakery.  Running the store, working the farmer’s market.   No Sunset Beer Co. or Mohawk Bend just a few blocks away.  No commute, either.  No unceasing demands of entitled parents. Long, quiet hours as the master of one’s destiny.

Cheaper rent is an easy explanation for this, but it’s not about the money as much as it is about a change in the course of one’s life.

Then again, cheaper rent makes the change in vector possible.  Without it, you’re chained to your traffic slot on the 405 with the rest of us.

Next month a one-bedroom teacup bungalow on Allesandro St. will be going on the market for $2500/month.  There will be a stampede of applicants.  This is the way Los Angeles is now.

We all wished them well

We all wished them well