Los Angeles, California--What People (who don’t live there) Think It Is: Endless sun, beaches, surfing, skateboarding, movie and TV stars, glamourous shopping meccas, ostentatious wealth, kooks, vineyards, pot, egos, traffic, earthquakes, and big dreams.
Los Angeles, California--What It Really Is:
All of the above… plus dust, smog, pedestrians, industry folks moonlighting in a lot of inglorious jobs (because they can’t make ends meet, otherwise), ratty apartments, ordinary people, fabulous diversity of foods, loneliness, and unfulfilled dreams.
Prior to making the Golden State my home, I probably wouldn’t have come up with everything on the second list; you can’t really know a place unless you spend some time there… as author Robert Bryndza (writing with husband Jan Bryndza, this time) clearly did, going by the tale told in Lost in Crazytown.
Lost in Crazytown centers around Filip--a guy not unfamiliar in Hollywood… transplanted from somewhere else (in his case, London), trying to get over a recent breakup, youthful, gay, with dreams of making it big (as a celebrity stylist).
Aside from having to leave everyone and everything he knows behind and moving thousands of miles to a place where he knows a total of one person, it seems like a sensible enough plan, right?
Well, sure… until the plane touches down and he learns that his sole L.A. acquaintance isn’t picking him up at the airport, but is leaving the country at that very minute for a gig, tossing Filip the keys to an apartment and a rental car as they pass each other on the concourse. (It’s important to point out here that Filip’s first experience driving on the “wrong” side of a car—which must be returned the next day—and the “wrong” side of the road, will be in L.A. traffic, leaving LAX.)
This situation is not remotely ideal.
Nor, as it turns out, is much of anything else. From the eccentric gay couple (of the “have-wealth-but-lack-anything-remotely-resembling-good-taste” variety) with whom he eventually strikes up a sort of not-exactly-friendship (more out of necessity than anything else), to the fading B-list actress (desperately trying to cling to the last vestiges of her former fame) for whom he winds up working, Filip finds not a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (or bottom of the Hollywood sign), but rather, frustration and disappointment at nearly every hairpin curve.
Until, that is, he somehow manages to find himself, again… and discovers what he really wants—what really matters to him—in life.
Robert Bryndza has become an author whose works I look for and anticipate before they come out. (The Erika Foster detective series keeps getting better and better, and his lighter works showcase witty comedic chops.) So, in addition to the obvious allure of reading about a fellow newbie in Tinseltown, it seemed a safe bet that Lost in Crazytown would provide some good fun, and I wasn’t disappointed. By turns amusing (sometimes even laugh-out-loud funny) and almost unbelievable (meaning, the situations he lays out are actually just the sorts of things that happen for reals, yo), I raced through this small tome, anxious to see how it all worked out… even as I was sad to say “buh-bye” to Filip (an imminently-likable protagonist).
For anyone who has ever toyed with the idea of living around Hollywood (or pretty much anywhere in the vast L.A. metro), or just visiting (particularly if you’re of the mindset that everything is rosy out here), Lost in Crazytown is a great little read.