I have visited Los Angeles dozens of times over the years and have always been impressed by . . . the warm weather. No, just kidding.
The sense of optimism and adventure of the natives has always left its mark on me, as I headed back east to New York City. That's where people try to push past you to be the first ones off the airplane and curse you audibly when you linger too long in getting your carry-on luggage off the overhead compartment.
But this time in L.A., I noticed a seismic shift in the collective psyche of the denizens. They somehow seemed down in the dumps, cautious about expressing optimism — regardless of whether they actively supported Gov. Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama.
No matter which candidate they planned on voting for, the Angelinos I glimpsed felt nervous about America's future — so uneasy that they couldn't even enjoy the spectacular heat wave that I enjoyed the moment I deplaned in the City of Angels.
What's ailing these usually carefree folks? The economy, of course, is topsy-turvy. Hollywood needs a booming economy to sell more tickets to the mostly formulaic films they trundle out week after week.
Abroad, it has been proven that U.S.-made culture is one of this country's greatest exports. Without the promise of a good environment for the entertainment industry, Los Angeles residents are naturally gloomy.
Plus, the Los Angeles Lakers, the resident darlings of the city (sorry, hockey champion L.A. Kings) have had a disappointing exhibition season, trying to incorporate new stars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Once the season begins for real, Kobe Bryant will no doubt again assert himself and all will be right in L.A. sports heaven for the next six months.
But all the slam dunks in the world won't restore the city's sense of optimism any time soon. Maybe the spectacle of a crippling weather storm back east this week will bring a sly smile to the faces of the Southern Californians, who will watch weather reports of dislocation and destruction and mutter: Thank God, I live HERE.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution," which is now available. Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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