By Stanley Bing
January 15, 2009

I’ve been around the horn lately, surfing the tide of where my business takes me – Los Angeles to Las Vegas to LA again – and haven’t been back east for almost a month.  I’ve actually never been away from New York City for quite this long, not for years and years. When I planned this chunk of time, I didn’t think it would affect me all that much.

But after a while, I started to feel kind of weird… as if a central part of my persona was melting down… leaving an empty place that nothing rushed in to fill.

I had planned to stay in LA for another couple of days. But sometime on Monday, I realized I was unravelling. It hit me in the evening, when I was shopping for dinner at Trader Joe’s. The place was crowded enough; cars battled each other for available space in the parking lot with the same vicious spirit that inhabits your average casting call. In the store, people did that thing you do when you shop by yourself, each individual in their own bubble of concentration. Do I want this? Would I be happy eating that? Is that good for me? Or should I get a vegetable instead? I realized that perhaps 90% of the people in the store were shopping for one. That’s what show business is all about.

The week before, I was in Vegas. I think I may have mentioned that to you. I liked it. I won some money. I saw some gizmos. The weight of the loneliness in the casinos was palpable. Maybe it’s because business is down, I don’t know. But the dealers stood behind their felt barriers like cows in a field, waiting for action. Here and there, the odd slot machine disgorged change to a seemingly disinterested player, who took his winnings in stride and fed them back into its brightly dingdinging maw.  There was plenty of room in the sports book, too.

LA. Vegas. All about the space between people, cars, buildings.

So Tuesday morning, I booked the redeye back to New York for the following night. I’m pretty advanced in my march through life to take redeyes. It takes its toll. It’s harder to recover from one. So I guess something was really pushing me to get out of Dodge.  It wasn’t completely voluntary is what I’m trying to tell you. I had to go. I had to get back here, to the #1 place on this planet where everybody is in your face all the time.

So a couple of hours ago, I touched down on the 8:10 AM overnight flight from LA. It was snowing. The wind hit me like a hammer as I walked out of the enormous American Airlines terminal at Kennedy. Tiny particles of ice dug into my face. Right now I’m at my desk and the Weatherbug says it’s 16 degrees, and tomorrow it’s supposed to fall into the single digits. I’m going to go out in a few minutes and have lunch at the place where everybody knows my name, where a relatively small bunch of winners and losers hangs together for warmth in an environment that’s tough to take in more ways than one.

Lord it feels good to be back in that cold, hard place.

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