People take their weather kind of personally. People in Miami, for instance. You talk to them for five minutes, they brag to you about their glorious sunshine. New York turns out to be proud not of its good weather, but of its bad weather. People boast about having four whole seasons, and look down their noses at softies who can’t stand a little bit of winter. Boston, too, features a macho pride in its nine-month stint of off-and-on misery, interrupted by flesh melting heat in July and August and about a few weeks of glory in the fall. Chicago loves its wind. Minneapolis citizens view themselves as hearty pioneers in the frozen north.
But when it comes to the alignment of self-image with climate, nobody tops LA. People here ARE their weather. It’s possible that, in some weird way, they all believe that the combined, aggregated force of their individual and community vibrations create the beautiful environment in which they live. And they take each reversal as a personal message from God. Something is wrong when everything is not 72 degrees and sunny, with a few puffy cumulus clouds drifting out over the mountains to the sea. The cosmos is not what it should be. Fate is up to something.
That’s why it’s been such a weird week here. The rain started on Sunday, and it wasn’t a congenial, southern California rain, it was a torrential, tropical rainfall, but no, not tropical either, because it was a cold rain, a hard rain, so intense it almost felt like hail on the back of your head as you stepped out of your limo to attend the Golden Globes. Due to the innate optimism of the species in this locale, the organizers of the Globes did not put a tent over the red carpet. So Penelope Cruz got wet. Nobody could see each other in the forest of umbrellas. It was crazy. The handlers couldn’t find their moguls in the scrum. Confusion reigned.
Throughout the week, the rain has continued, like a bulletin from a higher power that we do not, in fact, control the universe. That’s an unpleasant message to industry people out here. They believe they do. The only thing I can compare the mood to is the way it felt in New York in October 2008. Back then, the sky was falling, too. Forces beyond everybody’s control were destroying the illusion of human infallibility and dominion. We had to wait for the rain to stop back then as well. And there were lots of people, of course, who told us that it never would. Right now, the weather people, ecstatic and gloomy, are plying their trade with a vengeance. They say we’ll have another day of it today. So people are worried. It’s hard to talk about business. The subject is the rain.
A few years ago, I was sitting in my office in midtown Manhattan and I realized I hadn’t heard from my guy in LA the whole day. So I called him up. He was dejected. “It took me almost two hours to get to the office today,” he said. “It’s a disaster out there.” I asked him what was so desperately wrong. I thought of mudslides. Fires. Tsunamis. “It’s raining,” he said. That was it? “People don’t like it when it rains out here,” he said. “Nobody can drive in it. They don’t know what to do.” I thought he was crazy. What a bunch of wusses, I thought.
Now, I don’t know. I see the clouds rolling in. On a normal day like this, I would be exulting in the management and corporate implications of John Edwards’ meltdown, which reached a new and interesting plateau today with his horrendously belated admission of paternity. But frankly? All I can think about is whether we’re going to see any sunshine before tomorrow. That whole story is pretty entertaining, though, don’t you think? I mean, why do people lie like that, particularly very public people. Do they think they can create their own weather by a sheer exercise of will?