Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Networking with the City of Angels

As in any city, networking is very important. I'm pretty confident that the phrase, "It's all about who you know," came from Los Angeles. My old World Changers/Power Plant friend, John Weirick, asked me to write about the blessings and curses of networking in Hollywood.

Dear John, (couldn't resist)

In theory, networking in Hollywood is super easy. This is the blessing part. Just step outside and speak to the first person that passes you by. This should take approximately 45 seconds. People here are seemingly more friendly than you would think. Credit is due to the fact that so many people live here that it is practically impossible to live a life of solitude, you must interact with people. If you are wanting to work in the Entertainment Industry you are in the prime networking place. Every coffee shop you go to will have at least one person reading a script, one person writing a script and one group talking about a project they just worked on. Everyone promises to know someone who knows someone who shops at the same grocery store as so-in-so. It is very easy to find people that are going down the same career path as you and you can help each other achieve goals.

Here is the curse. When you are in the Entertainment Industry, especially as an actor, everything about you is a business move. My hair cut, my facial hair, my clothes; its all important. I am a walking business card. Everything you can think of can be a strategic business move including friendships, dating, where you shop, where you exercise and so on. As crazy as that may sound so many people here live life out that way and you can get burned incredibly easy. People are quick to use you for their benefit and move on to the next. The lower on the Industry food chain you are, the more you have to look out. The air is thick, filled with empty promises. There are lots of people who use their connections and power to lure you. They want you to help out with a project and promise you exposure, connections and help. They get the help they needed from you while you end up with nothing more than wasted time. Because of all of this it can be difficult to tell who is genuine and who is playing the game. Its a tricky, slippery, exciting and dangerous game to play.

So far the best people that I have networked with have come from my church, RealityLA and from doing various background work and other gigs. Usually the people who are only looking out for themselves typically throw out some red flags. For example they are usually overly interested in what you can do all the while being a name dropper and trying to impress you.

You just have to have a positive attitude, remember its a game, and keep your eye on the BIG picture that this whole life is about.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

_______________ Part 2

written Monday night

In last week's post I basically talked about how much was happening in my life about my life but I had nothing to do with it. I was just having to sit back and watch. Well the very next morning was just one more reminder of how all of that was going down.

The two guys who were going to be moving in and replacing my roommate, backed out. Thus meaning my roommate could not move out. So now, everything is kind of like it was. I think we are still looking for a replacement for him so that he can move out. So, we'll just see what tomorrow brings.

In other exciting news, I did get the spot on the reality show!! So exciting! Today was spent meeting the other cast members and learning our responsibilities for the show. I cannot give out too many details as of yet, via the internet, because the show has not been picked up yet. So there is still a crazy chance that someone else could take the idea for the show and beat us to the chase.

In addition to getting to know one another today, we had to rehearse for three major important meetings that will take place on Tuesday. We have three production companies that are interested in producing our show. That means there are three companies that are interested in actually filming and making the show, and trying to sell it to television networks. These meetings are really exciting because we are meeting with the executives of these companies. Our show has already passed through all of the smaller offices and people and now we are dealing directly with the top of the chain. So nerve wracking! Basically at this point they are all sold on the show concept and now just need to be sold on the cast. SO, the day will be spent doing nothing more than public speaking, schmoozing and essentially parading myself around. In fact as you read this I may be introducing myself to the guys who came up with "The Biggest Loser" or "The Real Housewives of Orange County." It will be a long long day!

So here is the run down of what needs to happen for this show to be on the air. We need one of these production companies to say they want to produce the show. Technically we want more than one of them to want the show, then they will fight over it and we will get the best deal out of it. Then from that point, that production company has to get a network to buy the show and decide that they want to air it on their network. It only seems like two little steps that need to be taken. This is true. However, in actuality there are hundreds of other shows who are also needing these same two steps to be taken. If any situation defines, "So close, yet so far," it is this one.

It is truly a fun a situation to be in. I know that it is a crazy blessing for me to already be in a situation like this after only being in Los Angeles since December and pursuing acting since February. And even though it is a reality show, rest assured my acting skills will be put to test tomorrow.

summary: I need some prayer!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I am in the most awkward, un-assuring time of my life. Literally as I write this I have no clue what the future holds and by that I mean, I literally do not know what my life will look like one week from today. My life is on pause; rather my person is on pause while my life continues around me. I am currently nothing more than a bystander to my own life. Several changes and decisions that will directly impact my life are happening, but I have nothing to do with them.

At the end of this week my current roommate will be moving out and two other guys will be moving in. These guys are only temporary and will be moving out in August so I will be looking for a replacement for them. However, I do not know what next week will look like much less what August will look like.

Try and follow:
Next Monday I will have a meeting with a cast for a reality show that I, may or may not, be a part of to discuss several meetings that will take place on Tuesday. Those meetings will be with executives and producers that, may or may not, want to film the show. Then they will talk with television networks who, may or may not, want to air the show on their channel. If the show gets picked up then I, may or may not, have to move to the other side of Los Angeles. In the mean time I have to sign a contract saying that I will not get any other acting jobs for one year so that I will not back out on this show that, may or may not, become a reality. My head, may or may not, explode.

I cannot apply for jobs, or submit myself for auditions right now because I do not know what is going on. Nor do I know at what point in the future I will know what is going on. We have all seen the big scene in an action movie where someone is speeding down the road in a car only to find that the break line has been cut. Okay, now imagine that same scene but instead of the car going 90mph, its going closer to 10mph. That, is my life.

I'm looking forward to next week's update. I will be in the middle of all the excitement of the interviews and meetings and hopefully will have a much better grasp on what in the world is going on with my life! This is for sure an extremely exciting time for me, but I am beyond anxious! I cannot wait to see what God has in store and where this is all taking me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I do not even know where to begin.

Sad. Happy. Surprised. Taken back. Helpless. Confused. Hopeful. Still.

I have been without words and mixed emotions for almost an entire month. Shortly after my last post I was fortunate to be able to return home to celebrate my Grandfather's 90th birthday and Easter! Little did I know that one month later I would still be at home. This has potentially been one of the craziest months of my life.

For a little bit of back story, my family notoriously and traditionally never has a good month of May. May is when the deaths, accidents and bad news occurs with the Tates. May arrives like a unwanted grocery store reunion of a high school acquaintance. You look down the aisle just in time to make eye contact with Awkward McGee and now begrudgingly await their approach. Each year my family grind our teeth, squint our eyes and pray to successfully make it through this month. This year May got a head start.

After only a few hours of being back home for my visit, my mother sat down beside me on the couch. She began to explain that she had breast cancer. Welcome home to me. Cancer is something that is constantly happening all around us, but for some reason we tend to believe we are invincible. What do you do, what can you do, when there is literally nothing you can do; it is completely out of your hands. She explained that they caught the cancer early and that it had not reached a stage yet. She was to have surgery in two weeks and then begin five weeks of radiation. I originally was planning only to stay two weeks; immediately my plans changed. I could not believe that this was happening. It was a Tuesday.

Friday, Good Friday, was my Grandfather's birthday. He had no clue I was coming into town and I could not wait to surprise him. He is my last living grandparent and he means the world to me. You should have seen the look on his face we I showed up! At first he did not really pay attention to the fact I was there. Nothing new, just Wes. Then you could see it click. I was supposed to be 2,000 miles away, not in Alabama. His mouth opened and he just stared. I will cherish that moment forever. To add to that excitement came Easter Sunday! I mentioned in a earlier post how Easter was my favorite holiday. I was so excited to be able to spend it at home with my family. Beautiful day!

Then came Wednesday. The day Alabama was ravished by tornados. Nothing is a stranger feeling than having to sit back, helpless, and watch such an event unfold. Even trying to write this now I do not know what to say. I watched a tornado plow through Cullman and a few hours later I watched as one tore through my town. How do you express that? You can't. I would shortly find out, that feeling would only increase as the sound of sirens sang me to sleep that night. It is just mind boggling to live somewhere for twenty-four years and not be able to recognize anything. To drive down streets where you went to high school, and point out which pile of rubble someone used to call home. To not know where your friends were at the time and if they were okay. To be thankful for your safety but so torn over others.

Recovery is not a new word but one I am beginning to understand. It seems to be the stage that my surroundings and I are in. Recovery is a word that appears to be very positive, and it is. It is no longer the worst, you have already been there, and now you are on the way back up. That however does not mean you get off easy. Through watching my mom post surgery and Tuscaloosa in the aftermath, I see just how much pain is really involved in the recovery. It is in the recovery that you grow, learn, are challenged and changed. The people who lost their homes during the tornado may have been injured and hurt. But the pain is in the digging in the rubble to find the remains of your life. After injury and surgery the pain comes in the rehab and the rest.

All through out life each of us will be faced with hard times. Wether it be spiritual, physical, psychological, troubles with relationships, finances or health we must be strong in the recovery. The recovery maybe the toughest and most crucial times in our lives. It is important to desperately cling onto the truths and foundations of our lives. This song and scripture has been constantly playing in my head through this month. It is filled with much promise and reminds me of the greatness that is to come!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sittin, Waitin, Wishin

Have you ever been in a place where you knew a life changing event was going to take place? Where you literally knew the timeframe you had and the only thing you could do was absolutely nothing? You just had to sit back and be a bystander of your own life? Ladies and Gentlemen, I welcome you to the life and times of Wes Tate.

I would venture to say that this was life, for the most part, in Los Angeles for someone trying to break into the entertainment industry. You see a posting for a role so you submit yourself in hopes they want you to come audition. Then you sit, wait and wish for a phone call asking you to come audition. If you get that phone call then you go audition and then sit, wait and wish for a call saying they want you to come back. Then if you make it that far you have to sit, wait and wish for a phone call saying you got the part. Lots of sitting, waiting and wishing.

At this point, I have been on four auditions and have received one callback. That callback, turned into another callback. Then that callback informed me that it was between one guy and myself for a part!

And now we sit, wait and wish.

Around the third week of May I will be shooting a "sizzle" for a new reality show. A sizzle is basically a promo reel for a reality show in order to pitch it to the networks in hopes the show gets picked up. The thing is that my competition will also be shooting the same sizzle in the same role that I am. The producers have yet to decided which of us they want in the show. They like us both and do not want to loose either, but have to. So after we both shoot the sizzle they will choose who makes the cut.

This opportunity is potentially a game changer for me and at this point there is nothing I can do, for an entire month and some days! But sit, wait and wish... and pray of course!

I am kind of at peace about this. I know that it is out of my hands and that God is in control. I know that I have done what I can and if God wants me to have this role, I will. So, only time will tell!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blessed Be Your Name

Have you ever had a terrible day or week immediately followed by the polar opposite day or week? That has just happened to me! Two weeks ago was collectively one of the worst weeks I have had in Los Angeles. Nothing seemed to go my way. I could not get booked for any work. I could not get a response from the agent that contacted me. I kept getting rejected for background work... background work. I mean if you cannot get cast for background you might as well hang it up. It is worse than being picked last for dodgeball; at least that kid got to play, I was told to just stay inside. It sucked.

How does the saying go? When you are down there is only one way to go, and that is up? Well last week was the absolute best week out here! I was booked to work four days! Three of those days I got overtime and the other day I got featured! Which means I may get a credit and can put it on my actors resume! Currently that resume only consist of theatre productions preformed last decade by the prestigious Holt High School Drama Club. This week was such a huge blessing. I could not believe how perfect the week was. To close off the week, Sunday I had an audition that went really well! In fact, earlier today I got a call back, meaning I am one step closer to getting the part! Not thirty minutes after getting that call I received another for an audition this Thursday. I am so excited!!

Despite the excitement of the week and my Sunday audition, came the one year reminder of my Grandmother's passing. That day at church we sang "Blessed Be Your Name."


I was moved to tears. This moment could not have better summed up the past two weeks. This passage and song can be such a hard pill to swallow sometimes. It can be hard to see God's love during the hard times and pain. We can be quick to anger and question God instead of giving him praise. "Blessed Be Your Name," I believe is arguably one of the greatest worship songs written in our lifetime. It reminds us that God is always in control, always loves, always has a plan and always is praiseworthy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reflections on 100 Days!

One of my new friends out here suggested that each month I write down a list of my accomplishments. Times can be very emotionally difficult out here, and having a positive list can help you stay mentally strong. Do not worry, I am not going to turn this into a pat-myself-on-the-back post.

Over the past 100 days a lot has happened for me! I can definitely tell that I am where I am supposed to be at this point in my life. Of course there has been several instances and days, like today, where you feel super down on yourself and you are ready to pack it all up. However, I am going to start back at day one and try to point out positive, affirming things that have happened.

By back at day one I mean bag check at the airport. My bag was over weight, instead of the charging me an extra $25 the attendant let it slide. On the plane the woman beside me bought my dinner. Within a week of being in LA I had a potential roommate and job. (The roommate worked out, the job did not.) I went out to LA with no means of transportation because I planed on using the metro system. My third week out there a family went out of their way to let me use one of their cars for the next four weeks. On my official move to LA in February, it was a complete work of God we made it through Texas. Most of East Texas was iced over and probably had one of the worst winter storms they have seen. We bought our refrigerator from a guy at In-n-Out. He asked where my parents and I were from, so naturally, that lead to him selling us his fridge. My first day working as an extra I met a guy from Tuscaloosa who grew up with my brother-in-law! After joining LA Casting within a week I had an agent contact ME, instead of having to send out my information to a several agents hoping to hear back from one.

All in all I am pleased with how things are going. Some instances are still open without conclusion yet, like the agent or a job. But you have to take one day at a time, right? They say it takes five years for someone to become an overnight success and ten years for everyone else. So, we will see. I am just trying to serve God and pay them bills!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Make it Count

Last Friday a new page turned. In fact, the twenty-fourth chapter began, and I usually do not read books with that many chapters; however, in this case lets be glad I did. I turned twenty-four years old! Can you believe it? I am growing up! Here I am almost done with the first quarter and I am still trying to get over the disappointment that kindergarten nap time set me up for.

Besides my birthday happening, so is Spring! I love Spring, it is by far my favorite season. For starters its about the only season in Alabama that the temperature is actually bearable. It host my birthday, talk of the upcoming fall football season and college spring games. Easter, which is my favorite holiday and with that comes the best candy. The colors and the flowers are fantastic, especially all of the tulips covering the Alabama campus. All of the green grass and trees. I could continue but I will save us all the time.

All of that aside, I hate that I will be missing Alabama in Spring time. It seems as though part of my journey so far can be marked by things I have missed. Christmas. My brother and father's birthdays. My birthday. I will miss my sister's birthday and Easter. Probably my sister-in-law's birthday and my grandfather's. It makes it hard and causes me to question my being in Los Angeles. Sometimes I am afraid that when looking back on these occasions it will be as though my life was void during this time. I will not be in the family photos or the stories. Almost non-existent in reminiscings.

In stead of allowing this to get me down, it has encouraged me. I cannot make up the events and holidays I have missed, nor can I prevent my absence at future ones. What I can do, however, is make it count. Failure is no option, that only means it was all for nothing. I am setting goals and fighting to reach them, striving to make it all count. If I achieve my goals and serve God in whatever I am doing, I believe it will all be worth it.

I find it very appropriate that I have begun this new season of life during my favorite season. The Spring season is significant of a fresh start, starting over. Is that not what Easter is all about? Jesus bringing new life? A second chance? Now, during Lent and with the start of Spring right around the corner, is the perfect chance for each of us to make our lives count. Let us not leave our hardships and struggles in vain and bitterness, but in strength and with determination. Let's Make it count!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fabulous Life of an Extra, or Something Like That

I have gotten some questions about my background acting gigs and how that process works, so here it goes!

I have found out that there are talent agencies for everything under the sun. Acting, modeling, singing, writing, voice overs and background acting all have separate agencies. I am currently signed up with an agency called Central Casting which is a background talent agency. What this means is that casting directors for television shows, movies, commercials, print ads and so on, will call up Central Casting when they need extras and stand ins for their projects. To do background there is no talent needed, you just pay $25 for a three year membership to Central Casting and you are in.

After you sign up you are given a pin number and a little online profile. Each day I have a number that call to listen to see what the different casting directors are looking for. If I feel as though I fit the description, I call up the director. At this point it kind of turns into a radio show contest. Busy signal, after busy signal, after busy signal until hopefully I get a ring. If I get through and they answer I give them my pin number and they pull up my profile, which has my picture and measurements. Right there on the phone they will tell me if they want me or not. Sometimes they say you are not what we are looking for, but you cannot really take it personal, although it is hard not to. If you are booked, they give you another number to call which has all of the info you need for the shoot. What to wear, where to go, when to be there, where to park, if you will be feed, etc. Most of the work is for the next day so you call on Monday to get booked for Tuesday and so on. Sometimes they book a few days in advance and sometimes they are booking for multiple days.

You do get paid to do background work which is great! You are paid a set $64 for eight hours of work. What that means is that if I only work three hours I will still get paid the full $64, and if I work longer than the eight, I will get paid overtime! So that is a great deal!

Being on set is fun and I do enjoy it. You get to see all the background action and learn all of the filming terms and lingo. What is not too fun about it is that you are at the absolute bottom of the totem pole. You do not want to mess anything up because they will not hesitate to chew you up and out. I was on one set and the actress stopped the filming to fuss at one of the background actors for clinking his dishes during the restaurant scene. Another director yelled at a background actor for missing his cue and was sent off of the set. So it is very important to pay attention and not get in the way at all! For the most part the actual actors have been nice! While doing Extra with Mario Lopez he would joke around about his lines and make fun of them. He would call the writers out for the lines not making any sense or for being lame. It is nice to see when actors realize they are just a normal person who has been very blessed!

So far I have been able to work on Mad Love, Extra, Cougartown, The Event, and 90210. I filmed the season finale for each of those, except Extra, so it will be awhile before I can watch to see if I made any face time. You never know where background stuff may lead. The chances of anything coming from it is very very slim. It is about like a janitor of a fortune 500 company becoming the CEO. However; I am making lots of connections with other people who are working to become actors and directors. Do you remember Gunther from Friends? He was the Barista at Central Perk who had the crush on Rachel. He was just a background actor that they decided to make a regular. So, you never know.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coincident or Destined

Have you ever been faced with a mind blowing small world encounter? Disneyland and Disneyworld have a ride called "It's a Small World," which is a different kind of mind blowing. It is a Disney original that you must go on, it is terrible, but you cannot enter those parks and not ride it. It would be like going to college in Tuscaloosa and never going to City Cafe or Dreamland. Going to New York City and not seeing the Statue of Liberty; New Orleans and Cafe Du Monde. I digress. I have a small world story that will probably put your small world story to shame.

Last Friday I booked a gig as a background actor in an episode of the new CBS series, "Mad Love." I got paid to stand in the background of scenes and pantomime conversations with other people. It was a lot of awkward and a lot of fun! The show was taped in Culver City on the Sony Studios lot, which is about thirty minutes away from my apartment. When I got there I got my visitors' pass and made my way to the stage where we would be filming. This was so exciting! My first Hollywood experience! After I got there I was directed to the background actors' holding trailer where I set my bags down. Part of doing background is that you have to bring your own wardrobe. It is a long story, but you bring all these clothes options and then go through the wardrobe department and have them approve your looks.

On my backpack I have a small Canadian flag patch from when I spent the summer with World Changers in Canada. There were about fifteen to twenty extras in the room and one asked if I was from Canada. Upon responding that I was from Alabama someone spoke up from across the room and said, "ROLL TIDE!" Excited and disoriented I said, "ROLL TIDE... are you from Alabama?" Here is the rest of the dialogue:

Him: "Yes"
Me: "What part are you from?"
Him: "Tuscaloosa"
Me: "...No way! I'm from Cottondale! Where did you go to school?"
Him: "I went to Central."
Me: "What year did you graduate?"
Him: "'92"
Me: "My brother-in-law graduated in '93! Max Karrh?"
Him: "Dude, my sister used to babysit Max!"

WHAT? Are you kidding me? I am currently 2,035 miles away from home, in a metro with over 10 million people and I just met a guy who is not only from the same state and town as me, but whose sister babysat my brother-in-law!? Coincident or destined?

This Sunday after church a few of us walked to a Denny's that was across the street. I cannot tell you the last time I ate at a Denny's. I am pretty sure there is a faded plastic kid's cup in a Cottondale cabinet that marks that occasion. These days I am trying my best to not eat out. It is just cheaper and healthier to cook and prepare the food yourself. However, it is very nice to fellowship and get to know new people after church, especially being new, so I went along. I decided before hand that I was only going to eat half of whatever I ordered so that I could eat the rest for dinner. If I could turn one meal into two I could justify spending the money on eating out. I got a delicious hamburger and fries that I would have normally finished but found myself full with half a burger and half an order of fries left. I asked for a carryout box and packed my food, I was the only one that had any leftovers. After taking literally four steps out of the door there was a homeless man standing there, who simply asked for my leftovers. He had no clue what was in the box, but he was hungry. Coincident or destined?

These things happen more often than we notice, sometimes we deliberately ignore them. It IS a small world, and God is in control of it. Sure, I believe that somethings are just a coincident. My roommate and I both wore green pants to church on Sunday, nothing spiritual about that. But let us not overlook our situations and environment. Instead of taking the time to complain about the weather or about the length of a line, lets take the time to see why we are in them. God may have us in a place for a reason.

As for the homeless man, I told him to get a job and kept walking. Just kidding, I handed him my food. My goal was to turn one meal into two and I did. There is no way that was a coincident, God provided for him.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is the Real World on the Map?

(written for last Tuesday's post, lack of internet prevented that. So pretend it's last week.)

Has anyone actually found the real world? Not the MTV show, but the “Real World.” This post, in sorts, is a continuation of last week’s, “A Tale of Two Cities.” While packing and moving back and forth from Tuscaloosa to Los Angeles, I have thrown around the term the real world more times than I have had birthdays. When coming home after being in Los Angeles I said I was going back to the real world. Then when packing to head back to Los Angeles from the previous said real world, I said that I was going to the real world. Lost yet? Now my parents are leaving for Tuscaloosa tomorrow and I will be on my own once again, and you guessed it, I will be in - the - real - world.

This Matrix of a situation is not just a recent phenomenon. For anyone who has ever been to a church camp, mission project or a regular summer camp, when it is time to return home we say we are headed back to the real world. When we are students and it is time to return to school from summer or Christmas break, we are going back to the real world. When we graduate from college we are then welcomed to the real world. So where is this so called Real World, do we even know? Do we each have our own reality that we are bound to? Is it always the unpleasant like school, work, or a land of bills; or can it be an enjoyable place?

I for one cannot answer this question entirely or give you a mathematical equation to find the answer. I do believe that none of us have reached our real world yet. Without turning this into a huge theological debate, our real world is our eternity. None of the stresses or worries we have today will matter in the future; most will not even matter one year from now. Remember junior high drama? None of that mattered! Who we are now, what we do, what we believe and whom we worship all determine where our real world will be. This is what does matter. I challenge you to reflect on your life, your frustrations, your joy, and your beliefs. Where is your real world?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Tale of Two Cities

As I lay in my bed for the first time last Saturday in almost two months, I found myself in an odd situation. Something just did not seem to be right. I was in the same house, same bed, same family so what was different? The answer to that question is still unknown but allow me to walk through my hypothesis.

For nearly two months I have been working on making Los Angeles my own. I was making new friends, constantly searching for a place to live and visiting different churches of all types of worship styles. I was finding a roommate and looking for new shops. I was applying for jobs and going on interviews. Simultaneously, however, things were just as progressive back home. Friends moved, my childhood pet died, holidays were celebrated and degrees were earned. Wedding plans were made and dates were set.

Somewhere in my psyche I convinced myself that everything back in Tuscaloosa would be frozen in time while I moved ahead. As I lay there I realized this place was no longer mine, yet Los Angeles was not mine either. I found myself in some kind of limbo, not the game with the broomstick unfortunately, but more of the unknown. I had a Home; it is where the heart is, right? And rest assured, that was in Tuscaloosa! Nonetheless, I have discovered that I am a man stuck between two cities. My home in one but now my life in another. I can only assume that this is what most people will feel at one point in their life; whether it be from going away for college, work, or marriage. It is all just another part of growing up and making your life your own. This perspective just adds to the excitement and anticipation of what is to come! Because of this, clutching to my faith and values is ever more important.

I am writing this the day before I head back to Los Angeles. This time my stay will be for a much longer period of time. I am positive that I will have these feelings all over again when I get to my new apartment. My parents will be helping me move in and I have brought some special things from home. Hopefully, this will potential help bridge the gap between my two cities.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

West Coast vs Gulf Coast

The true gangsta battle.

Obviously there are going to be many differences in California and Alabama. California is quit arguably the most liberal state in America while Alabama is arguably the most conservative. My time in Los Angeles has been short so I have not picked up on too many cultural differences but I will gladly tell you a few.

The first thing that I noticed is that people out here are much more outgoing, not necessarily friendlier, just more outgoing. In Alabama we kind of have an unwritten rule not to talk to any strangers, we will smile at you all day long but we tend to keep to ourselves. We stand in the checkout lines and use the urinal rule (Ladies, this rule is head straight forward, no eye contact and no talking.) We just patiently wait our turn to be checked out. We only talk to each other when things are not going according to plan; the cashier is new, the barcode is messed up, or someone is wanting to pay in dimes and nickels. Then we turn to one another and make little comments to make light of the situation. People in Los Angeles will just start up a conversation for no reason. I kid you not, my roommate and I were walking down the body wash aisle. Out of nowhere a woman, who was on the phone, stuck a bottle in our faces and told us to smell how incredible it was. I may have glared at her a little rudely for breaking the our rule. Other times I have been standing in line with someone carrying on a conversation and had other people chime in on it. Oh, and one of my very first shopping experience in California was in Target. I was wearing a red Alabama shirt and a complete stranger stopped me and told how I should not be wearing that shirt. At first I was taken aback and ready to get in an argument with this stranger about how awesome Alabama is. She proceeded in telling me how she made the mistake of wearing a red shirt to Target once and everyone kept stopping her to ask her questions because it appeared she worked there. I guess when you live in a such a populated area you cannot avoid people and at some point you just give in and start talking to strangers.

Diversity is another huge difference that you will quickly pick up on. People of all races and nationalities live in California, and many have grown up here. This can be seen everywhere. Los Angeles has parts of town that are official known as Little Armenia, Little Tokyo and Koreatown. You will get into some of these areas where billboards and signs will no longer be in English. Church has been another place where I have seen diversity. Sadly, in Alabama (and the majority of the south) our churches are normally segregated and not for malice reasons, they just are. Our given history I am sure plays a part in this, but anyone reading this not from Alabama, please know that we do not purposefully and maliciously segregate our churches. I have been to several churches out here and each one has been beautifully diverse. Worship is a completely different experience when you can look around the room and see God's people of different races praising the same Father. It is awesome and I believe a little glimpse of Heaven.

Those are the two big cultural differences that I have noticed. As I stay longer I will pick up on more. Currently I am learning that football is not a big deal, naturally they have the Pac 10, I would not care for football either. Religion is taboo here, the only time it is okay to talk about it is when you are saying how you do not like it. Northern California is more liberal while Southern California is more conservative, this is out of complete greed not morals like in the South. Alas, It is too early in the game for me to speak on these topics.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

5 Best Free Things to do in Los Angeles

5. Hollywood Boulevard/Rodeo Drive

These are two of the most notorious strips in all of America! Hollywood Boulevard is where the walk of fame is and you can find your favorite celebrities' star. Also, there are tons of crazies out there dressed up in all kinds of everything to try and earn your money. So that is fun too, just do not take their picture unless you expect to give them some money. Rodeo Drive is in Beverly Hills and you are bound to run into celebrities. Last time I was there I ran into Tito Jackson and Taye Diggs. All of the high end stores can be found here and its fun to walk around and window shop. Also I discovered there is a Roots. Roots is a Canadian "Outdoors" clothing store, kind of like American Eagle and Abercrombie, that I fell in love with when I was in Canada for a summer with World Changers. This is very dangerous for me.

4. TV Show Tapings

I had the opportunity to go and see a live taping of Two and a half Men. I do not like the show at all but the experience was a lot of fun! These are free to go to and any show that is filmed in front of a live audience gives out tickets for the show. Anything from Jimmy Kimmel Live and Conan to Big Bang Theory and Two and a half Men. All you have to do is go to their website and request tickets! You get to walk through the studio lot that the show is being taped on and you get to see all the behind the scene action! If you are planning a trip to Los Angeles I would recommend looking up your favorite show and see if they will be taping when you are in town.

3. The Hollywood Sign
Whenever you get a glimpse at the Hollywood sign from any location in Los Angeles you get excited and someone is always quick to point it out. One of the more fun times that I have had out here is finding the sign and just driving towards it. There is a neighborhood at the base of the mountain called "Hollywood Land," and when you get in it you can just take the road that leads up. You will hit numerous forks in the road, just examine the roads and much like life, take the high roads. You will eventually get to a part where the road ends and there are large signs that say you can not go any further and its illegal to walk to the sign; but a quick little stop for a photo opp is not too harmful. Just do not get caught.

2. Mountain Hiking

Los Angeles is surrounded by mountains. Currently you can see snow capped mountains from Downtown LA. Hiking trails can be found on most of these mountains, in fact there is a famous one called Runyon Canyon Park and its' trails go throughout the Hollywood Hills and under the Hollywood sign. I walked up part of one of those trails and the view was incredible! You could see the Hollywood sign, the ocean and the tops of the buildings in Downtown Los Angeles. My apartment is at the base of a mountain in Burbank and today I ventured into it. The view was amazing; however, I was wearing sandals and that was a mistake. I was intrigued by how high I was going up and then realized it was too high... it was much like a cat who climbs too high in a tree. Here is website that has all of the trails you can take in the area! LA Mountains

1. The Beach

This is Southern California and even though you are in the mountains you are also a short drive to beach! Santa Monica Pier is fun, free (minus the parking) and there is also a small amusement park on the pier. The pier has several restaurants, street performers and tourist shops. Beside the pier is a "Chess Park" where you can bring your chess pieces and use the tabletop boards to play other opponents, this was actually kind of fun to watch. There is a playground and also a little place to workout beside the pier as well. There is a bike bath that goes down the middle of the beach, so you can bring your bike and ride on down the coast. A little ways down the coast is Venice beach, which is notorious for people going there to work out and be seen. If you are into people watching, this is your spot! Also I think it is a given that one must do the Baywatch run on a LA beach.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Los Angeles the Roller Coaster

So on December 1, 2010 I made the move to Los Angeles! It has been a ride for sure; filled with highs, lows and maintenance checks. Things started out quick. Day one was awesome and went well, until I walked passed someone wearing an Auburn sweatshirt. Literally the day fell apart after that. I did not bring my car out here with me for several reasons. One, I did not want to bring it out here and not find a job and apartment then have to take it and my stuff back to Tuscaloosa. Second, people all over the world cannot afford cars so I wanted to experience how that felt. Annnnd I did. It sucked. The LA Metro is not user friendly and several times I found myself almost in tears over frustration. But it got better, I started to get the hang of it and figured out the system. Thats all I can say about that because it would take a whole different blog to fully discuss my experience on the Metro, including have a drunk man urinate behind me at a bus stop. Thankfully there is a family out here from Tuscaloosa and they are allowing me to use one of their cars for the while, HUGE blessing!
To keep this post short I'll just give quick little blurbs of what I have experienced thus far.
New friendships, producer's party, met several celebrities, lost lots of money trying to work the Metro, got a job, saw tones of celebrities, found a roommate, went to some crazy churches, job turned out to be a bust, found a great church, found a cool record store, spent Christmas away from my family but spent it with a friend, house sat, lost my room, now sleeping on a couch, got an interview for a new job, found an apartment, finished a book, got stood up for the interview, paid the security deposit for the apartment, rescheduled my interview, updated a blog. Whew, and that was my first month in Los Angeles.
I have been doing a picture a day update on Facebook, below is a link for that if you want to check those out. Hopefully I will be able to find things to write about and do a better job of updating. The next few weeks are going to be very important and I am super nervous about them! There should be some good updates to come!