Goodnight Owen Taylor, Nice To Meet You LA

Nine years ago, I came to Los Angeles with a copy of Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep” and a bottle of Canadian Club whiskey. I wasn’t here for fame and fortune; I was here for a girl. She picked me up at the airport in her ‘68 VW and first thing we did was drive to the ocean while I shook off my jet lag.

Early in “The Big Sleep,” a chauffeur named Owen Taylor is found dead in his car. This is not considered extraordinary; the role of a driver in a mystery novel is a dangerous fictional occupation. What is exceptional is that the car is found beneath twelve feet of water. Witnesses claim to have seen Taylor drive off of the pier, but he was dead long before his Packard sunk into the Pacific. Poor Owen deserved better, as he was a good man whose only mistake was dreaming too big about the wrong girl.

Chandler neglected to solve the mystery of Taylor’s death. Even William Faulkner (who co-wrote the screen adaptation of “The Big Sleep”) once tried to unravel the mystery and failed.

Standing on the pier overlooking the ocean, I moved past Owen Taylor to the greater mystery of what I was doing here. People come to Los Angeles every day to chase their dreams but I arrived in Los Angeles dreamless and defeated. I was in LA because she was here and because we had known each other too long for me to say goodbye to her. I was here because I was dreaming for something that was hopeless. If I didn’t find something to hold on to it would only be a matter of time before I ended up like Owen Taylor, twelve feet beneath the Pacific Ocean.

We headed home and I took a good look at LA for the first time. Years of being told that Los Angeles was a cultural wasteland had conditioned me to expect the worst, but I found everything I saw to be absolutely perfect. By the time we turned onto the street I was going to live on, I decided that this was where I wanted to stay. For Los Angeles and I, it was love at first sight.

My relationship with the girl who took me to the ocean didn’t last but my love affair with LA is nine years strong. Despite spending two-thirds of my life elsewhere, this is the place that feels most like home. I can’t say exactly why, it just is. I’d have an easier time explaining who killed Owen Taylor in “The Big Sleep”.

18 Replies to “Goodnight Owen Taylor, Nice To Meet You LA”

  1. You don’t have a cat, do you? I could try to trap one of the neighborhood strays for you, if you like.

    I’ve often wondered why some places immediately feel like home, and others never do. I’ve been in LA almost seven years, and it’s never really felt “right” to me. But, my heart is here, and wherever he is, is home. So, I try to embrace the things I find to love, and let go of the ones I don’t, because it’s not fair to either of us if I’m not happy here.

    Now I have to add The Big Sleep to my list of things to read before I die. But I just can’t drink Canadian Club, unless it’s my father who’s pouring.

  2. Thanks Ms. Bitter and Chia

    I do not have a cat but I do help to take care of the strays that live behind my house.

    The Big Sleep is a terrific book. It has been filmed at least twice (1945, 1978) the first one is a mess despite having Bogart and Bacall AND Howard Hawks at the helm. The second features Robert Mitchum which by itself should make it awesome but alas it is not. The location is changed to England and Mitchum kind of sleepwalks through it. He’s much better as the same character (Phillip Marlowe) in Farewell My Lovely.

  3. Welcome aboard and a lovely first post. I always say that LA is “sunshine gothic,” and I think you captured that pretty well actually. Looking forward to many more posts.

  4. i’ve never seen the movie but i plan to. you make everything sound so bittersweet, so romantic. i’ll just go ahead and say that soon, metblogs will not believe their luck in finding you.

    keep them coming.

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