People often say to me, “Thorbjørn…” (Evidently I bear a strong resemblance to a man named “Thorbjørn.”) “Thorbjørn, now that you have lived in Los Angeles for a little over a year, can you tell us what three things make Southern California special to you?”
After a few weeks, I sometimes reply (of course, the questioners are long since departed), “Well, if I had to choose three things that make Southern California — that is, “SoCal” — special, I would first have to say, STEAK TRUCKS.”
Beefsteaks, long associated with cattle drives from Texas to St. Louis, with the stockyards of Chicago and with “good eatin'” in Boston’s famous Palmer Parker House Hotel where Ho Chi Minh once worked, also have a distinguished career in Southern California. Many of the cows who worked as extras in Howard Hawks’ classic film from 1948, Red River, opted to stay on in the area. Their descendents now enjoy special status among the gourmands of L.A. and can often be seen travelling the highways in specially outfitted “Steak Trucks,” as pampered as any NASCAR race-mobile.
Then I might take you to my favorite Starbuck’s Coffee Store, bring you to the back door and draw your attention to the hills just visible in the distance. I would say, “See those hills? See ’em? Eh? See ’em? Those hills are the very hills that helicopters come over at the beginning of the 70’s television sitcom M*A*S*H. Radar would point at them.” Yes, that is what makes SoCal special. That “waking dream” feeling you get whenever you stumble across an oft-filmed location or person.
But you know what really really makes people say “Californy is the place you oughta be”? It is living within cannonshot of a city named after a pumpkin: