Now the first thing you know, old Jeb’s a millionaire

Establishing shot: the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. The high-speed, glass-walled elevator rockets upward, bearing a square-jawed businessman (me) and my amiable Japanese friend and boss, Nozawa. As the elevator shoots past the sixth floor, we accelerate to thirty feet per second, to two hundred and fifty feet above the glass ceiling. Nozawa turns around, sees the world spin away from him, and utters a single syllable: “Oh–”

As we leave the elevator on the twenty-fifth floor, he confides, “Frankly talking, I don’t like height.”

In my room, with the curtains open. The LA foothills, burning red and gold on the horizon behind the skyscrapers. I imagined swimming pools and movie stars, and thought of Heather, somewhere on the skyline. I called her on the cell. She’s moving into her apartment; she recently bought four hundred dollars’ worth of groceries, only to find the gas hasn’t been turned on, so she can’t cook any food. “We’re having fish tacos,” she said. “I had kind of a breakdown from moving all my stuff, but I’m better now. Over the past hour and a half, I’ve assembled a lamp,” she said. “I’m very proud of myself.”

I had dinner with Nozawa at the steak house at the top of the Bonaventure. We talked about our families. “My father was born in 1930,” he said. “He was eleven during the World War Second.” I looked over a couple tables and saw a middle-aged academic fellow tapping on a laptop. I recognized the software he was using. He was writing a teleplay.

Nozawa and I checked out of the Bonaventure and visited several potential customers: game publishers, producers, and assorted rock stars. The LA fog burned off early in the afternoon, so I pointed at our rented Mustang and told Nozawa, “I have an idea.” I took the convertible top down and drove him down 405 to San Juan Capistrano. California put on her best urban face for us, with palm trees and golden hills and blue skies and open carpool lanes. Nozawa smiled the entire time. Toward the end of the trip, he announced happily, “I have never ridden a car like this before.”

There are some incredibly beautiful people down here. In San Francisco, video game developers are all staffed by standard-issue geeks, dressed in blue jeans and freebie pre-printed T-shirts. In Los Angeles there is a very high percentage of day-job actresses working as HR people and receptionists and the like in game development companies. The rules of Mendelian inheritance cannot permit so many blonde people to exist in such a diverse population.

Flight back, 8:00 pm tonight. The plane was nearly empty. I guess people remembered where they were two years ago before deciding not to buy tickets today.

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