I've basically lived my whole life in Petaluma. We moved here when I was like, 8 and I've been here ever since. I had 2 stints in a town North of here called Santa Rosa, but Petaluma has always been home. That was until 2001 when I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my true love....film. Technically, *we* (my wife and I) moved to Sherman Oaks, CA which is in "The Valley."
I liked Sherman Oaks because when I was in High School, there was a cheesy T&A comedy show on Showtime called "Sherman Oaks." Just kidding (sorta). I liked it because it was 20 mins from Northridge (my school) and 20 minutes to basically anywhere else in LA.....depending on traffic. Plus our neighborhood was nice. Palm trees, pleasant people and good restaurants. Once we moved in though, I realized that it was where I was supposed to be...if that makes sense. I'm about to go all spacey and kismetty and philosophical on yo asses....you've been warned.
As I said, I moved South to pursue film...more specifically, filmmaking. 3 days after we moved in, we saw our neighbor on "Law and Order" in a recurring role. Not like....a random neighbor....I'm talking the guy who shared our wall. This simply amazed me. The guy was a total douche bag and I hated him, but the fact that we had just moved in and your a-typical dick next door is on "Law and Order" blew me away. Sometime later that week I went for a walk. I rounded the corner and saw 2 kids with their dad telling them "hey, slow down...wait up." That dad was John Fogerty. JOHN FOGERTY was around the block from me! And so it went....Kato Kaelin in the Baha Fresh by our house (I'll never forget seeing him, realizing who it was then hearing "fish tacos for Kato....Kato...fish tacos"), Alec Baldwin at the coffee shop around the corner...on and on. I'm not a celebrity seeker, but I love being around celebs...or more importantly, film people. And that's what it was like in L.A. Once I was having a rough time in my life and was lucky enough to get tickets to see Bruce Springsteen at Dodger Stadium. I went to get a beer and recognized Mark Pellington, a director I truly admire. His video for Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" made me look at film aesthetics for the first time and his film "Going All The Way" was one of my first Sundance experiences.
I saw him in the beer line as I went to the restroom and I told myself, "If he's there when you come out, go ask him for an internship." I whizzed, came out and met Mark Pellington. He was so gracious and blown away I knew who he was. He gave me his card! THAT, in a nutshell, is what I loved about my time in L.A. Opportunity (or John fucking Fogerty) around any corner. When we decided to move back to Petaluma, I was less than thrilled. About 4 months into moving back, I went to the Sonoma Valley Film Festival and saw a movie called "My Date With Drew." It was great! It's a doc about a guy trying to get a date with Drew Barrymore. When they showed his apartment, it looked familiar. After about 10 seconds it donned on me, he lived DIRECTLY next door to me in Sherman Oaks. And he made this great movie! It was crazy.
Since then, I've seen my old neighborhood on TV or movies (like "40 Year Old Virgin") about 5 times. That's why I'm writing about this now. I was just watching "Iconoclasts" on Sundance Channel and Sumner Redstone , 9 time billionaire and owner of Viacom went to buy fish at the shitty tropical fish shop around the corner from my old apartment. I always thought it was a mafia front and not a real fish store. I miss L.A. but am grateful for my job and for my hometown. However, I can’t help but think that little spot in Sherman Oaks is trying to lure me back….