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10 Inches of Hail in Watts
By Rodger Jacobs
from Glendale,CA

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On November 12, 2003, a freak storm pummeled parts of Los Angeles with 10 inches of rain and hail, forcing motorists to abandon cars at the height of rush hour and leaving thousands of residents without power .....

10 inches of hail in watts

dateline : los angeles, california : 12 november 03

: r o d g e r j a c o b s

"So, how did a producer get attached to the project?"

"Heís not a real producer," I explained to Jack, pouring two packets of sugar into my coffee. "Heís a wanna-be producer but heís attached to some major projects, and my agent works with him in packaging scripts. He has a supposed instinct for making screenplays more saleable."

The small bar at the Marie Callenderís on Pacific Avenue was growing increasingly dark, not owing to any problem with the restaurantíís lighting but due to a gathering storm over the mountains to the east. Only two weeks ago those very same hills almost fell victim to the wildfires surging through what the local newscasters call "the southland".

Jack shifted his bulky girth in the wood-slatted chair, took another bite of his slice of sugarless apple pie and shook his head. "Itís always the same shit. This business never changes. Never."

A few weeks before, Jack had some kind of diabetic seizure that the doctors said stemmed from poor nutrition. Now, he was taking his illness seriously. The sugar-free apple pie, for instance. He was a producer on the Universal lot back in the Seventies when Spielberg was making his first TV movie for the studio. He failed to hitch onto Spielbergís star, though, and wound up, all these years later, a producer of direct-to-video B-movies.

As for me, I am what Iíve always been for the last twelve years: a hack writer, a profession that is not be looked upon with disdain when you consider that at least I have paid the bills through word slinging. Or so Iíve been told.

"This getting older stuff is no fun," Jack announced, polishing off the last bite of pie. I signaled the waiter to freshen my cold coffee. A sign in the restaurant lobby announced that they now "proudly serve Starbucks coffee." Directly across the street is a Starbucks outlet, a local haven for the local Armenian and Korean teens. Glendale is nothing if not a shining emblem of L.A. as a polyglot melting pot.

"If twenty years ago, you knew that you would wind up where you are now," Jack continued, "would you have done anything different?"

"The law was always my second passion. I studied pre-law. If I knew this is where writing was going to lead me, I might have chosen to become a lawyer. And Iíd probably be very rich and writing your contracts for you at three-thousand bucks an hour but Iíd probably be bitter because I wouldíve always wanted to be a writer instead."

It was getting even darker now. The storm clouds were clearly visible through the plate glass window. Jack looked at me as if someone had just punched him in the gut.

"My God," he announced. "You wouldíve been a great lawyer."

I suddenly didnít feel so good and was in a hurry to get home. We finalized the details of our impending production agreement on a $100,000 shot-on-video movie deal and I hurried out the front door. The thunder off in the distance sounded like artillery shells booming over the Verdugo Mountains. I paused to study the sky. It was a sickening shade of purple-black. Iíve witnessed what storm systems like that can do in Northern California and back east.

But storms with that kind of intensity never hit L.A., I thought. Later that evening, as the erratic weather system moved south-west over the L.A. skyline, a remarkable view of which I have from my fifth floor balcony, I was reminded that a lot of things happen in L.A. that you never thought possible.


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