I grew up in Southern California, which was always sunny, generally pleasant, and filled with people who wanted to be in the movie industry. And, let's face it, a good chunk of the people who lived there were absolutely nuts.
LA was the land of colonics and smoothies, the ever-tan and permanently grinning from facelifts. I remember seeing billboards for plastic surgeons touting breast jobs for teenagers on the side of the freeway. Dr. George Fishbeck fiddled with his bow tie nervously and apologized when the forecast called for rain. And LA is where I first heard of people eating a macrobiotic diet.
One summer, my family and I ended up at a garage sale in Malibu. I have no idea why these people were having a garage sale, when their neighbors down the street had a life-size replica of a TIE fighter on their roof, and everyone had Mercedes and Porsches parked in their garages. But there it was—a garage sale. Listening to the sound of the surf hitting the sand behind the house, we poked through old clothes and slightly scarred furniture. My mother found a standing lamp from the 1920s that she bought for $15. My brother and I found a stack of a single book: The Knowing Nose.