Dunga Brook Diary: Bucolic Madness

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October 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary 

Vicki Whicker: Central New York Country Girl.

[Vicki Whicker six years ago decided to leave Los Angeles. She packed up, bought an old farmhouse in Central New York State, and now chronicles her journey by iPhone photography, as well as with her prose (https://www.facebook.com/vicki.whicker ). Many follow her on Facebook as she posts her photos of the lush countryside, accompanied by her remarkable writing. (She is included in the anthology Twelve Los Angeles Poets (https://smile.amazon.com/Twelve-Los-Angeles-Poets-Onthebus/dp/0941017141/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506735743&sr=8-1&keywords=twelve+los+angeles+poets )


Vicki Whicker

This diary is not for LA lovers, there are plenty of you and this is not for you. Undecided LA newbies? Only fires, floods, riots, earthquakes and time will tell.

This diary is a cautionary-tale for the LA denizens who find themselves involuntarily perusing (nights, lunch hours, before coffee) the web, looking for little places with a big spaces where the air is clean and the water plentiful, where there may be a cow or two, definitely chickens, a place where (they imagine) dollars go further, and traffic-jams consist of tractors chugging sun-dappled roads, a place where you can definitely afford to own an 1820’s farmhouse.

(Disclaimer- I never really loved LA. Not once. Not from the moment I headed over that big hill at Barstow, or Bakersfield, or Baked, or whatever that town is with the mirage-like IN N Out between Vegas and LA.)

Coming from Vail, I was disappointed at the barren, smog filled basin that I was descending into when I arrived in LA. Mountains? You call those mountains? Have you ever seen the continental divide? From the get go, SoCal was never going to do me right. I grew up on the east coast- Florida, North Carolina- places with wide beaches, proper white sand, warm and inviting waves. Not so, LA.

I was a miscreant from the get go. If you love LA…don’t read further, unless you want to have some fun at my expense.

When I moved to LA, I was a young 26, I’d been in Vail for five formative years and when that party ended, as all great parties do, I tagged along behind an ex who had a job in LA. Me? I arrived with no job (a theme in my life, you’ll see.)

And guess what LA did? LA did not give an F that I didn’t think it was great. No, LA gave me everything and more, because that is what LA does.

“You want a job? What kind of job?”  It’s 1986, I’m sitting before a man that I’d met in Vail just a few months before. He’s older, but not by that much, he holds a Big Job in a gleaming office. I’m dressed as impressively as a girl with no money can do, scant resume in my trembling hand (printed on expensive paper and typed in brown ink (an underwhelming flourish that I thought was executive as hell).

When I first met this man, I was the front desk clerk at the Westin Hotel, Vail. He was a VIP, gracing my desk in the mornings, demanding Wall Street Journals or some such. For days, I’d noticed guys and gals running around doing stuff for him, important looking stuff. Hip and happy, staying in the hotel, working AND having fun. Two things that wouldn’t happen in Vail, unless you were a coke dealer or a ski instructor—which I most certainly was not, having learned to ski when I got there, at 21, no easy feat, I tell you, but the pants looked good. Hot Ski Pants.

Anyway, I asked the VIP, do they work for you? Yes. What kind of work? They’re Production Assistants; we’re filming a segment for Entertainment Tonight. How do you get a job like that? You move to LA and you come see me and you get a job like that. Really? Really.

Months later, I’m driving the 210, to the 110, to the…you know the drill…and I end up at Paramount Studio’s being waved through security, then I’m sitting across from Peter S. Greenberg, Vice-President of television development.

Welcome to LA, what do you want to do? I stared back at him.

Miraculously, I was also up for a job as a “sketch artist” for a Robert Greenberg (he of LA Gear infamy). Not being wise in any way shape or form, I opt for the shoe business because that job allows me to make money as an “artist”—my one and only aspiration in life. LOL, as if. But, it was nice to know that if I wanted a career in The Business, the other Greenberg was there for me, too.

I “loved” LA. LA was the rich older man that I never REALLY loved, even though he gave me nice things.

Flash forward.

I’d had it. F everything. This was the year of the looming empty-nest-syndrome, where nothing feels right and the bottom is falling out, so you’d better get busy with something BIG. My beloved only kid was off to college at the end of summer and my career in footwear was beyond irritating. I just couldn’t, anymore.

I was hankering to leave LA so hard it hurt. A voice inside….Go east, no longer young F’d up woman. Buy a house in the country. No more earthquakes, fires, floods, riots. A tidal-wave had just hit Japan and it was time to run before some new fangled LA disaster wiped us all off the maps.

Facebook Farm. In the middle of my hankering, a “friend” posted a picture of an old house and asked, Who wants to be my neighbor?

LA story- I barely knew this guy from a writing workshop that I’d been in for years (thank-you Jack Grapes). Let’s call this guy, Jim. What I knew about Jim I knew from his writing—hot, but crazy in ways that I did not fully understand, but we’d been in the same poetry group for a few years, done a few readings, kept each other at arms length, so, when he posted that photo and PM’d me that it was next to his old house, built in the 1820’s, on an acre, in the middle of nowhere (central New York), on what used to be a dairy farm named DungaBrook, was $45,000 cash…well…HELL YES.  What could go wrong?

Goodbye, LA.

(To be continued)

Vicki Whicker is an iphoneographer who lives near Cooperstown, New York. In 2011, after 25 years in LA, she quit her fashion job and decamped for the wilds of central New York. Without a job, not much forethought, and a vague plan to remodel an 1820’s farmhouse, she had no idea what was ahead.


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