If you've read my first letter to Jon Carroll, you should know all about him, so I won't repeat myself. If you haven't, then just go there. After receiving a favorable response the first time, I was emboldened to write again -- no good deed goes unpunished.

Subject: About L.A. Blather

Dear Jon,

I was surprised when I read your piece (you still haven't let me know if that is the correct terminology) about Martin Filler and Los Angeles. First, I was surprised that for a columnist who covers the entire human condition that this was the angriest I've seen you (well, you know what I mean). Politics, terrorism, cats versus dogs, rats in the attic -- you are calm, cool, and collected. Somebody picks on L.A., you go off the deep end. Second, I was surprised that a columnist from the Bay Area (do they still call it that? It's been 15 years since I lived there) would ever defend L.A. Oh, I get it, you are just protecting your turf. Can't have those Right Coasters coming out here and taking over our job of denigrating L.A. Can't even do it right. Humph. (I've always wanted to use humph, but could never figure out how to work it in. I think that was a pretty near perfect spot, too, if I don't say so myself.) Or is it that an attack on L.A. from a New Yorker is perceived as an attack on the entire Left Coast, and therefore must be responded to on that basis? If you could be so kind as to drop me a note to clear up my surprise and confusion I'd appreciate it as I tend to bump into things in this state, and my doctor tells me that if I reopen that scab one more time, it will leave a permanent scar. You wouldn't want that on your conscience, would you?

I'd like to point out (timidly, in case the tone doesn't come through -- if we were face to face it would be obvious, but everything seems harsher when written) a slight factual error in your piece (I'm twisting slowly, slowly in the wind here). When you took Mr. Filler (is that an appropriate name, or what?) to task over inert gas, you in fact named the Noble gases, which while inert, are not the only inert gases and therefore only a subset of the class of inert gases (I'm sorry, sometimes my physics degree pokes through. Won't happen again.). Of course, Mr. Filler is dead wrong in calling it inert as smog is only too ert. So we'll just leave it as Mr. Filler dead, Mr. Carroll tiny bit, and move on before I make too much of it. (My therapist tells me people don't like to hear the word wrong over and over, so I'm really making an effort on that one. She also tells me people don't like it when I belabor the point, so if your feel belabored, sorry.)

One last idea, and then I'll stop wasting your time (promises, promises). If you really hate it when Right Coasters dump on a place you apparently hold dear, whatever the reasons you left (and I'm sure there good ones, perfectly dandy), think how I feel living in St. Louis where we get it Right and Left. I've lived in both the Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles, traveled all over the world (well, not every country or anything, not even every continent, but I've been to more than just Canada I'll have you know) and I choose to live in St. Louis. At least you have the great anointed ones traveling to your dear spots, complaining (the great anointed ones, not your dear spots) but forced to acknowledge their existence. We don't even get that here, unless there is some big disaster which provides an irresistible backdrop for a network news anchor trying to prove he is still in touch with the news.

True to my word,
Kevin Murphy

PS Merry Christmas! (Even if you like Thanksgiving better.)

And Mr. Carroll's reply, which I'm still struggling with:
Noble gases, inert gases -- same thing, says my dictionary.

So, what do you think of the reply. Please write (email) and let me know.

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