A Cheerful Visit to LA

A Cheerful Visit to LA

Although more than 20 years have passed since the airing of the final episode of Cheers, one can still watch the hit sitcom via Hulu and other online streaming options.

While I rarely watched the show, its ubiquitous tagline, “Where everybody knows your name,” lives on. Particularly the oft-expressed craving for “community.” That theme popped up in a recent story I wrote about a church using social media as its leading growth tool.

One of the members talked about several men showing up at the hospital after a member of their group suffered chest pains. And how 15 members showed up at the airport to see off a woman flying to her sister’s funeral.

“All of that takes place outside the church,” he said. “It’s real community, not surface stuff. Real friendships and true family.”

Meeting Friends 

They included the owner of a garage who, as a sidelight, works as a stunt double for Hollywood productions and has appeared in such films as Fast & Furious.I thought of this longing for community on a recent book-related trip to Los Angeles, when I worked with a co-author who lives about 15 minutes north of downtown LA.

One thing I particularly enjoyed was meeting a variety of his friends. They included the owner of a garage who, as a sidelight, works as a stunt double for Hollywood productions and has appeared in such films as Fast & Furious.

Then there was my reunion with co-author Tom Sirotnak, who I helped write a pair of books released by B&H Publishing in the 1990s. It was our first face-to-face meeting in about 15 years and concluded with a post-lunch stop at a nearby coffee shop.

There a businessman who—like Tom—had played football at Southern California, walked up and started chatting, saying he followed Tom on Facebook. We wound up talking for about 20 minutes, a conversation that eventually drew me in and involved an explanation of why I was in LA.

Fantastic Food

A Cheerful Visit to LAThere was one other personal highlight of my week in LA. My last two days there we wound up having breakfast at La Abeja,, a rather ordinary-looking Mexican restaurant in the Highland Park area.

It’s a sparsely-furnished hangout with wooden booths. Nothing marks it as a toney, “can’t be missed” stop brimming with Hollywood glitterati. Indeed, I’m sure you won’t find it on any five-star tour maps or breathless descriptions of high-priced eateries.

And yet, the food is so good I consider it worth one’s time to sample if you’re ever in the area. On my first visit, I decided to eat light, since we were due to have lunch not long after our brunch-timed arrival.

The cheese quesadilla I had was so good that when we returned the morning of my return flight, I ordered another, along with a helping of rice and beans.

A Filling Meal

My reunion with co-author Tom SirotnakThat meal was so filling that the only thing I ate for lunch en route to Chicago was a pack of snack crackers.

Just as warming was the author’s description of the restaurant as his favorite. Dating back more than 35 years, the founder has since passed on. La Abeja is operated by his son.

That son greeted the author with a smile and pleasant banter, the kind I noticed going on among other staff and visitors who dropped by during my time there.

It’s the kind of repartee that made Cheers such a hit, yet in this case it was the stuff of real life. I suspect that many of us spend too much time dreaming of fantasies that don’t exist while missing the community right around us.


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