Opinion: Los Angeles, still the city of dreams?

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‘World’s finest chocolate, $1.’

‘Candy Spelling reportedly sells Holmby Hills estate.’

‘Rick Caruso’s grand plan.’

The latter two are headlines on stories in The Times on Wednesday.

The first? That’s a sales pitch I heard over the weekend.

Was I on Rodeo Drive? On Fifth Avenue in New York? Perhaps in a trendy shop in Switzerland?

No. The ‘world’s finest chocolate, $1' was offered to me by a street vendor in front of the Fry’s Electronics store in, as Johnny Carson used to say, ‘beautiful downtown Burbank.’

I know what you’re thinking: It really wasn’t ‘the world’s finest chocolate’ the guy had in his little cardboard box. It was just chocolate bars.


Yes. And Candy Spelling’s Holmby Hills estate is just a house. And Rick Caruso, the subject of Tim Rutten’s column, is just a developer.

In Los Angeles, what’s for sale are dreams: great chocolate for $1, a $150-million estate or the vision of a city of neighborhoods centered around trendy shopping areas connected by light-rail lines.

Sometimes, the dreams don’t pan out (witness Tuesday’s shocking announcement that the Hugh Hefner -- Crystal Harris nuptials were off).

But often they do. Look at Stan Lee, the Marvel Comics genius who was the subject of Patt Morrison’s interview on Saturday. From comic books to entertainment titan? Only in L.A.

Read the comments on stories about California in general and L.A. in particular and you’d think everything has gone to hell in a handbasket. You know, businesses leaving in droves, along with the rich, fed up with being taxed to death. And the common man too, packing up and moving to Texas, or Nevada, or, well, anywhere.

Baloney. Anyone just pay more than $100 million for a fairy-tale estate in Dallas? You telling me you’d rather watch the sunset in Iowa than on a beach in Malibu? Think people would come from all over the world to visit a mall in Idaho, like they do the Grove? What’s nicer: A summer evening at the Hollywood Bowl, or country and Western music on the radio in your pickup?

Tell someone you’re from L.A., and watch their eyes light up. Especially young people. ‘Know any movie stars?’ they’ll ask. ‘Ever been to a club on Sunset?’

I didn’t buy one of the world’s best chocolate bars. But I wish I had.

Because maybe it was.


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-- Paul Whitefield

Candy Spelling, the widow of legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling, put the 4.7-acre residence up for sale more than two years ago at $150 million. It has reportedly been sold to a British heiress for $85 million. Credit: Mark Terrill / Associated Press