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L.A. follows its own script

One of the pleasures of flying out of Newark — and there are so many — is the epic view of Manhattan, that soaring bulwark of affluence and might just off the coast of America.

But on Friday, when we pulled out for points west just after sunrise, I imagined all the brick-and-mortar ambition sinking into the rivers that encircle it. No need to ask why so glum, not with everybody watching their 401(k)’s pirouette down a black hole. Each passing day has brought new nightmares on Wall Street and more shared misery.

Still, by the end of the day, I was sitting on a hotel patio in Los Angeles, staring up the hill at that Hollywood sign and chatting with a smart young woman who markets movies. When the subject of the tumbling economy finally came up, she said that she had indeed been cutting back — by ordering drip coffee instead of a latte.

I waited a bit for the woman to crack a smile, to hammer me for being so credulous, but then I realized she was serious.

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