Chapel of Optimal Life

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OPINION: I'm Moving To Watts

I recently migrated to the great metropolis of Los Angeles, California. What a place. Angelinos (as I have learned people call themselves here) are simply stacked on top of each other, 10 million strong.

There is so much going on within L.A. County's limits that it often appears to me that the whole world is here (and it is, in one form or another).

Since moving here I have lived in two places: Hollywood and Venice. Both are very comfortable communities with lots of amenities. Venice has the additional good qualities of being 'creative' and interesting and on the beach.

I will share the small house (though not personal space) with a woman, who speaks only Spanish, and her children.

While living in both of these places, I worked (as a carpenter, or as a writer) and lived much like everyone else. No one looked at me strangely, and no one made me feel out of place. I was just another cash-poor, white kid with education and plenty of opportunities.

I decided yesterday to move to Watts, though. Yes-Watts, the place that has burned, twice, in the last forty years over racial unrest. The place that will always remind us of the two Kings: Martin and Rodney. I suppose that I don't have a good reason for moving there. Or, rather, I don't have a reason that would qualify as a good reason, for most people. I am simply going there to live.

The night before last I told two of my current housemates (I have 14 of them-in Venice) that I was considering moving to Watts, and they had a good laugh. They didn't take my statement seriously, at all. One of them said: "A white man moving to Watts is the craziest thing I've ever heard of." And I didn't argue with him. But I didn't agree.

Yesterday, I drove to Watts to look for an apartment. I cruised up and down the main streets: Century, Central, Compton, and Imperial, looking for rentals. Happily, I found something fairly quickly, on Century Blvd., for $700 per month. I intend to move in at the end of this month. There, I will share the small house (though not personal space) with a woman, who speaks only Spanish, and her children.

My apartment has a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, and bathroom. It's a total of about 300 square feet; everything is clean and tasteful. I will be close to the park, where I hope to run every other day. I will shop at the local grocery store, work out at the local gym, and perhaps take classes at the local community college. Since my apartment will be a comfortable place to spend time, I will continue to write there, too. I will write about my experiences in Watts, or about other things-whatever comes to mind. In short, I will live like any other American, in Watts.

Watts is a place where thousands of people raise their families, day in and day out, and work to build community. It also happens to be a center of Black American power and influence (and increasingly Hispanic power and influence, as well). Relatively few white people live there. But, this does not mean that I shouldn't move to Watts. It just means that I should be attentive to, and respectful of, the cultural norms that exist there currently, to the best of my ability. Watts is an American place. It is a respectable place. It is a place for anyone to call home, including me.

Adapted from an Opinion by Danny Paul as submitted to



How To Stay Young


1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them'.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever, even ham radio. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.'

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud.

An example to start with:

A married couple was in a terrible accident where the woman's face was severely burned. The doctor told the husband that they couldn't graft any skin from her body because she was too thin. So the husband offered to donate some of his own skin. However, the only skin on his body that the doctor felt was suitable would have to come from his buttocks.

The husband and wife agreed that they would tell no one about where the skin came from, and requested that the doctor also honor their secret. After all, this was a very delicate matter.

After the surgery was completed, everyone was astounded at the woman's new beauty. She looked more beautiful than she ever had before! All her friends and relatives just went on and on about her youthful beauty!

One day while she was alone with her husband, she was overcome with emotion at his sacrifice.

She said, "Dear, I just want to thank you for everything you did for me. There is no way I could ever repay you."

"Honey," he replied, "think nothing of it. I get all the thanks I need every time I see your mother kiss you on the cheek."

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"Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved."

William Jennings Bryant

"I am not young enough to know everything."

Oscar Wilde

"We would rather speak badly of ourselves than not talk about ourselves at all."

Francois De La Rochefoucaulde

"A friendship that's sincere and true, gives joy like nothing else will do; that's why glad hearts look up and send, a prayer of thanks for faithful friends."


"A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog."

Jack London

"Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good."

Joe Paterno

"Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. "

Robert Frost

"No medicine is more valuable, none more efficacious, none better suited to the cure of all our temporal ills than a friend to whom we may turn for consolation in time of trouble, and with whom we may share our happiness in time of joy."

St. Alfred of Rievaulx

"Since my leaving the drinking of wine, I do find myself much better, and do mind my business better, and do spend less money, and less time lost in idle company."

Samuel Pepys

"I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them."

Isaac Asimov

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